Mormon Weddings and Wedding Traditions

Mormon Weddings and Wedding Traditions

Mormon Wedding ceremonies & Mormon Wedding Traditions

Members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), often referred to as Mormons, reach back to their founding by Joseph Smith in New York State in the 1820’s.

The term Mormon generally refers to the members of the largest branch of the Latter-Day Saints Movement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), since, this is still by far, the largest branch of the movement.

Though Mormonism is seen as a profound Christian movement, those who identify as Mormons, can be non-religious, secular, independent, non-practising, as well as belonging to other Christian denominations.

All of this means that though, the Mormon wedding traditions are deeply rooted in their religion and to some extent reflect the Victorian period when the Mormons formed as a religious and cultural group, these traditions and wedding ceremonies are what bind together the different strands of Mormonism into a Christian Wedding Service.

The wedding ceremony and its customs are like the rest of the Mormon creed, focused on the Mormon Temple Church and the couple’s dedication to living their lives for their Lord.

Mormon Wedding Ceremonies

There are two types of Latter-day Saints services: an official temple wedding and a standard church service. A temple wedding is always held within a Mormon Holy Temples and is considered a marriage for all eternity.

Before the Temple Wedding Ceremony

To get permission for a temple wedding (also called a Sealing Ordinance), the bride and groom to be, must attend an interview with their Bishop, during which they will attest to their religious faith and duty.

They must attest that they believe in the teachings of the Mormon Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and that they follow its rules and precepts. These rules and precepts include:

  • Abstaining from alcohol
  • Abstaining from tobacco
  • Abstaining From recreational drugs
  • Abstaining from tea
  • Abstaining from sex
  • Paying a tithe (10%) of their income to the Mormon church

If the bishop is happy with the couple’s answers, he will sign what is called a ‘temple recommend’. This gives the recipient/s permission to enter a Mormon Holy Temple.

The temple recommend must be submitted to the Stake President, a regional bishop.

The Stake President will also interview the couple and if he is equally happy with their answers, will add his signature to the temple recommend.

Once the temple recommend contains both the signatures, the couple can now arrange to tie the knot at the Temple Wedding Ceremony.

The Temple Wedding Ceremony

The first thing to be aware of when it comes to the Mormon Temple Wedding Ceremony, is that everybody has to have a temple recommend to allow them to enter the holy Mormon temple, not just the couple getting married. 

This means all the wedding guests and family must also have been interviewed by the bishops in advance and deemed suitable to allowed to enter the temple itself.

This tends to result in Mormon Weddings being quite small. If a couple want a larger wedding service, then they are going to have to consider a standard wedding service followed up with a Sealing ceremony at a later date.

The Mormon temple wedding ceremony is performed in front of the couple’s family, friends, and fellow church members, and generally lasts about thirty minutes. This is more like a typical church wedding service you see in other faiths but there are some specifications that are unique to LDS culture. 

No cameras are allowed in the church. Neither are candles, flowers, or music

The intent is that the couple focuses on dedicating their lives to God and to each other rather than on overt pageantry or partying. Brides must not cover their hair with a veil or hat, and their dresses must cover the shoulders.

The minimum number of people who must attend a Mormon Temple Service include:

  • The bride to be
  • The groom
  • The temple president OR 
  • A temple sealer (a clergy member with authority to officiate a wedding)
  • At least two witnesses

The Mormon Sealing Ceremony

Mormons believe that all marriages are dissolved at the death of the first wedding partner but if the marriage is additionally sealed in a Mormon temple, the Mormon couple’s marriage will continue beyond death and resurrection for all eternity (as long as they remain faithful to the Mormon church).

The marriage ceremony performed in the LDS Church’s temples reflects this with the replacement of the traditional Anglican words “until death do us part” with “for time and all eternity”.

The sealing ceremony is performed by a priest in the Mormon temple, in private with only the couple, which proverbially seals the couple together and to their commitment to God. A temple sealing is considered one of the highest honors in the Mormon church. 

Other members of the wedding party are expected to wait in the temple waiting room itself during the private sealing ceremony.

Though the Mormon/LDS church recognises other civil and religious wedding services between monogamous, heterosexual couples (the LDS church allows for non-sexually active, non-heterosexuals to be church members but does not recognise same sex marriage), they do not believe these are eternal marriages and will not continue after death such as a Mormon Celestial marriage that includes a sealing.

As an aside, Mormon customs also allow for children to be sealed to their parents in a similar ceremony. 

Mormon Sealing Ceremony Wedding Vows

During the Sealing Ceremony itself, the woman and the man are required to sit on opposite sides of the alter in the temple sealing room. They are also required to wear ceremonial Mormon temple robes.

They then grasp each other’s right hand and face double mirrors that create an infinite reflection, representing infinity of time itself.

The temple president or sealer reads the following vows to the groom and then repeats for the wife with the changes in the parentheses.

The bride and groom must respond with ‘Yes’ when asked.

Brother _[last name]_, do you take Sister _[last name]_ by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawfully wedded wife (give yourself to him to be his lawfully wedded wife, and receive him to be your lawfully wedded husband), for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this holy order of matrimony in the new and everlasting covenant; and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?

They are then pronounced husband and wife and promised blessings 

A Mormon Wedding Reception

A reception usually immediately follows the temple ceremony and any family member or guest, Mormon or not, can attend. Some couples opt to have a “ring ceremony” at the reception because the exchange of rings is not included in the sealing ceremony, and guests who may not have been allowed access into the temple can witness this special part of the day. 

The reception can be held at whatever type of venue the couple chooses. Music, dancing, decor, and photography are permitted during the reception, but alcohol is not. 

After the reception, or in lieu of, some couples host a less formal “open house” in one of their parent’s homes where guests and well-wishers can visit with the couple and family throughout the day and partake in light food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Mormon Wedding Ring Ceremony 

Ring ceremonies have become more and more popular for Latter Day Saint couples and their families. For Mormons, A ring ceremony is a public event where the bride and groom exchange rings. It is often performed so non-Mormon family and friends can help the couple celebrate their marriage. 

The Mormon Church/LDS however, does not recognise the exchange of wedding rings as a valid pat of the Mormon Wedding Ceremony. Its official position states:

Exchanging rings is not part of the temple sealing ceremony. However, couples may exchange rings after the ceremony in the sealing room. Couples should not exchange rings at any other time or place in a temple or on temple grounds. Doing so can detract from the ceremony.

Couples who are married and sealed in the same ceremony may exchange rings at a later time to accommodate family members who are unable to attend a temple marriage. The ring exchange should be consistent with the dignity of a temple marriage. The exchange should not replicate any part of the temple marriage or sealing ceremony. The couple should not exchange vows after being married or sealed in the temple.

Couples who are married civilly before their temple sealing may exchange rings at their civil ceremony, at their temple sealing, or at both ceremonies.

This means that the type and structure of the ring ceremony a couple can perform will depend not only on where the ceremony is held, but when it is held in relation to the sealing ceremony, and who is involved. That is, members and non-LDS members are present. 

The main thing to bear in mind is that for the Mormon Church this is an add on to the service and dies not duplicate or replace any part of the original wedding service itself.

That all said, a base structure for a Mormon Ring Ceremony could include all or parts of the following:

  • The seating of the guests
  • The procession of the bride and groom with the church leader
  • A Few words by the church elder
  • A Few words from family and friends
  • A speech, poem etc 
  • The exchanging of the rings
  • The couple share their thoughts and wishes (no duplication of wedding vows)
  • The couple Kiss
  • The exit of the bride and groom with the church leader

A Non-Temple Wedding/standard church service

A non-temple wedding/standard church service is open to anyone regardless of whether they are a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints or not. They do not require anyone to hold a temple recommend and a local Mormon bishop at any Mormon church or temple can perform the service.

They may take place at an alternate venue such as a park or banquet hall. However, this type of ceremony is not considered official by the church and the only true way to be married in the eyes of the church is to be sealed in a Mormon temple. 

Couples that decide on this route, can, if they require, follow this civil service later with a full Mormon temple wedding and sealing ceremony. 

Being a guest at a Mormon Wedding

If you have been invited to a Mormon wedding celebration, expect that if you are not a member of the LDS church, you will not be allowed to witness the ceremony but will be able to participate in other activities. 

You should dress modestly and women should be sure to cover their shoulders and wear skirts or dresses hitting below the knee. 

Also, all parties surrounding the event will be non-alcoholic and possibly caffeine-free. 

Gifts for the couple are permitted and, like most couples, registries are a good place to start when choosing a wedding present for a Mormon couple.

Mormon weddings are rich in history and tradition, and are becoming increasingly popular as many Americans are drawn to this religion.

Lisa

Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.