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Ceremony: Mormon Wedding Requirements

Although the religion is familiar, when it comes time for that walk down the aisle, the no-cameras-allowed policy and the strict members-only guest list keeps the official temple ceremony a mystery (especially since members aren’t permitted to divulge details!). Undeterred, we broke out our trench coats and got the scoop on what it takes to plan a Mormon ceremony.

Ceremony Styles

There are two types of Latter-day Saints services: an official temple wedding and a standard church service. A temple wedding is always held within one of the world's 131 (and counting) Holy Temples, and is considered a marriage for all eternity (not just "until death do you part"). The devout strive for a temple wedding, which requires advance permission from clergy.

Before the Ceremony

To get permission for a temple wedding (also called a Sealing Ordinance), you must both attend a private interview with your local bishop, at which you'll answer questions about your religious diligence. Basically, you’ll attest that you believe in the teachings of the church and that you're following its specific precepts. These include following the Code of Health (abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea), being Morally Clean (abstaining from sex, or even heavy petting, according to some bishops), and following the Law of Tithing (paying 10% of your income to the church).

If your bishop finds you diligent, he'll sign a "temple recommend," which gives you permission to enter a Holy Temple. You’ll then take your temple recommend to the stake president, a religious leader who oversees several bishops in a large region. He'll ask you the same basic questions and if he's satisfied with your answers, he’ll sign your temple recommend, too. When you've gotten both signatures, you're ready to tie that eternal knot. Once you set up the interviews, it should take about a week to complete the whole temple approval process.

The Temple Ceremony

Only faithful members of the Church are allowed to attend. All your guests must have a temple recommend issued by their bishop to enter the temple, which means your ceremony will likely be smaller than it would be in a non-temple wedding (usually it's just family and close friends). The temple president or a temple sealer (a clergy member with authority to officiate a wedding) will oversee. You need at least two witnesses.

A Non-Temple Wedding

A non-temple wedding is open to anyone -- whether you're a Church of Latter-day Saints member or not. You don't need a temple recommend, and a local bishop at any Mormon church can officiate your wedding. If you take this route or have a civil ceremony, you may be able to have a Temple Wedding later (after you've begun following Mormon precepts) to seal the marriage for eternity.

-- Robin Beth Schaer

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