I converted at age 18. My parents allowed me to stamp this scarlet letter of Mormonism on my forehead, knowing it would bring exclusion and judgment from the general public. But they accepted me still. They have always supported me, even if they don’t agree with me. They watched me attend BYU and date only young men in the church. They must have known it was coming. After serving a mission in Chile I came home to “start my life” I stepped right onto the traditional LDS path to an eternal companionship. However my brother, mother, and father were not invited on that path. My aunts, uncles, cousins, grandpa, and best friends were there to serve the food, work at the reception, decorate and clean the church gym, but were not allowed in the wedding. Sure, I have some extended family who are members of the church. They were allowed in – this only widened the divide between the “can enter” and “cannots”. My paternal grandmother could have been in the temple with us, but she opted out so she could sit with my parents in the waiting room. All these years later I am so grateful for her mindfulness and compassion. I was in love, starting my marriage, and completely self absorbed. I wasn’t thinking of all those people sitting in the lobby not permitted to witness the most important vows of my life. I didn’t notice the pain of those family members around me who were excluded from this milestone. I did notice I was lonely in the bride’s room. I missed my mom.

It’s been 16 years since my wedding day. I’m a mother now and have a glimpse of how it would feel to sit outside my child’s wedding. I would HATE whatever organization it was that kept me away from my child’s special moment. Is that really the way the Church wants non-members to observe the rules? Because that’s the reality of how people feel. Honestly, I can’t believe my parents’ strength and composure that day. They were more Christ-like than I would have been in their situation. They are accepting, welcoming, and love me unconditionally. They did not judge me for the choice I made; to marry my husband in a church that did not welcome them. If I were to imagine Jesus Christ attending the Boise Temple that day, I am confident that He would have attended to my parents and family. Why would the Church, His Church, not attend to them by allowing family members to witness temple sealings? Or at the very least, allow converts to have an open ceremony the same day to
include family in such an important event.  What better opportunity can be found to include non-members in LDS ordinances, sharing the Spirit instead of excluding them from it?

My situation is not unique. I was lonely on my wedding day and my family was excluded. Nothing about those feelings is in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. On my mission I attended a Chilean wedding. The young LDS couple married in the temple and married civilly. I envied their experience. Due to the law restrictions in Chile, they needed the civil ceremony for their marriage be legal. If I would have thought about it at the time I was planning my own special day, I should have had a “destination wedding” on the coast of Chile where my family and friends – regardless of their personal faith – could have been there. Then I could have immediately been sealed in the Santiago Temple. It would have been complete. If my children are ever in a situation where their fiancé’s family cannot attend the temple this will be my recommendation for them. I may even still recommend it, just so my parents can see their grandkids get married since they missed their daughter’s wedding.

-Emily