New Marriage Policy of the Mormon Church Is Already Impacting Couples’ Wedding Plans

Kayla Bach and Dayne Bloxham are engaged to be married. Photo courtesy of Brandon Burk Photography

Kayla Bach is getting married in the Newport Beach, Calif., Latter-day Saint temple in little more than a week.

So when leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday (May 6) that the church was eliminating the yearlong waiting period between a civil marriage and a temple “sealing,” Bach thought it was an important, inclusive change for U.S. members in the global faith.

Initially, though, Bach — an undergraduate at Provo’s Brigham Young University — didn’t imagine it would apply to her.

Then her dad asked, “Why don’t you consider doing it?”

When Bach’s father joined the Utah-based faith several decades ago, none of his family could attend his temple wedding. It was painful and frustrating to him, creating feelings of family tension with his kin.

Adding a civil wedding meant that Bach’s non-LDS family members could attend.

So the bride-to-be thought, why not?

Bach discussed it with her fiance, Dayne Bloxham, a BYU graduate. And though his family could all be with them in the temple, he agreed.

They scrambled to add a civil wedding at a historic courthouse on the morning of May 17 before her afternoon temple wedding.

Relatives on her dad’s side stood outside the temple several decades ago and were willing to do it again for her, Bach said, “but including them in our wedding festivities will make it even more meaningful.”

Marrying in the “eyes of the law and the eyes of the church,” she said, will show that “we take both seriously.”

It’s too soon to know how many couples will follow Bach’s lead — though comments on social media indicate others are doing so — and the extent to which the policy change will impact Utah’s wedding industry.

Steve Williams, owner of the Eldredge Manor in Bountiful, predicts a clear shift in the Utah wedding landscape.

“It’s going to change our business somewhat dramatically,” he said, joking that “we are going to be setting up a lot more chairs.”

It will mean more physical work for Williams and his staff but not necessarily a lot of extra income. Still, he welcomes the change.

“So many families need this,” he said. “It will be really great for relations between LDS and non-LDS. It won’t be us versus them. It will bring people together.”

After 45 years in the wedding business, Williams has seen Latter-day Saint wedding traditions adapt to meet the times.

“Back in the ’70s, you really only saw LDS brides marry LDS grooms,” he said. “Today, it’s rare to see two fully involved LDS families marry each other. Either the bride’s side or the groom’s side is not part of the faith.”

It’s one reason, Williams noted, that in recent years “we have seen an increase in ring ceremonies” — not a formal wedding but an optional event where couples exchange rings and vows before all their invited loved ones outside temples.

If Latter-day Saint brides want to have a civil ceremony at a venue other than their local church meetinghouse — which would be free — they may have to learn to be more flexible on wedding dates.

“Brides from other faiths know they need to book at least six months to a year in advance,” he said. “Our (Latter-day Saint) culture does not have long engagements, so they’ve got be more flexible.”

Meagan Crafts Price, marketing director for Culinary Crafts Catering, believes Utah weddings will change gradually. “You won’t see it this summer, she said. “It will take five to 10 years” for a cultural shift to occur.

“You might even see a struggle,” she said, between young couples with more modern ideas and their more traditional Latter-day Saint parents.

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Source: Religion News Service