Michael and I planned our wedding almost entirely by ourselves, which was great because it allowed us to make the decisions we wanted to make. Our wedding was in every way our dream event.
It was hard at first to plan the wedding because neither of us had a lot to go on. Growing up I thought I would be married in an LDS temple, so the only thing I ever thought about with my future wedding was which temple it would be in (I had to find a girl who was from a city with a beautiful temple like San Diego).
Once that was out the window, I had nothing. I haven’t been to many weddings in my life in general. I have only been to three non-LDS weddings—at the age of 5, 8, and 13, so I wasn’t exactly taking notes. I had never been to a same sex wedding—who has? Even if I had, there isn’t a long tradition for them. On the one hand, all of this gave us a freedom to be creative and create something unique, but it also meant we didn’t have a foundation to build on, so as soon as we started to plan our wedding, I began researching weddings. Over the thirteen months it took us to plan it and pull it all together, I learned a lot about the components of weddings in different cultures, the history of American wedding traditions/styles/fads, and wedding etiquette.
I’ve thought a lot about how all that—wedding components, traditions, and etiquette—in most weddings compares to the LDS Temple weddings I was initially most accustomed to. For one thing, after my wedding, my grandma told me how much it meant to her that she could see our faces as we exchanged vows. As a nonmember in a Mormon family, she isn’t allowed to go to weddings. She couldn’t see my parents exchange vows, or my aunt, or her other grandchildren, or her siblings, or her nieces and nephews. In fact, in my family, my wedding was the first in 16 years that everyone (Mormon, non-Mormon, or child) was invited to attend. For people like my grandma, that is kind of sad. No one ever told her they missed her at those weddings, and she said that until she saw the joy in our faces she hadn’t even realized what she was missing by being excluded.
If you’ve ever been to a temple wedding, you know how underwhelming it can be. There isn’t much to miss. Their ceremonies don’t include any of the traditional Christian components like the processional, readings, exchange of rings, etc. If you haven’t been to one, I can tell you that Mormon weddings aren’t designed for an audience. They are brief, simple, and full of symbolism that is only meaningful to those who have been initiated in the temple. None of that is consolation, though, for my grandma who would have liked to see my dad’s eyes when he took my mom as his wife.
There are a lot of unique and truly wonderful aspects of Mormon weddings. The idea that they extend forever is very beautiful, and I like how clear it is that marriage includes obligations and promises that will be hard to keep. I also like how affordable they are—that there is a push away from materialism and excess and a focus on the spiritual aspects of the union. But in all, I am very glad that I didn’t have a temple wedding. I am glad my grandma could be there, and my friends. I am glad we got to design our own ceremony, choosing those things that were meaningful to us and omitting anything that wasn’t. I am glad we got to write our own vows. I am glad we could choose the venue. I am glad we could create our own traditions, and make it our dream event.