Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Including non-member parents in our Temple Wedding

On the long ride from BYU to my home in California, I kept wondering how my family would respond to the news that I was getting married. My fiance had asked me to marry him just a few hours before, and now I was on my way home to spend a couple of weeks before starting my last summer class, so I could graduate in August.

Though I was excited, I had a growing sense of uneasiness about how my family would react to my marriage, and especially to my being married in the temple. Four years before when I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they hadn’t approved, and things hadn’t changed.

When I arrived home, I lasted a whole ten minutes before I blurted out my news. My step-father seemed happy, but not my mother. During the next few days, she kept trying to discourage me from getting married: Did he really love me? I hadn’t known him long enough. They needed to meet him before they gave approval. I should wait longer, perhaps a few years. Right now wasn’t a good time for the family to have a wedding. I wasn’t being considerate of them. Besides, I was wasting my education. Other family members took me aside and counseled me to at least put off having children for several years and “enjoy life first”.

Since I hadn’t realized that my marriage would be such an emotional issue, I prayed for help in dealing positively with my family. I tried to understand their feelings. I was the first to marry in the family, and the only daughter. Not being able to attend my wedding certainly was not the wedding of their dreams.

Also, I reminded myself that they loved me and wanted me to have a happier life than they had experienced. Without the gospel, they felt I would be happier as a professional teacher rather than as a wife and mother. I knew arguing would not change their feelings, but I hoped they would eventually see that the path I was choosing was bringing me joy. I shared my feelings with my family, carefully explaining how much it meant to my fiance and I to make an eternal commitment to each other and be sealed for all eternity.

With the help of the Holy Ghost, I was able to remain calm and reassuring. I stood firm that we would be married that August in the Oakland Temple, but was willing to accommodate them on anything else we could.

With this attitude, my fiance and I tried to include my family in all our preparations. Though we were in our mid-twenties, Garrett called both my father and step-father for my hand in marriage. They were pleased. Since my mother enjoyed sewing, she and I designed a simple wedding dress which she made for me. My mother and I spent time together doing such things  picking out a wedding bouquet and a wedding cake. My brother, a amateur photographer, agreed to take our wedding pictures. Also, we decided to have a small open house at my mother and step-father’s home instead of a reception at the church where they would feel uncomfortable.

When it came to the wedding day, we found out about what time we would be leaving the temple and had them arrive at the temple shortly before. We arranged for a good friend who was a member of the church to  greet them outside the temple and wait with our family in the temple waiting room. They seemed to feel that they were more a part of our wedding being at the temple and even felt they were “in” the temple. Having them arrive in time to greet my husband and I kept the focus on what they could do instead of on what they were missing.

Though we had friends we would have loved to attend our sealing, we were sensitive to my mother’s feelings and had no one else share that experience with us. After greeting everyone in the waiting room, we enjoyed time together taking pictures on the temple grounds, and that evening, the open house together.

Many years later, we repeated this experience when our oldest son was married in the temple. Once again, we had them arrive about the time our son and his bride would be leaving the temple. Since we realized that our family would feel uncomfortable entering the temple on their own, we had our teenage son wait for his grandparents outside the temple, bring them into the waiting room, and stay with them. We included them in the picture taking around the temple and seated them beside us at the wedding dinner. At the reception held at the bride’s home, I gave my mother a corsage to wear and  made a place for them in the wedding line next to us, introducing them to all the guests. They were flattered and happy. My mom even declared, “there was plenty for us to be included in”, and that was true.

part of this article was published in

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