It is so interesting to learn about the rituals and traditions of other religions, especially in such things as marriage. Mormon weddings have some traditions we don’t often see in our daily lives.
While they may look different, Mormon weddings are very romantic. They genuinely believe they are pledging themselves to each other for all eternity.
Read on to learn more about Mormon wedding traditions and rituals.
11 Mormon Wedding Traditions and Rituals
The first thing that stood out to us was that Mormons are allowed to have temple weddings. However, these temple weddings are much more intense than typical civil weddings.
Mormon temple weddings have a lot of stringent rules about who can enter and how they should act during the ceremony. The appeal of a temple wedding is “eternal” marriage, meaning that the marriage will continue even into heaven.
Here are some of the Mormon wedding traditions and rituals in the temple:
1. Weddings Happen in the Mormon Temple.
As previously mentioned, Mormon couples qualifying for and desiring an “eternal” marriage must marry in a Mormon temple. However, there are only 230 Mormon temples in the world.
Couples wanting to be married in a temple must save money and have a “destination” wedding at the nearest temple. But, even after all that effort, they cannot invite whoever they want to ask; they can only invite those with a temple recommend.
2. Attendees Must Receive a “Temple Recommend”
The next requirement to attend a Mormon temple wedding is acquiring a temple recommend. Attendees and the bride and groom alike must receive one to enter the temple.
Acquiring a temple recommend is a long and challenging process, necessitating meetings with their local bishop and local state president. Both of these men must evaluate your contributions to the church, church attendance, and adherence to commandments.
Anyone not receiving a temple recommendation cannot attend the ceremony. That includes anyone who has not followed the rules and requirements of the church in the past year or has not had an adequate attendance record. Thus, non-Mormons and Mormons without a temple recommend cannot attend a temple wedding.
However, there is usually a special waiting room for people who don’t receive temple recommends. Sometimes non-Mormon friends and family just wait outside the temple and celebrate with the newlyweds after they are officially married.
3. Attendees Must Be 18 or Older.
First, all guests in attendance at the ceremony must be 18 years of age or older. This is because people at this age can make choices for themselves, thus allowing them to receive a temple recommend.
4. The Wedding is Officiated by a “Sealer.”
Temple weddings are officiated by a “sealer” or a priest with this authority. The sealer ensures that the couple is sealed or married for eternity. This sealer officiates the entire ceremony just like any other officiant would do.
Couples who get sealed in marriage have benefits for their entire lifetimes. They believe that they will be married even after death. They believe that their children are with them even after death as well.
5. Witnesses Must Both Be Men.
Mormons still complete the civil aspects of marriage; they still apply for a wedding certificate and sign it after the ceremony. However, for it to be valid in the eyes of the church, the signing witnesses must both be men with temple recommends and belonging to the priesthood order of Melchizedek.
6. No Photos are Allowed.
As established, temple weddings are very sacred. Therefore, photography is strictly prohibited in the temple. However, you can take photos leaving the temple and outside of the temple.
Many people choose to take family photos in front of the temple. Some people also coordinate an exit picture like the typical and popular “send off” photos.
7. Neither the Couple nor the Attendees Can Talk About the Ceremony.
Another aspect of a temple wedding is the secrecy surrounding the ceremony. There are strict rules in the Mormon community that neither the couple nor the attendees can talk about the ceremony after it has happened. Thus, all we know about Mormon temple weddings comes from Mormons who have left the religion.
8. Big Reception with Non-Mormons.
Because Mormon wedding ceremonies are locked-down to non-Mormons, many couples choose to host a wedding reception where they can invite all of their friends and loved ones.
These receptions are usually not controlled by the church, so the couple can celebrate however they want.
Though Mormons are allowed to have temple weddings, and they are highly respected, you don’t have to have a temple wedding.
If a Mormon couple has not attended church faithfully, kept the necessary commandments, or if they do not want an eternal marriage, they can just have a civil ceremony.
Here are some Mormon wedding traditions and rituals in the non-temple wedding:
9. Performed by a Non-Sealer.
A Mormon civil ceremony is performed by any church’s bishop, mission president, stake president, district president, or branch president. It does not have to be a priest.
The above-listed church leaders are much more common, thus, easier to hire as an officiant. They are also usually more personal since many leaders are more involved in your local church.
However, since local church leaders are not “sealers,” they cannot perform eternity marriages. Any marriages officiated by a local church leader will be ended by death and will not continue in heaven.
10. Does Not Take Place in a Temple.
Another aspect of a non-temple Mormon wedding is that it takes place in a church building or another venue. The Mormon church allows for marriage outside of the temple.
This also allows for inviting as many non-Mormons as the couple wants.
Again, they can invite whomever they want, but the consequence is a non-sealed marriage.
However, couples can always seal their marriage afterward.
11. Work Toward Having their Marriage Sealed in a Temple.
The church recommends that a temple sealing should follow up any civil ceremony.
There is no specific time that a Mormon couple needs to have their marriage sealed—it can happen before or after.
However, the couple must be worthy of temple recommends before being sealed.
General Expectations for Mormon Weddings
Is this your first time attending a Mormon wedding?
You will need to know a few things to direct your expectations.
Here is what you should expect at a Mormon wedding:
1. No Alcohol or Hot Drinks.
Though common in many weddings, you will not find beverages like alcohol, coffee, or hot tea at a Mormon wedding. This is because their scriptures specifically command against these drinks.
However, they will likely provide soda, lemonade, flavored waters, or punch at the reception. So come in with this as your expectation, and have fun without alcohol!
Another expectation you should have as you prepare for your Mormon friends’ wedding is modesty. Mormon wedding dresses are required to be very modest.
They have a few rules and requirements for wedding dresses:
- Wedding dresses should be white.
- Dresses should have a high neckline and a long skirt.
- Dresses should be long-sleeved.
- Sheer fabrics have to have a liner, so no skin is showing.
- No train (or a train that can be bustled for the ceremony).
- Dresses should not have a slit.
- Dresses should be fairly simple and not ornamental.
While these rules are only required in a temple ceremony, many brides choose dresses that adhere to these rules anyway. This decision ensures the dress is perfectly modest.
At a Mormon wedding, all attendees are expected to dress modestly as well. Here are some guidelines of what not to wear to a Mormon wedding:
- Tight skirts or dresses.
- Short skirts or dresses.
- Tight shirts.
- Midriff-showing dresses or tops.
- Anything “extreme” that will draw attention.
3. Will Not Take Place on a Sunday.
Church policies prevent Mormon weddings from taking place during their Sabbath day. That means you will likely not attend a Mormon wedding on a Sunday.
They are also prevented from being held during “unusual hours.”
If the wedding happens in a church building, it is also prohibited from taking place on Monday evenings.
This is because Monday evenings are “family home evenings.” Joseph Smtih, the founder of the religion, instituted family home evenings.
So, Mormons stay home on Monday evenings to strengthen family unity.
4. Adherence to a Ceremony Script.
Any Mormon civil service ceremony will likely have very similar ceremony wording.
This similarity is because the church policies provide a script for church leaders to use in civil service ceremonies.
This script is relatively thorough, so there may be little deviation from the script in the ceremony.
5. Expect To Recognize Reception Traditions.
Though it seems like Mormons are very strict with wedding rituals, Mormon receptions can look similar to any other wedding reception!
They will usually have snacks, music, and dancing.
Many also choose to incorporate a garter toss and bouquet throw as well. Mormon wedding receptions are entertaining to engage in.