Story submitted by Carrie
I married a convert in the temple. His family has been nothing but supportive of his entire conversion process, and our relationship. His mother even took a red-eye flight at the last minute to attend his baptism, and was overwhelmed to the point of tears with the love she felt there. But then we had to explain to her that she couldn’t attend her son’s wedding a year later. We explained it in all the best ways we knew how — that we loved her, that this was about a commitment to God, that we would hold a ring ceremony, that there would be a big reception. She supported our decision but didn’t understand why in a family-first church we would exclude family from something as important as a wedding.
When our wedding day came, my mom and dad in-law were there to support us with smiles, and continued to support us as a new couple. But as they said two weeks later, it was really hard to go back to work and have their friends ask “how was the wedding?” and have their first thought be “well, we weren’t invited.”
I love my in-laws and wish we could have spared them this needless pain. If I were to do it over again, I think I would have chosen to get married civilly 11 months after his baptism, instead of waiting the full year, in order to include his family. After all, there’s an exception clause that says that if you marry a convert, you can get sealed at the 1-year mark after the baptism, instead of waiting another year after your civil ceremony.
The fact that these exceptions exist though (for new converts, for weddings in Europe, for places where temples aren’t nearby) just highlights my confusion. Why do we have the policy at all? It makes me wonder if it is all some ill-considered mistake, and I could have spared my in-laws their incredible pain.
After having such a great baptism experience for their son, now their first association with the church is hurt. After the baptism, I had thought there was a window where they might consider embracing the gospel, but now that window is gone. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that excluding family is never an effective missionary strategy.
With so many converts in the church, I believe a change of policy could help us better show love to our friends, families, and neighbors — just as Christ would do.