My mother wrote a very thoughtful and eloquent letter explaining the details of my parents, my brother’s, and my wedding days. I would be remiss if I also didn’t express my frustration at the exclusionary wedding/sealing policies within the United States and Canada at LDS temples.
My mother did everything she could to make sure that people were not excluded from my wedding the way many were excluded from hers. Unfortunately, hauling my family around in limousines and sending them to lunch while I’m getting married, doesn’t make them or I feel any better about them not being at my wedding. I love and value my family very much and we all wished they could have been there. Many of my mom’s side chose to come and support me outside of the temple anyway. I am so grateful they were willing to do that, despite the fact that they were deemed “unworthy” by a church not their own, to attend. No one from my dad’s side chose to attend – including my grandparents. “What was the point if they couldn’t see the wedding?” They attended a casual open house a week later in my husband’s hometown in Idaho. My mother-in-law made them feel welcome and included by providing them with a boutonniere and corsage, but it didn’t change the fact that they weren’t at the wedding the week prior.
The most significant person who was excluded however, was my brother –my one and only sibling. He was 18 at the time of my marriage. He had just completed a summer term at BYU and was preparing to head back to school until he would turn 19 and be able to go on a mission. My brother was not unworthy. My brother had a testimony of the gospel. He would have qualified for a temple recommend. But he was just 6 months too young. He didn’t have a mission call in his hand quite yet to allow him to attend the temple. My husband also faced missing his sister at our sealing as well. His two older brothers were both endowed and able to attend, but his younger sister was 19. She also would have passed a temple recommend interview with flying colors. She received her endowment in the temple just over a year later in preparation for her mission. However, my husband and I bothmissed the presence of our closest siblings during our wedding because they did not meet an arbitrary age requirement. (It’s interesting to note that with the recent decrease in the age requirement for missionary eligibility – If I had been married five years later they both could have been qualified to enter the temple.)
I wish all of my family could have been there – that they would have felt welcome to see my wedding take place. A wedding is a turning point in someone’s life and a time where two families become joined. I wish this policy weren’t so exclusionary – of someone who is too young, of someone who doubts, or of someone who has made different choices. As a church that puts family at the center, we can do a much better job at including all family members in these important and life-changing events.
Lauren Crabtree Laird