Marital Traditions of the Mormons

Mormon weddings are performed in Holy Temples.
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For Mormons, getting married is life's greatest priority. All faithful members strive to marry in the temple, as it is believed that the highest level of heaven is reserved for members who have undergone this sacred ceremony. While temple ceremonies are the central focus of Mormon weddings, a plenitude of marital traditions have found their place in Mormon culture.

1 Pre-Wedding Traditions

There are lengthy to-do lists for Mormons hoping to marry in the temple, and in the weeks before the wedding, couples are typically quite busy with pre-wedding rituals. Most importantly, both bride and groom must have been faithful members for at least one year, and both must have also experienced the endowment ceremony, a separate temple ceremony that takes place before either marriage or missionary service. Outside of the temple ceremonies, most Mormons hire a wedding photographer to shoot engagement, bridal and wedding photos, and mail printed invitations to family, friends and local church members. Most Mormon women hold bridal showers, and plan their wedding receptions in meticulous detail, often having a rehearsal dinner.

2 Temple Weddings

The temple wedding ceremony itself is accomplished by the temple act of sealing. This ordinance is believed to bind together husbands and wives, as well as entire families, beyond death. The sealing ceremony is considered a solemn yet joyous affair, both parties donning temple clothing and making promises with one another meant to last for eternity. Mormons believe that as long as these promises are kept, the couple will remain together forever. Because everything that happens inside LDS temples is considered highly sacred, Mormons do not discuss the specifics of what happens inside the temple. Only friends and family members found worthy by local Mormon authorities may attend the sealing ceremony.

3 Non-Temple Weddings

Some members are found unworthy to enter the temple due to not being completely obedient to the laws of the church. These members may marry outside the temple, in an LDS church building or any venue of the couple's choosing. The Bishop or Branch President of the members' local ward or branch may officiate the ceremony, and unlike the temple ceremony, all family and friends are permitted to attend. Worthy couples may then undergo the sealing ceremony at a later date.

4 Reception Traditions

Since the wedding ceremony itself is attended only by core family members and friends, the reception is where all of the couple's friends, family and associates gather to celebrate. Unlike inside the temple, the bride may wear a traditional white wedding dress at the reception. The guest list is often quite lengthy, including large extended families and members of the local congregations, all of whom are generally funneled into a line to drop off their gifts and briefly congratulate the newlyweds. Even the most "simple" of Mormon receptions are often quite costly, planned down to the smallest details. LDS newlyweds often depart for their honeymoons immediately after the reception, but not before their getaway vehicle has been decorated. This job is usually done by family members and close friends using shaving cream, toilet paper, streamers, and balloons while attaching empty tin cans to the rear bumper, making sure that the new couple's first stop will be at the nearest car wash.

Anthon Jackson is a writer and photographer. Since obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern studies in 2008, he has authored travel guides for the likes of Rough Guides, A-Z World Travels and Adventure Journey while his work has also been featured by such publications as "GEOspecial," "Reader's Digest," Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveler.