Family dynamics between active, less active, and non-member individuals can be sensitive and hard to navigate. Throw in a temple wedding on top of that and you could potentially be in for a disaster.
This day should be about you, your spouse, and the covenants you make with God in His holy house. For that to go smoothly President Boyd K. Packer advised,
The young couple must understand that their parents may have looked forward to the wedding day during the entire lives of the bride and groom. Their desire to attend the wedding, and their resentment when they cannot, is a sign of parental attachment. It is not to be resented by the young couple. It is to be understood and planned for carefully as a part of the wedding.
With that being said, here are some ways to include your family on your big day.
Hold a civil ceremony before the temple ceremony.
You may choose to do this so that all family members can participate. Since May 2019 a policy change now permits a couple to hold a civil ceremony before their temple sealing without having to wait a year in between the two. The purpose of this is twofold.
As stated by the first presidency: “Where a licensed marriage is not permitted in the temple, or when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded, a civil marriage followed by a temple sealing is authorized.”
The second purpose is to “provide more opportunities for families to come together in love and unity during the special time of marriage and sealing of a man and woman.” They continued by explaining that this policy change in no way lessens the importance or value of a temple sealing.
Hold a ring ceremony after the sealing.
Hold a ring ceremony after the sealing with a focus on the covenants made to each other in the temple. Rings are not exchanged as part of the temple wedding ceremony so this is something that can be shared with family. This can also include vows and your dad walking you down the aisle if you wish. Many families do this in order to have a ceremony that resembles a traditional American wedding.
Make sure they know that you love them.
Hug them, write them a letter to read while you are in the temple, do something that is meaningful for both of you so that they feel your love. You are close to these people and you should not make them feel pushed away on one of the most significant days of your life.
Call the temple.
Call and ask the temple for ideas on how to involve your parents while you are in the temple. Some parents have described this as the loneliest hour of their lives. If the sealer is permitted to meet your family in the foyer, have him introduce himself to them beforehand. This can often ease some stress or discomfort. If there is a visitor’s center available that is often a peaceful and spirit-filled place to wait.
Include them in the wedding planning process.
This can often help your family feel like they are a part of the day because it is tangible. If your grandmother is not a member, take her dress or suit shopping with you. If your mother is not active, ask her to help you with the logistics of planning. These are just a couple of examples but I think you get the point. It is important that you be the one to reach out for their help. Explain to them how the logistics of the day are going to work so that they feel comfortable.
Ask them to give a speech or toast.
Have them speak or honor them in some way at your reception or rehearsal dinner. This will give them the opportunity to publicly express their love for you and your new spouse. It will also give them the honor of being able to speak to all those you love about their feelings. Emotions are highly charged on this day so let them share.
Make sure they understand why you want a temple wedding.
Just because the policy has changed doesn’t mean that we should be downplaying the importance of a temple wedding and eternal marriage. It should still be the central and most important part of the day for you. It is paramount that your parents or other family members understand why you feel it is so important.
How did you involve your family on your special day? Share in the comments.