Five reasons I tell my daughters to NOT get married in the temple

I loved everything about my wedding. My husband was and still is one of the best people I’ve ever met. I was excited to spend the rest of my life with him. We were sealed in the Bountiful Temple on a Thursday morning in May. We had a reception the next day in his stake center. He and I worked together to plan our reception. We wanted it to be something that was ours. It was the first big project we’d ever worked on together and its success cemented the knowledge that we were very compatible. 

At the time I was married I felt like my wedding went perfectly. And it had. Everything went as well as it could have in 2007. 

In 2019 the policy around temple sealings changed. Couples in the United States could be sealed in the temple right after their civil marriage. They no longer had to wait a year. When I heard that news I started to revisit some of my thoughts and feelings around my wedding day. I’ve realized that if I could do it over again – with the option to get married outside of the temple and then sealed later – I would have done things differently.  

This realization has impacted how I talk to my three daughters about their wedding days. They are about to enter their teenage years. I know that the Young Women Program will emphasize getting married in the temple. But at home we talk about marriage differently. I tell them to NOT get married in the temple. Here are five reasons why.

  1. You don’t want to exclude your younger or unendowed siblings. 

I’m the oldest in my family so when I was married none of my siblings could come to my wedding. Even my younger sister who was getting married two weeks later could not come to my wedding because she was not yet endowed. At the time this felt completely normal. I hadn’t been able to attend any of my aunt and uncle’s wedding ceremonies. I’d been just fine waiting in the visitor room of the temple during those ceremonies. It felt normal to ask the same thing of my siblings. I didn’t think about how odd it was that none of my siblings were at my wedding. 

Now that I look back on it I’m flabbergasted with how I was expected to exclude the people who mattered the most. My siblings are some of my closest friends, but they didn’t witness one of the biggest events of my life. 

I tell my daughters that they should be married outside the temple so that their siblings can come. This is especially applicable in our family because my son has intellectual disability. I don’t know if he’ll ever be mentally mature enough to be endowed. Without being endowed he will never be able to attend his sisters’ wedding ceremonies in the temple. I think he would be extremely disappointed to miss seeing their weddings. I know his sisters will want him to attend their weddings. 

  1. You don’t want to exclude family members who have left the church. 

When I was married my Grandmother and one of my aunt’s couldn’t attend my temple wedding. They had joined the church along with my mom years earlier, but had since gone inactive. At the time I felt bad, but basically thought, “well, that’s their choice. They should have repented and come back to church.”  Now I know how small minded my thinking was. 

At this point about 40% of my family has left the church. That number will probably increase by the time my girls are ready to get married. I can’t imagine planning their wedding days and saying, “well Uncle ____ can’t come” or “too bad Aunt _____ won’t be able to see you get married.” These are people we have gone camping with, who have braided my girls hair, who have listened to their stories, who care about them deeply. We can’t exclude them from the wedding because of their feelings about the church. 

And even if the family members haven’t fully left the church, they may not have a temple recommend at the time of the wedding. I quite possibly will be one of these people. I don’t want to be left out because of my complicated feelings toward the temple. And I don’t want to leave anyone else out either. 

  1. You can’t write your own vows for the temple

I deeply regret that the only word I said in my wedding ceremony was “Yes.” Also I had no idea what my vows would be ahead of time. I just went into the ceremony trusting my parents and my fiancé that everything would be fine. 

At the time I was fine with whatever I did say yes to. I was so happy to be marrying my husband. But I honestly have no memory of what I agreed to. With all the wording changes over the years I can’t just go to a sealing and hear the same words again. 

Even if I did remember the wording, I have no emotional connection to those vows. The beginning of my marriage to a man that I have a deep and fulfilling connection with, started with the same words that everyone else in my religion used in their ceremonies. Maybe there is something lovely to having the vows be standardized across an entire world religion, but it seems sterile to me. They weren’t words that we created. I’m a writer, I love words. I would have enjoyed writing my own vows that reflected my commitment and love to the man I’d chosen to spend my life with. 

I want my girls to have the option to write their own vows. To create something that is meaningful to them. I definitely want them to say more than one word at their own wedding. 

  1. You can’t pick your officiator in the temple. 

My husband and I literally never met the man who married us until about 20 minutes before the ceremony. Again, this was completely normal at the time. But now I’m shocked that we were so blasé about having a random person officiate at our wedding. 

He talked to us briefly before the ceremony, and was very nice, but he was in and out of our lives pretty quickly. I did run into him one other time at another temple. The only way I recognized him was by his name tag. I wouldn’t have recognized his face. 

I’d like my girls to have the option to pick a family friend to officiate at their weddings. Actually I’d love to be the one to officiate at their weddings. Officiating at a wedding is on my bucket list. I’d love to do it for my daughters. Their dad gave them their baby blessings and baptized them, it’s only fair that I be the one to marry them. 

I’ve told that to my girls, but they’ve told me that I’ll probably cry too much. Which is a valid point. Even if I’m not the one who officiates I think it should be someone who has been in their lives and will continue to be in their lives. 

  1. You might not be ready for the endowment ceremony when you are ready to be married.

Honestly, I didn’t want to go through the temple before my wedding. For years I’d had nightmares about getting lost in the temple. I’d struggled with feelings of worthiness. And I just wasn’t sure if garments were for me. But I felt immense pressure to get married in the temple. There was no way I was going to get married civilly and have everyone whisper behind my back about whether or not my husband and I had “messed up.” 

So I pushed down my worries and planned a temple wedding. I scheduled the ceremony, bought the clothes, and went through the temple. All the while I was wondering if I really wanted to do it. Even now I wonder if I would have ever gone through the temple if it hadn’t been part and parcel to my wedding. 

I want my girls to choose to go through the temple on their own timeline. Not because it’s coupled with something else. 

* * *

When I look back on my wedding, my favorite memories are from the reception. My husband and I had so much fun planning that reception. From designing the backdrop, to figuring out the way we wanted the room laid out, to selecting the dancing music; everything reflected our tastes and personalities. I wish we’d had the same options for our wedding ceremony.

The biggest thing I want for my daughters on their wedding day is to feel like they have control of their options. I don’t want them pressured into a ceremony in a certain building just because it’s expected of them. I want them to know that they can have the wedding they want, with the guests they want, with the words they want, and in the place they want.

These are my reasons for telling my girls to get married outside the temple. I’m curious if you have similar thoughts or if you want your children to be married in the temple. What are your reasons? I’m also curious about those of you who have sons. My only son is the one with intellectual disability so it’s hard for me to imagine his wedding day. I wrote this post with my daughters in mind, but I’m aware this could apply to both daughters and sons. What would you tell your sons about getting married inside or outside the temple?

Photo by Ty Welch on Unsplash

Ann has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and recently earned a second one in Accounting. Contrary to what some people told her, she has been able to use the degrees while raising her four children.


  1. Another plus of getting married outside (that falls under the writing your own vows category) is that your wedding can be decoupled from the sexism that permeates the temple, in the sealing and the endowment.

      • Yes! This is another reason I wish I could have written my own vows. I don’t remember what was said at my wedding, but based on what other people have said – and what the wording is now I know that it wasn’t egalitarian. It’s a shame too – because my marriage is very egalitarian. I wish our vows reflected that.

  2. My daughter got married in Timpanogos 22 years ago. Two in my family were able to go into the temple so there were us two—me and my mother in law—and about 25 on my son-in-law’s side with about 30 more of his family waiting outside the Temple in the 90+ degree heat. My wonderful Roman Catholic cousin had traveled all the way from Montreal to Utah for the wedding, even knowing she wouldn’t be able to see the actual ceremony, because she said she felt it was important that she support me and my daughter as close family irregardless. I am sorry now that I couldn’t see that her brand of familial love and loyalty was probably more Christlike than anything I saw that day as we were virtually ignored by my son-in-law’s lifer Mormon family.

    22 years on I have four wonderful grandchildren and I am no longer active in the Church. Three of the grandchildren still go through the motions of attending seminary and church but they don’t have testimonies of the Church. It’s just that this town is overwhelmingly Mormon in its youth population. My eldest grandchild is at uni and doesn’t pretend anymore. My daughter and son in law are fine with the idea that probably none of their children will be married in the Temple. They have had enough experiences over the past 22 years where Temple dealings don’t mean that much to them; a close, loving family is what they cherish. As do I.

    • Thank you for sharing the story of your daughters wedding. I’m sure it was so hard to have so few people there to see your daughters wedding. Your cousin sounds amazing. I’m sorry that your son-in-laws family didn’t pay more attention to you.
      I’m glad that your daughter and son-in-law are okay with the idea that none of their children will be married in the temple. Sounds like they are focused on a loving family – even if it doesn’t fit the LDS norm.

  3. Thank you for articulating so many of my own feelings about to reconsider a temple marriage. I have complicated feelings myself, plus a non-member husband, a developmentally-disabled daughter (and to those who say she can still be endowed, there’s a discussion there with more complicated feelings!!), as well as a very active 24-yr-old daughter with a boyfriend, so this hits close to home. One thing that really got me to cringe as I read your essay was how normal I also thought temple exclusion was, for most of my life, in fact. I don’t feel that way anymore and appreciate so much how you sharing your thoughts.

    • Thank you. Yes we really were all conditioned to think that excluding people from weddings was normal. I’m glad that we are changing.

    • Sadly, it’s very true that queer people are automatically excluded from the temple. This is one of my complicated feelings toward the temple that makes it hard for me to want a temple recommend.

  4. One of my life’s biggest regrets is that we got married without either of our fathers in attendance. It has been 20 years and I always have a bit of heartache thinking about it. Sure we did the ring ceremony thing and vows later, but still. I don’t want my life (or afterlife) to be quite so exclusive.

  5. Thank you for articulating so well my thoughts and feelings. I was a convert to the church and the only member in my family. When I married in the temple, my parents (or anyone else in my family) were not allowed to be there. Although it was one of the lonliest days of my life, I was told I was doing the right thing. There was no temple in our home state at that time so we had to travel to Salt Lake. It caused a lot of hurt and hard feelings in my family for years to come. If the option had been there to marry first, and then travel to the temple, how much better things could have been.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so sad that your choice was held up as “righteous” when it caused so much pain for your family. And I’m so sorry that your wedding day was one of the loneliest days of your life. I’m glad the church has changed it’s policy so that other women in your situation don’t have to go through that.

  6. Yup. Marrying my husband was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Marrying in the temple is a decision I’ve regretted. I hate that I was taught that exclusion was righteous. My teenage brother was in a panic because he forgot his temple recommend. No one had remembered to talk him through the fact that he couldn’t attend!

    • So timely and relative to my own life. My son just married. He & his fiancee planned their wedding as you hope for your daughters:

      They chose their officiator- his older sister (Our daughter, a cancer survivor who is unable to have children.);
      they wrote their vows (so loving), 3. they invited all close family (including intellectually disabled brother) & friends to the wedding.
      They invited extended circle of family, friends, & everyone well-known in parents’ wards to the reception.

      It was beautiful. The Spirit was felt. Wonderful memories. No hurt feelings. Families bonded. Friendships strengthened.

      So different from my temple wedding 40 years ago at age 20 to my convert returned missionary. My non-member in-laws and family left outside. All my own younger siblings (I’m the oldest.) left in the waiting room with the in-laws. All they got were a few photos outside in the June Arizona heat. It was awkward & cruel. It left lasting hurt feelings.

      Recent update: the church just allowed intellectually disabled, age 18 & over, to attend a family temple wedding. See church handbook.

      I think the church hasn’t allowed youth & children, & the unitiated, to attend temple weddings due to the ceremonial clothing. I get that. I was weirded out when I was endowed & continued to be. If that has changed, I don’t see a reason.

      • Dana, your son’s wedding sounds so lovely and loving. What a contrast to your wedding. Thank you for sharing.

        And wow! I had no idea about the handbook change for intellectually disabled people. That’s progress.

    • Kaylee, I feel the same way. And that sounds like something my brother would do. I cried like a baby at his wedding, but he didn’t even get to come to mine.

  7. Well, of course, it isn’t just family and friends who are former members of the church who are excluded, but non-members as well. My parents were converts; my maternal grandparents joined around the same time, but my paternal grandparents did not. Our maternal grandma (a widow) attended; our paternal grandmother (a widow by then) was so hurt that she was not allowed to attend my sister’s wedding, but still flew out to Calif. from Florida for the reception. And I fell into the “worthy but not old enough” category, as did all the rest of our siblings, some of whom ended up excluded from my wedding as well years later.

    I served a full-time mission in France some 40+ years ago, and as with pretty much everywhere in Europe, one must get married civilly, as temple weddings don’t count. So people would have their friends and family join them for the civil ceremony at the mairie (town hall), have a party afterwards, and then (finances permitting), went on their honeymoon to the Swiss or London temples. No time penalty, no vicious gossiping. I often wondered why members in North America were punished just because the church had legally-recognized authority to marry them.

    I have friends who were the only converts in their families get married without any friends or relatives there to witness what should have been a joyous family event. I’m glad this thoughtless and cruel policy has changed, but one would think a church that claims to be led by a loving god would never have implemented such a policy of exclusion and estrangement in the first place.

    • So many good points. I really should have talked about how non-members are excluded. One of my closest friends from elementary school couldn’t come to my wedding because she was Jewish. And my twin girls are best friends with another set of twins who are not members. I think the fact that their best friends can’t come to the temple will probably be reason #1 why my girls will choose civil ceremonies.

      And I’ve also wondered why it was okay for members outside of the US to be married civilly first and then go the temple with no restrictions while the rest of us had to wait a year. I had a friend who often joked that she’d cracked the system because she married a man from South America in his home country.

      And it doesn’t make sense why the church would have put in such a cold hearted policy in the first place.

  8. I am a convert (age 16). My father passed away when I was a baby. Consequently, I was very close to my mom. I have siblings, but am not close to them. I was married 31 years ago in the temple. I was living clear across the country (US) when I got married, while still in college. My non-member mother flew out to be there. My new husband’s family were all members of the Church. Getting married in the temple was wonderful for them. Everyone got to be there. I’m still so angry that this Church made my mother sit in a waiting room of the temple while her daughter got married without her being there to witness it. She never said anything, but I know I hurt her deeply! How could I have done that to her?? I know at the time I felt like the sacrifice was worth it, and there is no way I would have gone against what was expected of me. She has long since passed away, so I have no way of telling her how very sorry I am. I also was so disappointed and hurt that I never got my childhood dream of a wedding in a big church with all my friends and family present. I have always felt cheated. My daughters are 30 and unmarried. One still wants to marry in the temple, if the opportunity ever arises, but the other one wants nothing to do with it. So much pain, and for what??

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that your mother wasn’t able to be at your wedding. and that you didn’t get the wedding you’d envisioned as a child. You’re right, what was the point of all that pain?

  9. I married my partner in 2018, doing the temple thing that is expected. We really wanted to do a meaningful ceremony that all our younger siblings, non-mormon friends and family could attend but knew there was some hostility toward making a ring ceremony too elaborat because it would compete with the attention that the temple should have on that day. We had the awkward only-part-of-the-family-can-come temple ceremony and wished the rules were different. When the rules changed less than a year later, we so wished that we could have done a civil ceremony first!

    My wedding was easily the happiest day of my life, but I don’t have any firm memory or mementos of the ceremony. The sealer was a family friend but kept forgetting whose family he was actually a friend of. And the vows I made had nothing to do with the unique relationship and values that we had as a couple, but instead was a covenant with God about entering a marriage and preparing for celestial life. Absolutely a good thing to do if you believe in it, but not a great wedding vibe. I honestly think that the temple ceremony would have been more meaningful to us too if we had done it on its own day, after all the hubbub and excitement of wedding plans, honeymoon plans, and hosting so many friends and family from afar.

    I’m totally with you on this one. Get married and sealed separately!

  10. Your post here has brought up a lot of tender feelings. I was married to my best friend nearly 50 years ago. Over the years, as I have matured I have come to all the same conclusions and recommendations that you have. I was married in the temple, far from my home state, excluding my parents and siblings, my bridesmaids and roommates, because I had been conditioned to believe that this was God’s one true way. I thought my excluded family and friends would understand this truth, and was completely unaware of any potential pain, hurt feelings, or confusion this might evoke. I believed I was doing the right thing.

    If I were to offer you words of comfort I would say, “you did the best you could with the knowledge (and opportunities) you had available at the time”. I would say, “you can’t change the past, only the present. You may be able to influence your children’s decisions, but in the end, it will be up to them to choose their own path.”

    Then I realize, these are the comforting words I need to keep telling myself. Repeatedly. I did the best I could with the beliefs I had at the time. All the influential people had taught me so. No one offered an alternative viewpoint.

    I hope for your daughters, (and all daughters and sons) that they know they have choices and that they will be given the opportunities to follow their own hearts without regret.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for your kind words. Yes, we were all doing the best we could with the knowledge that we had at the time.

  12. One more reason to get sealed later:
    You don’t have to wear garments! That alone as a newly wed is freedom to enjoy each other with more skin to skin contact and coupled bonding through visual and physical intimacy. Garments are horrible.

  13. I was married in the temple while my non-member family and siblings, all of whom had traveled from out of state, waited outside. There were just a few good friends of mine who were in the temple to witness for my side and the rest was my husband’s extended “lifer” family, including random cousins. To this day, my in-laws behave as if they are more a part of our family than my non-member parents. I absolutely wish my husband and I had just been married in the temple with only minimal attendees. Learning later that people in other nations could do things differently and then having the policy change in the US made me feel that my parents’ and my sacrifice was entirely unnecessary.

  14. I read the initial article and have read many/most of the responses. And….and…attend a Washing and Anointing ordinance in the Temple (the now commonly-used word of Initiatory is far too antiseptic), and ACTUALLY LISTEN to the words, especially those that are said at the end, as you receive (used to be literal, now it’s metaphorical) the Garments of the Holy Priesthood. Ponder the significance of those Garments of the Holy Priesthood and the account of God the Father sacrificing at least one sort of animal (probably more than one) in the Garden of Eden and making “coats of skins” for Adam and Eve, and clothing them in those coats before sending them out of the Garden of Eden (Moses 4:27). What is the symbolic relationship between those “coats of skins” made by God the Father (and perhaps/probably God the Mother?) and the Garments of the Holy Priesthood that we are privileged to wear today? Was that perhaps a “dry run” for God the Father/Mother, before literally sending His/Their Son down to the world to be sacrificed?

    Then attend a Sealing ordinance and ACTUALLY LISTEN to the promises made at the end of the ordinance. They go far beyond a marriage. They are a Sealing. Do we actually ponder the depth and breadth of what that actually means, or the potential for what that means?

    Are those combined promises of the Washing and Anointing and the Sealing ordinances worth the genuine sacrifices made to be married in the temple? For me, they are.

    Yes, people were/are excluded when they couldn’t attend the Sealing ceremony in the Temple. And they could have been bitter about being left out, or they could have said, “Wow, this couple is so committed to their relationship, they are willing to make these enormous sacrifices for the sake of their marriage ceremony….that’s pretty impressive….” Did those sacrifices help give the couple the mettle to survive the very genuine challenges that come with real-life marriage? For me, they did.

    I have attended many wedding ceremonies outside of the temple, including one of my own daughters. The vows the couples wrote were absolutely beautiful, poignant, heart-felt, well-intended, completely genuine, and very moving. And they paled in comparison to the vows made, and promises given, during a Sealing in the Temple. And while some written-by-the-couple vows include a covenant with God, the vows in the Temple ALWAYS include a covenant with God. In fact, that covenant with God is what is utterly core and fundamental to the marriage itself. The Sealing covenants aren’t just mortal person to mortal person, an automatically flawed dyad. In the Temple, it’s a Triad. A Triad worth sacrificing to get.

    Regarding the notion that someone isn’t ready to make covenants in the Temple, so they should just get married outside the Temple first: if they’re that “not ready” for the covenants that will be made in the Temple, then they are most likely not ready for a lifetime commitment to marriage anyway. A lifetime commitment to marriage is not for the feint of heart.

    Regarding the choice of officiators: Yes, that whole process can absolutely be improved. We were fortunate to be able to choose ours (our former Stake President who was also a Sealer). And the “temple-scheduling-gods were smiling on us” the day one of my daughters was sealed in the Temple and my former Bishop “randomly” happened to fill in for a friend that day, and was my daughter’s officiator. But yes, in that regard, the process absolutely can be improved….

    • Huh. You and I got completely different gists out of the original blog post. I never felt like she was saying that the sealing isn’t important or that she doesn’t want her kids to be sealed. I just thought she was saying get married civilly and then get sealed. You can even do it the next day if you want to! Some people have mentioned how that’s how European LDS weddings are. I went on my mission to Peru and it’s also how Peruvian weddings are. I think my non member dad would have been really happy if he’d been able to come to my wedding and I could have gotten sealed the same day, even! I don’t think it would have detracted from the sealing to allow my dad to see me get married.

  15. When I got married in the temple getting married outside the temple was an absolute badge of shame. Garments were all one piece that went all the way to the knee. Africans were considered unworthy to enter the temple and a woman’s access to God went through her husband. Funny how heavenly father keeps relaxing his everlasting rules for properly existing here on planet earth. Seems like he doesn’t really know what’s going on down here.

  16. How sad that so many of your family have fallen away that is unfortunate. What makes it even worse is to read in your blog that you yourself state that even you might not be temple worthy or a member in the future. Why? Why have you let such bitter and negative ideas guide you? What a shame to teach your daughters a gospel that you are creating, and not what the Savior would teach them to do. What a shame that you perceive the temple words, ordinance and covenants as something that makes women lesser or non-equal. That is not true and it only reflects upon the bias that you have created following your pride and feministic ideas. God indeed sees men and women as equals. How sad it will be, when your daughters take this erroneous and misinformed idea of the temple / ordinance and choose to marry outside the temple, and eventually see their testimony’s go the way as you and others in your family. Drop the pride and be a real woman of God.

    • Wow, you make quite a few assumptions about my spiritual life and the spiritual life of my family members. I’m not going to argue with you point by point, because I can see that we have very different perspectives on this topic. I will challenge you to think about the possibility that someone can be a “real women of God” and not have a great relationship with the temple. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  17. I completely agree with everything you said. My dad wasn’t able to attend my wedding in the temple and I have always felt guilty about that. The only member of my family that attended my wedding was my mom. Everybody else was either younger siblings or inactive. By contrast, my husband‘s entire family attended the temple ceremony, and it was a wonderful thing in their eyes. It has always felt different in my eyes and I have always felt bad about it.

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