When I got married to my husband in the Detroit Michigan Temple a little over five years ago, I did what I was told my whole life: Get married in the temple, and if you feel like, have a ring ceremony afterwards for family that could not be in the temple. For four years, I was okay with that. Yeah, it sucked that my siblings could not be there (I am the oldest), and my husband’s family who were all inactive could not be there as well. “Oh well,” I thought, “Too bad they were too young and/or made bad decisions that excluded them.” I also had many, many friends that could not be there as I grew up in an area where there was a small LDS population.
When my husband’s best friend’s wedding came around three years later, that marriage was a civil marriage, but done in the church building. The couple consisted of a member and a non-member, however, the non-member was planning on joining the church after the wedding, but did not do it before so as not to upset her family who was very against it. The couple remained chaste and for all intents and purposes, were worthy to enter the temple except for the fact that the wife was not a member yet. Their wedding was beautiful, and all of their friends and family were there to see them proclaim the love that they have for one another. As I had been taught my whole life, I cringed at the whole “till death do us part,” but I knew they were planning on being sealed within a year and that they would be together forever.
A year later, I attended the couples sealing in the temple. It was beautiful. They had a newborn at the time that was also sealed to them. However, at the end of all of it, I was baffled…their sealing was the same exact ceremony as what my “wedding” was. And at that point, I was very hurt. The wife was not able to have her family there with her for her sealing of course, but they WERE there for her civil wedding and be able to enjoy that. I was so hurt that some of my family and most of my husband’s family was unable to see my husband and I proclaim our love and devotion to each other as they were excluded because we had a temple wedding.
There is nothing different between a temple wedding sealing and a regular temple sealing. But being taught that a temple wedding is the way to go in the end excluded family. Does that not go against what the Church is all about? Excluding family out of such an important event in a couple’s life does not help family dynamics and often can cause resentment. Family that was excluded often feel even more hurt by the Church and move farther away from it.
By letting couple’s know that if they wish, they can have a civil wedding where all family and friends can attend, and then have a temple sealing shortly after (even the same day!), I think is much more in harmony of the love and harmony of spending time with families and sharing the love of Christ. I do not think this will cause couple’s to go and be unchaste or lose their chance to enter the temple. I know that if I had the opportunity to have a civil wedding and a sealing within the same day or week, I would have remained just as chaste and worthy to enter the temple as I was when I had a temple wedding.