So now it's up to you. Do you even WANT to hold a ring ceremony at your mixed wedding? How much work is that going to be? Where do you even START?! Here are three tips that I learned while putting my own ring ceremony together that may help.
1. You don't do vows.
When you're sealed to your companion for time and all eternity in the temple, you make special, binding covenants. Those covenants are divine, they are inspired, and they are eternal. So it would be silly for you and your sweetheart to try to do your own later! If you're like me and grew up in a religious family, however, you've been thinking about what your vows would be for years. And even if you haven't been thinking about it too long, you've seen the movies where a couple shares their vows and they're so heartfelt and sweet-- it makes sense for you to want that! But you'll be promising something so much more beautiful in the temple than a few words scribbled on a piece of paper.
So what do you do to fill the time?
It seemed way too short and too impersonal for us not to say anything, and I knew our friends and family would be disappointed not to hear how much we loved each other-- your family is probably the same way, too! So after a lot of prayer and reflection and running around asking everyone we could think of, we decided that we would talk about why we chose the temple. Of course it was intermingled with fond memories we had of one another as we addressed the gathering, but we also emphasized how much we wanted to have a family that could be together forever. We emphasized how much we loved Heavenly Father and how we knew that the temple was something he wanted us to commit to. We emphasized how much we both loved the temple and would strengthen our marriage by attending regularly. Of course we didn't say all of that during the ceremony. If we had really talked about why we loved the temple so much, our ring ceremony would have been longer than a traditional 2 hour Catholic wedding. But mainly through our ring ceremony we were able to do our first missionary work together as husband and wife as we shared our testimony of the Lord's Holy House.
2.Find someone who has your same interests to officiate the ceremony.
So technically you can get any leader in the church to officiate your wedding. This could be your bishop, your stake president-- any worthy priesthood leader with the necessary keys to officiate a ring ceremony. However, take into careful consideration who you choose to officiate at your ring ceremony. Look for someone who has done it in the past, who enjoys doing ring ceremonies, and who understands the situation. I think one of the best places to look is your local LDS institute. My husband and I asked an institute teacher who
- Taught a marriage and family class
- Knew my husband and I very well and who understood the situation
- Had officiated ring ceremonies dozens of times all over the country and enjoyed it
3. Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons
I had always imagined myself getting married in a huge gothic cathedral with every person I'd ever encountered since diapers. I wanted a grand ceremony with a miles-long veil trailing down the aisle and flowers absolutely EVERYWHERE. Instead, I was sealed to my sweetheart in the temple with fewer than 25 witnesses and about 40 of our closest friends and family at our ring ceremony-- and it was just as spectacular.
]As we were planning the wedding and I was trying to figure out how a ring ceremony worked, I'd find myself wanting more and more elaborate things. I had to catch myself constantly, thinking to myself "Am I still doing this for my family, or am I doing this for me now?" I had the immense blessing of having a temple sealing as an option, and the ring ceremony was supposed to be for my family so that they could participate more.
If you find you're doing a ring ceremony for "Hollywood-reasons" take a big step back and reevaluate. Scale down and if absolutely necessary, cancel it all together. You should never sacrifice the temple for a ring ceremony, and if you're more focussed on when to release the six dozen doves afterwards than preparing for the temple, you need to reevaluate your priorities.
4. Practice Christlike attributes. ALWAYS.
I insisted on calling it a ring ceremony, and that's what it said on the invitation. That's what the few articles I could find online called it. I didn't want anyone mistaking our ring ceremony with our temple sealing in importance. But my mother, bless her heart, kept calling it a wedding. And it totally drove me up the wall.
You're going to be learning a lot about practicing empathy while navigating this time with your family. And this was the big one for me. I kept asking her over and over and over again to stop calling it a wedding and to call it a ring ceremony, but she just wouldn't stop. She was just as stubborn as me about the name! It wasn't until one bridezilla-moment when I had just about had enough that it finally dawned on me. My mother didn't want to feel like "her" ceremony was second rate just as much as I didn't want our sealing to be second rate.
And neither of us were wrong.
My mom-- and plenty of my other dear family members-- couldn't come to my sealing and that hurt them. They understood it meant a lot to me, but they still felt excluded. The purpose of the ring ceremony was to let them be present as I committed my life to another person-- what they'd call a wedding. And I was so caught up in making sure I was following my preconceived checklist of dos and don'ts, that I forgot to practice one of the most Christlike attributes-- empathy.
Preparing our ring ceremony was rather stressful, but it helped me understand my family's feelings better than any other experience. A ring ceremony certainly isn't for everyone, but as you ponder and pray with your future eternal companion, you can come to the right conclusion. And if that does mean you'll be holding a ring ceremony, then just you wait for all the blessings to start flooding in.