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Our daughter is an LDS member and is getting married in a temple in December. In that we, her parents, are not members, what should we expect and what are the expectations the church has of us? I understand that we cannot go into the temple.





Dear Linda,

Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding! Technically (and you should feel free to hold this over your daughter’s head when things get stressful, or if you’re feeling playful), you have no obligations in the wedding ceremony. Temple weddings proper are simple affairs with little fanfare. The ordinance only requires five persons to be in attendance:

  • the bride
  • the groom
  • the sealer (an officiator, similar to a priest of other denominations)
  • two witnesses

Close friends and family are usually invited, but if they are absent, the wedding is still valid. Of course, a limited number of guests are invited to share in the joy of the ceremony, and often family members are invited to participate as witnesses. The happiness expressed within the temple are displayed reverently and appropriately. You could compare it to attending a performance of Handel’s “Messiah”. As stirring and joyful as it may be, you wouldn’t jump up and shout “Happy birthday Jesus! and a Merry Christmas to all!” Such jubilations are more appropriately shown elsewhere.

Similarly, a wedding reception is typically held at a second location following the ceremony. Here it is more appropriate to celebrate with music, dancing, food, gifts, and other wholesome traditions. The agenda for the reception is a blank slate for the couple to fill in.

I recommend for you to talk with your daughter about what role she would like for you to have in her wedding celebrations. The wedding in the temple takes about half an hour. She may be in there for an additional 2 1/2 hours if she has not yet received her endowment (she can tell you if she has or not). Find out if the groom’s family will all be in the temple at that time or if there will be some waiting outside (the sacred nature of the ordinances and covenants associated with the temple requires a certain level of spiritual maturity, so age as well as faithfulness in keeping baptismal covenants are used as a guage) – just because all of his family belong to the Church doesn’t mean they will all be attending. You may be able to have a picnic on the grounds during that time. Or you may want to use that time to walk the temple grounds with the photographer (if she’s having pictures taken at the temple) to find good places for pictures (all pictures will be outside the temple).

And just with any wedding, talk to your daughter about what role you’ll play in the reception. I’m sure you can describe the possibilities and alternatives better than I can. I imagine this is also where you have some question of obligations. American tradition typically places an obligation on the bride’s family, but there is nothing in Latter-day Saint culture that requires it. If you are footing the bill, you’ll be pleased to know that you can usually use one of the local church buildings and there are no fees or charges.

Finally, I would also encourage you to talk with your daughter about what her marriage means to her and why she wants to get married in the temple. You may hear the phrase “time and all eternity” used to describe her aspirations. It simply means that she sees great merit in the values shared in a family – love, respect, service, forgiveness, work, empathy, and so on – and she wants that to endure forever. I daresay she desires an eternal association with these virtues, and with her family, because she saw them modeled in her own home growing up.





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