In a few weeks’ time I will be attending my first Mormon (the real name of the church being known as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!) wedding. My good friend, Ben, is getting married (I can’t believe he’s getting married before me!) in Cambridge and I’m so excited to see him get married. I only learnt about his religion when we had both left school! This got me thinking, that I didn’t know what to expect when attending his wedding so I asked him for information about his wedding and Mormon weddings generally.
Please bear in mind that this information comes from him and although he has given an insight into his church, obviously things might differ depending on location, culture and family circumstances. Below is the general layout of his wedding and according to him, Mormon weddings often follow this structure.
The civil ceremony takes place in one of the many Churches meeting houses (commonly in a local town). The bishop who leads the Sunday congregation carries out the wedding service. The Bishop is an unpaid minister (although this is a full time responsibility and he will be retired or have a secular job. Ben’s Bishop currently for example is an accountant). Photographs are not allowed to be taken during the service. The service starts and commences with a prayer (this can be given by anyone and is not a set prayer). The service ordinarily lasts just under an hour, during this time there are a couple of speakers, musical items, the service itself and signing of the register. Mormons believe that the civil marriage applies until death…
Until death do us part…
Like most weddings, the after the wedding ceremony, the reception takes place. Often Mormon weddings will use the church hall for this but other times private locations are often used too. My friend’s wedding will be at Newham college in Cambridge. This consists of the standard reception traditions with food, dancing, speeches, toasts and celebrating the bride and groom with confetti and photos.
Ben and his fiancé are also going punting on the river Cam with their guests. From punting, he and the bride will then head off to the temple. This is to Mormons, the most important part of the day. In some countries, where temples are not nearby, many couples make great sacrifices to be able to both logistically and financially get there!
This is what really what makes Mormon weddings differ from most/ all Christian weddings! Along with the civil marriage, Mormons will have a temple marriage on the same day this takes place in one of the 140 temples operated around the world by the church. A temple marriage is a short service (15 minutes) in which the bride and groom are sealed to each other (married after death), as long as they both continue to keep their promises made to each other throughout their lives.
Within the marriage vows, they not only commit themselves to each other but also promise to strive to keep God in their marriage and in their lives. As they covenant to do this, they believe they will be strengthened and blessed through the decision to include God in their lives and in their decisions and be able to receive guidance as a couple. If they are faithful to the covenants made in the temple, they believe that their marriage will go beyond this life into the eternity. An example of a Mormon temple is above – this is the one my friend and his wife will attend for their temple marriage, based near Surrey.
If you would like to find more about the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon- is really their nickname!) then please visit the website: www.lds.org2