Mormon Wedding Ceremonies
What are the customs of Mormon wedding ceremonies? Why do they do the things they do? What do you need to know about a Mormon wedding before you attend?
Before people can marry in the Mormon church, they first are required to be "endowed." This takes place sometime before the wedding. Most males first undergo the endowment when they turn 19. That's the age Mormon men are called to be missionaries of the church. But most females and the men who were not endowed at 19, are typically endowed immediately before the wedding. This is a private ceremony, and they are never witnessed by non-members of the Mormon church. During the endowment, the person's body is washed and anointed, he or she is given a new name, then receives special Mormon undergarments which are to be worn under the person's clothes.
When someone is married in the Mormon church, it is generally considered to be a "Temple marriage." This is a marriage which must take place in the Mormon temple, and is private only to members in good standing of the church. If the couple chooses not to administer a "temple marriage," then the marriage is considered "for time only," which is a wedding held in a chapel. This is a wedding ceremony that is between one Mormon and one non-Mormon, or between two members of the church who can't enter the temple yet. Non-Mormons are not permitted to enter the Temple during the wedding ceremony.
Mormons are never permitted to talk about temple wedding ceremonies, so not much is truly known about them outside the temple. There have been various accounts from those who have since left the church. One account in 1990, indicates that the temple wedding includes the re-enactment of several Bible stories. People in the temple re-enact the creation and the giving of laws from Jehovah to his people. The Mormon church did undergo a reformation of sorts around this time and the ceremonies very well may have changed. During the part of the wedding ceremony people known as sealing, the bride and groom learn a special handshake and sign, then meet and they hug through a veil. The exchange vows, after which time the groom lifts the bride's veil and they hug once again. According to a different source, the bride and groom kneel at an alter. They face each other and hold hands across the alter, then they kiss. After that they both look into mirrors that face each other so the image is reflected, for what seems like eternity. Mormon couples often leave the temple ceremony only to have another ceremony outside of the temple for people who weren't allowed into the temple ceremony. While some of this may seem strange, it is hardly more odd than many well-known traditions such as tossing the bride's garter or tying cans to the back of a car.