By Rachael

My husband and I were sealed nearly 4 years ago. His mother and sisters are not active members of the church, and haven’t been for many years. They had to wait outside. His father was unable to get a temple recommend at the time. He had to wait outside. My younger siblings were not yet endowed. They had to wait outside.

I remember sitting in the sealing room, so happy to be marrying my best friend. As I looked around the room, I saw my parents, my older brother and his wife, and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I was thankful for the family that was able to be there, but I couldn’t help feeling a sadness that my younger siblings, two of my best friends, were not present. I felt an even stronger feeling of heartache when I realized not one immediate family member from my husband’s side was present. While the sealing room was technically full, it felt empty. It put a dark spot on an otherwise amazing day.

After we were married, I struggled to connect with my in-laws. Things had been fine before the wedding, but afterwards they seemed distant. I didn’t understand why and didn’t know how to handle it, so I just continued on as if things were fine. Our current relationships aren’t bad, but they aren’t great, either. It wasn’t until recently that I realized our wedding may not have been a happy day for everyone involved. While there are certainly other things that have shaped our relationships, I feel very strongly that we started off on the wrong foot by excluding them from our wedding.

At the time, I didn’t realize how hurtful this could be. I had tried to be inclusive by having a small ring ceremony at our reception. However, due to pressure from my parents and church leaders, my ring ceremony became little more than my grandpa explaining why people were excluded from the temple while my husband and I stood awkwardly next to him. It was probably more salt in the wound than a comforting explanation.

We were just trying to do the right thing. We had prepared for the temple and were worthy to be married there. We were excited to be sealed forever and ever in the Lord’s house. Having to choose between this wonderful ordinance and our family was hard. And I am not sure that it was necessary.

Given the importance we Mormons put on families, it doesn’t make sense to exclude them from one of the most important days of our lives. Especially since that is not how it is done everywhere. If I could do it all again, I would have been married civilly first, holding a ceremony that would include everyone I love. I would have waited a year to be sealed. While my sealing is incredibly important to me, so is my family. And it was wrong of me to exclude them.

I wish I didn’t have to make the choice. I wish we could have had a civil ceremony and been sealed the next day. I wish I could have shared with my family, all of my family, in a ceremony that celebrated the best day of my life.