There are many scenarios that would render inactive, newly baptized, or non-LDS families or friends unable to participate in a temple marriage ceremony. If your upcoming wedding plans include one of these scenarios, the decisions you make about ways to include those family and friends who will be unable to join you in the temple ceremony will affect not only the planning stage and the wedding day, but will probably have a lasting effect for many years to come. If your attitude is one of patience and inclusion, hearts can be softened and future relationships strengthened.
Here are some ideas to help family members and friends who cannot attend the temple ceremony still feel part of your wedding day:
• Involve those who cannot participate in the temple portion of the day with as many other details as possible as you prepare for your wedding day.
• Use this occasion to give the gift of knowledge to those you love. Give them an illustrated book about the temples, such as the Church’s magazine booklet that is filled with beautiful photos and explanations of what they are used for or this beautiful photography book that also chronicles the LDS history through temples. You can also give them a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World and explain its important principles and how those principles are central to what you believe.
• Have a family meeting to discuss what is involved. Invite your bishop or another priesthood leader to explain the importance placed on the family and how the temple is an integral component of eternal families. Such an occasion could provide an informal and friendly environment for questions and answers.
• When creating your guest list for the temple, keep it limited. All temple sealings should have a small guest list, as it is a very personal ceremony, but when nonmember loved ones are involved, the list should be made even shorter. Avoid inviting extended family and friends so as not to wound feelings further.
• Invite those who cannot enter the temple to come to the temple with you. Arrange for someone to wait with them outside on the grounds or in the waiting room. In many cases a member of the temple presidency will be able to meet with your guests and answer questions. Some temples conduct tours of the grounds or have visitors’ centers.
• Consider holding a ring ceremony after the sealing. This is not to be done on temple grounds, and caution should be taken not to make the ring exchange become a pseudo wedding ceremony; however it may mean a great deal to a parent or relative who has looked forward to this event for many years to be included in this portion of the ceremony.
With the proper planning, your temple wedding can be used as an opportunity to build future relationships rather than become an obstacle that creates discord. A great deal will depend on your attitude. Don’t be apologetic. Instead, talk about how excited and happy you are, and how grateful you are to all of your friends and family members for making your wedding day so special.