Dear Leaders of the LDS Church,

I am writing this to plea that the Church policy be changed which requires that individuals wait a year to marry in the temple if they have a civil wedding first, thereby allowing members to include all family members in a civil ceremony prior to a sacred temple ceremony. I firmly believe that this policy change would bring more unity in families and more individuals to the church.

My story has three parts. First, I dated a man seriously once who nearly joined the church, but couldn’t bring himself to join. His main reason was that he couldn’t ever marry in the temple if that would be his only wedding ceremony and his mother would not be able to attend his wedding. This man’s mother was so important to him that he refused to join a church that would prevent his mother from attending his wedding. I believe that allowing individuals to be married civilly, with family in attendance, would remove the unnecessary situation where individuals feel they have to chose between the church and their family when it comes to marriage.

My other stories revolve around my actual temple marriage. My husband and I were married for time and all eternity in the Mount Timpanogos temple in 2008. Most of my family was in attendance, since they are mostly members, but two of my brothers and my husband’s entire family were not at our wedding since they are not members. My husband’s family struggled as they sat outside the temple as we were married. They felt excluded and ostracized from our very special day. Even though we tried to have a nice reception and even did a ring exchange at the reception, his parents and sister felt very badly that they could not attend the actual legal marriage of their only son.

Later, my husband left the LDS church, something that has been difficult on both of us, and I find myself sometimes wishing we had had a civil ceremony in addition to our temple sealing because now he does not want to even think about our wedding day since it is tied inextricably to negative feelings about the LDS church. I wish there was a ceremony he could look back on without those negative feelings he has now.

I sincerely believe that the best thing for our family, both for my husband and I and for our extended family, would have been to have both a civil ceremony, where family was in attendance, and a temple ceremony for select temple recommend holding family members. The church should unite families, not divide them when it comes to marriage. I believe that if this policy is changed, there will be more family unity and more people joining the church.