If you are not LDS, you probably landed on this site through a Google search, wondering why you were not invited to your friend’s Mormon wedding and what the heck a ring ceremony is. The following text is what I wrote for my husband and my wedding website a few years ago. I hope that it will help you to understand the differences between Mormon sealings and traditional weddings. More importantly, I hope you will walk away with an understanding of why your friend or family member would choose to be sealed in a Mormon ceremony even though it means not sharing that moment with many people that they love.
Taken from our wedding website:
We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You have probably heard of us before. Our commercials are cool enough that Phoenix College started copying them. Most people call us Mormons because we believe that the Book of Mormon, along with The Bible, is the word of God. We believe that they both testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind, and that God is our Heavenly Father who loves us.
Like many other religious people, Latter-Day Saints have unique traditions and beliefs regarding marriage. If you have never been invited to celebrate a Latter-Day Saint (LDS) wedding, you might have a few questions.
Why was I invited to a ring ceremony rather than the actual ceremony?
LDS marriage ceremonies, actually called sealings, are small sacred ceremonies which take place in a dedicated temple. These ceremonies are open only to those who hold a current temple recommend. A person becomes eligible for a temple recommend after they have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for a year. Temple recommends are received after an interview with a local bishop. In order to obtain a recommend, a person must answer questions about their testimony of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the restoration of the gospel. They must affirm their chastity and abstinence from harmful substances, and most importantly, express their own feeling that they are worthy of entering the Lord’s Holy House.
What is a Mormon sealing like?
The actual sealing is very different from a traditional wedding. The person who officiates offers the couple brief advice and explains the eternal nature of marriage. The bride and groom kneel on either side of an altar and make simple promises to one another and God. There is no center aisle, no grand entrance, and not even an exchange of rings, unless the couple has specifically requested to do so. The bride and groom kiss across the altar at the end of the ceremony, which only lasts about 20 minutes.
Why would you choose to be married in the temple where you can’t have all of your family and friends with you?
There is really only one reason, but it is of the utmost importance to both of us. As Latter-Day Saints, we believe that marriage can last forever if it is performed by priesthood authority in the temple. We believe that the sealer (or officiant) has been granted priesthood authority, or the power of God on earth, through the laying on of hands to bind marriages on earth that will last through the eternities. As stated in Matthew 18:18, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Because we love each other, we desire to spend forever together. We believe that by being married in the temple and living faithfully to one another and God, that we can spend eternity as husband and wife rather than living our lives together “’til death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live”.
What is a ring ceremony anyway?
Because we love you and want to share our excitement and joy with you, we are holding a ring ceremony right before the reception. The ring ceremony will look similar to a traditional wedding. There will be a processional and an officiant. We will tell one another how much we love each other, exchange rings, and have that beautiful public “Hey, we’re married!” kiss and introduction. The wording will be different from what you are used to because we will have already made our promises to one another, but the spirit of the ceremony will be exactly what you expect when you attend a wedding – one of love, reverence, excitement, and absolute JOY!
If you were invited to our ring ceremony and reception, we want you to know how much we love and appreciate you and your influence on our lives. We are so excited to share this day with you as we join our two lives together to become one.
An addendum from the modern me:
I know that it is difficult when your family member or friend chooses to be sealed in the temple. My wedding day was the best day of my life, but in many ways, it was the worst day of my life as well. I knew that my family felt excluded, and I knew that I would never be able to make that okay. During the sealing, I was filled with overwhelming joy that I was being sealed to my husband. And right there next to that joy was the most bitter loneliness and wretched guilt I have ever experienced. I want you to know that you are not less than the Mormon family members or friends who will be included in the sealing (if any will be). The couple who invited you to their ring ceremony want to spend their special day with you as much as they want to spend it with anyone else.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in these other articles on my blog.
Another Perspective on the New LDS Policies About Same-Sex Couples and Their Children
(from the Mormon daughter of a gay man)
Avoiding Exclusion in LDS Temple Weddings
October 2014 LDS General Conference Quotes
How Prayers Are Different From Wishes
Finding An Affordable Modest Wedding Dress