Bishops Performing Civil Weddings

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My son and his fiance are flying back home to SLC tonight after a quick four-day visit over the holiday weekend.

Although they are engaged, they have not yet come up with specific plans for the wedding. Neither is involved in the Church, so they certainly will not get married in a temple or by a Mormon bishop.

But the topic of Mormon bishops performing civil weddings came up, because they of course have many Mormon friends in Utah and they have witnessed several such weddings, including one just recently involving a good friend of theirs.

Suffice it to say their report of the wedding ceremony was not a positive one. They characterized it as basically 20 minutes of the bishop browbeating the couple for not getting married in the temple, stressing how the ceremony was for this mortality only for purposes of complying with state law, but would (so tragically! so unfortunately! O, what is to be done?) be dissolved in the hereafter. Apparently the bishop recited several variations on that theme before finally declaring them husband and wife. They were thoroughly disgusted with the bishop’s performance, and asked their friend why he had even bothered getting married by a bishop in the first place. He rolled his eyes, said he had the bishop do it to make his father happy, and the ordeal was over and he didn’t want to think about it anymore.

I personally do not have a lot of experience with bishops performing civil wedding ceremonies, but this kind of thing  from what I can gather is far more the rule than the exception.

Questions I have about this:

  • Are bishops trained to do this? Is there something about this in the Handbook? Or is it just happenstance that so many bishops feel the need to shame couples who do not get married in the temple?
  • Who are they trying to influence with these jeremiads? The couple itself? Do they imagine the couple rending their wedding clothes, calling off the wedding and scheduling a temple ceremony for one year hence? Has anyone ever seen such a thing happen?
  • Or do the bishops reason that the couple itself is too far gone and therefore make these speeches for the benefit of the young people in attendance to keep them from participating in the travesty that is a civil wedding?
  • Apart from familial pressures, why would a couple intentionally submit themselves to such a negative and judgmental wedding ceremony? As such bishops are at pains to observe, there is nothing special about being married by a Mormon bishop. He has no priesthood authority necessary to perform the ceremony; anyone authorized under the laws of the state could similarly perform the ceremony. Knowing that negative commentary on your relationship is highly likely, why would you ask a bishop to perform the marriage?
  • Mainly, I’m interested in hearing your personal experiences and stories on this subject.

(I will here happily concede that not all bishops do this, and many certainly have the capacity to officiate in a perfectly lovely way at a civil wedding ceremony. But I’ve also heard a lot of stories about bishops turning the ceremony into an opportunity to shame the participants for not being married in the temple; is this all a phantom rumor or does it really happen? And assuming it really happens, why do bishops do  this? What are they hoping to accomplish? Is this negative commentary on the civil wedding likely to have the desired effect? What is the desired effect?)

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    I’ve only attended a handful of civil ceremonies performed by Mormon bishops, and I don’t recall this problem surfacing (though I may have just forgotten, or wasn’t paying close attention). I DO recall very Mormon relatives analyzing the language of my sister’s civil ceremony after it was over many years ago, trying to find the nuggets of eternity-signaling in what was otherwise a sad imitation of the “real thing” (in their view). It was awkward, but amusing.

  2. Deborah Christensen says:

    Wow! I haven’t seen anything like you described in civil ceremonies performed by members of the church. But I have seen similar issues during temple sealing so…lecturing the participants who aren’t married or divorced. I know the handbook in the past had a script to follow, but it didn’t have any shaming or lecturing.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    If this is a rarity as opposed to a commonplace then establishing that is definitely on-topic for this post.

  4. My N=1 is that bishops have done a fine job and I’ve never had a bad experience though I am outside of the jello belt and have had a string of excellent bishops. Given that you’re asking a bishop to do something that anyone else (willing to sign up on the Internet) can do, I’m not sure what you expect. If you’re getting married in a civil ceremony and don’t want eternity mentioned either talk to the bishop in advance or get someone else. Doesn’t sound like that happened in your example and the dad probably asked the bishop to say something. While the bishops I know are all willing, I don’t know any who want to lead weddings and funerals or serve as shrinks and marriage counselors. I’m kind of over blaming bishops when we involve them in processes that they have no nor (should) claim any dominiom and are unhappy with the outcomes. If we’ve over relied on bishops that’s on us.

  5. I have seen one where the bishop was the bride’s father, and he browbeat the couple for not getting married in the temple. I was horrified, especially after I learned of the relationship (I was the plus one!).

    My sister was married by the SP, and as he knew my bro in law was Catholic, so he spent the entire (entire!) time talking about missionary work and the one true church. The Catholics in the crowd were rather upset.

    I was married by our bishop, and he kept it pretty simple. I think he talked about the temple but I kind of tuned him out – I had a handsome man I was busy looking at!

    One I didn’t see, but heard about later, the bishop spent the whole time talking about the temple, and the couple were like, have you met us?

    So, basically, leadership roulette.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    pbj, thanks for the experiences. Yes, leadership roulette is quite often the answer, isn’t it?

  7. My one experience was an in-costume, medieval themed wedding with an LDS groom and a raised-FLDS bride (with her polygamist family attending). Suffice it to say it could have gone weird or wrong in some many different ways, but the Bishop made some brief connection between Medieval piety and bringing our best to our marriages, or something. You can tell he was stretching but I think he was trying to be as benign as possible; I certainly didn’t envy his situation.

  8. First I’ve even heard of such a thing. Of course, I’ve lived in the “mission field” my entire life so my defined-by-anecdote view of Utah tells me, “of course this happens.” One of the problems with people in any situation/job/calling is that there are good ones and bad ones. You forget the good ones quickly but the bad ones live on and on and on as horrified participants retell the story again and again.

  9. The bishop made some reference to the temple when he married my brother and sister-in-law. It was brief, and not at all shaming. More like “today is good, and tomorrow can be even better.”

  10. I’ve seen a handful of friends and family civilly married by bishops. Nothing quite as bad as what you described coming from the bishop but my family members have been known to whisper to never married little me “the wedding was ‘nice’ but ….” just a little reminder of what’s expected. I’ve kind of gotten the impression (although it’s never been out rightly said) that well, at least they aren’t living in sin, although they probably sinned which is why they aren’t getting married in the temple.

    I’ve been more impressed by the Bishops who obviously know one or both of the couple. There seems to be a little more meaning in those ceremonies. They do always seem to be straight reading the vows though and I don’t know if that’s a required thing if a bishop is officiating or couples choice. Personally I’d prefer to write my own vows if I get married out of the temple because the vows I’ve heard seem so blah. But I think bishops do the best they can, obviously it’s not their ideal but most seem to have their hearts in the right place.

  11. I’ve been part of and witness to three Bishop done marriages, in and out of Utah, and none of them were like this. Roulette indeed.

  12. I would be appalled and distressed at a temple-related browbeating. I note that there may be some room for mixed responsibility. As a couple getting married or as a parent of someone getting married, I wouldn’t go forward without a detailed understanding of what will happen and what will be said. In some circumstances the tension may be between parents and the groom/bride, more than with the bishop.

    As for experience (not sure how to run the N= count):
    3 civil weddings I performed while serving as a bishop, with no reference to the temple at all. (It’s been quite a few years and a different Handbook, but I recall some instructions about phrases to use or to avoid, but no instruction about giving a sermon or even referencing the temple.)
    1 civil wedding of a child, performed by a long-time friend (of everyone in sight including me) who happened to be the local bishop at the time. No mention of temple.
    Several ring ceremonies “officiated” by a church leader, with correct and unambiguous mention of an earlier-in-the-day temple wedding/sealing, but done with some finesse in every case so that the later-in-the-day “celebration” of the marriage was not weighed down by a temple discussion, for the ins or the outs. (I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if church leaders are discouraged form being involved in this way. It falls in my “better not to ask” category.)

  13. My brothers were married by their bishops. I don’t recall anything like this shamming thing. When it happens it’s probably motivated by a misguided psychology. The handbook does leave room for a church officiator (limited to bishop, stake president, mission president, branch president, active duty LDS chaplain, provided law allows) to give remarks. “Before performing a civil marriage, a Church officer may counsel the couple on the sacred nature of the marriage covenant and may add other counsel as the Spirit directs.” The ceremony is fixed: “The officer should not deviate from the following ceremony.”

  14. The wording of the vows is word for word from Handbook 1. The sermon portion that precedes that is at the discretion of the bishop.

    I officiated at a half dozen ceremonies in the past few years as a bishop outside the Mormon corridor. Some in homes, some in the church, some at a professional wedding facility. I would give a copy of the vows to the couple beforehand and advise them to use another option if they wanted something different. Nobody turned me down.

    No browbeating or temple references, just honored to be a part of the celebration and give a slight LDS perspective since there were always those of other faiths in attendance.

  15. I disagree Kevin. I’ve witnessed many (7) different civil weddings by Bishops and I’ve never witnessed what you just described. Maybe it happens in other parts of North America but I’ve never seen it East, West, Midwest or South. Maybe Utah and Idaho? But no instruction is given other than what is written in the handbooks and there’s no browbeating in Handbook 1.

  16. My friend had a ring ceremony in a traditional venue after her temple wedding. She had to have a priesthood holder oversee the ceremony and give a short talk about the temple. It turned into a small Sunday school lesson and a firm reminder that her Catholic family couldn’t be there for the “real” wedding. I felt very uncomfortable on her parents’ behalf, two lovely people who were trying really hard to understand the choice their daughter made to be a part of this weird church.

    Later she tried to get a different bishop to allow her father to hold the microphone for her son’s blessing. It turned into another example of exactly how unwelcoming our leaders can be to non-member families.

  17. I’m aware of people being irritated with what they saw as excessive advice from the bishop but nothing like what you described here.

  18. Julia Busche says:

    My sister and Jewish fiancée were married more than 20 years ago by an LDS bishop and a Jewish Rabbi. It was a wonderfully positive inclusive ceremony that I will always treasure. Several years later my brother-in-law was baptized LDS by my husband and later sealed to my sister and their three children in the Oakland Temple for time and all eternity. His parents attended his baptism where his Jewish mother sang a solo! That bishop opened many hearts that day of the wedding.

  19. lastlemming says:

    I have not seen any browbeating during a civil ceremony (most bishops are probably relieved that a wedding is taking place at all), but I can second Marian’s comments about ring ceremonies.

  20. Two of the 3 civil weddings performed by a Bishop that I’ve seen focused their pre-vows remarks almost entirely on asap getting to the temple so their marriage wouldn’t end at death. Both times, the tone felt (to me) shame-based and inappropriate, and since those were my first two civil wedding experiences, I was so relieved when the Bishop who officiated at my sister’s ceremony focused instead on general advice for making their marriage a happy one–mentioning but not beating them over the heads with talk of the temple. Glad to hear that the non-shaming civil ceremonies might actually be far more common!

  21. I’ve attended and heard of sealings where the majority of the ceremomy was spent teaching about the patriarchal order, priesthood lineage, etc. Nothing about the couple or their love. This happened to my brother and sister-in-law, and she was not happy.
    And I have attended ring ceremonies where the officiant went out of their way to remind everyone in attendance that THE COUPLE WAS ALREADY MARRIED. Nothing to alienate the congregation, but just enough to sort of confuse them.

  22. I recently got married civilly. We had our bishop do it because my wife’s parents were pressuring us into it. It felt like a load of shit because her mother wasn’t going to like me no matter what. So we could have had anyone do it, but she was worried about what they would think. He did a decent job, and overall made the ceremony about us. But only because we made it super clear that he was not to deviate from our script. And we didn’t do it in a chapel so we were completely in control. He didn’t have to follow the LDS script. I would have rather had a friend or family member do it, but thought it was best to at least make the gesture.
    In a similar vein, my cousin had a ring ceremony after his temple marriage to his concert wife. The ring ceremony was super awkward and obviously her family didn’t know what to think about it. It was compounded by my uncle standing up and preaching to the assembled non members about why they weren’t allowed in the temple. It included gems like “only people who have truly accepted Christ and are clean and worthy are allowed in the temple.” I apologized so much to the wife’s dad after it was all said and done.
    (This is the same uncle who has tried to preach to all the non and Ex Mormons at family reunions.)

  23. I had 2 children who were married civilly by an LDS bishop. The bishop (same bishop both times) told us ahead of time there is a certain short script he has to include. I don’t recall it specifically but it wasn’t offensive as I recall. Probably just something to the effect of “til death do you part.” The bishop was kind and respectful, no lecture, no shaming or anything of that sort. The ceremonies included both couples reciting vows to each other they had written. Without a doubt both those weddings were more touching, more heartfelt, more personal, more special than any LDS Temple wedding I’ve attended (including my own and those of my other children)–and other LDS members attending the wedding said as much. I think temple sealings should be separated from weddings. Couples should get married in civil ceremonies and then sealed later in the Temple.

    For all the effort and emphasis we put into the missionary program it is amazing how clueless some LDS leaders are (and how poorly thought out some LDS policies are). What is to be gained by shaming, excluding or browbeating except horrifying non-members and alienating/shaming members?

  24. Want super awkward? I attended a civil wedding of a family member where everyone was LDS, but this was the bride’s second marriage and she was sealed to her first husband. The Bishop still went on about the importance temple marriage. It was unbelievably uncomfortable (It felt like the Bishop was rubbing it in that the groom couldn’t ever be sealed to her and any children they had were sealed to her and her first husband…). I kept hoping the Bishop just didn’t know the situation, but that seemed unlikely as he was Bishop of the ward the bride grew up in.

    Other than that, most of the civil ceremonies and ring ceremonies I’ve attended have just been lackluster. I’d never use a Bishop because I’d want my wedding day to be special and wonderful and meaningful. The canned LDS script (and vows), just don’t do that for me. I’ve loved my Catholic and Evangelical friends’ weddings.

  25. I think I’ve only seen a couple marriages performed by a bishop and they were both alrightish. Don’t remember any browbeating wrt the temple, though it was mentioned. OTOH, I’ve seen a few ring exchanges that we’re absolutely ghastly — very obviously afterthoughts merely for the appeasement of non-LDS relatives of a concert. They were so insulting, it would have been far better to forego them altogether.

    In the same vein, after attending the really lovely civil wedding of my little brother and his wife, done without any LDS trimmings (he’s a non-believer and she’s a non-member), it was interesting to hear more than a couple family members say something along the lines of, “Man, I wish more LDS weddings could be like THAT!” The whole day was thoroughly about the bride and groom and their relationship and all the people that loved them–really beautifully tailored to them.

  26. Temple weddings are stiff, awkward, and totally impersonal. I wish THAT experience weren’t seen as the be-all and end-all of marriage experiences.

  27. My wedding was co-officiated by my bishop and my husband’s rabbi. The bishop was perfect and talked about love, family, etc. If anything, the rabbi was the more inappropriate participant (very showy). However, I attended a wedding in Bogota officiated by a bishop who talked about the temple for an uncomfortable length of time.

  28. We were civilly married (fwiw, all marriage are civil- they must be to be legal) before being sealed a year later. Our bishop did a nice job, but I have been at civil mormon weddings like the one you described- uncomfortable and awkward. I think its lack of training and the Mormon echo chamber.

    NB: I’m ordained to perform civil marriage, if your kids need someone. :)

  29. I’ve only been to one or two civil weddings officiated by a Mormon bishop and they were, for the most part, lackluster. There was no brow-beating (thank goodness) but there also wasn’t much spark. I come from a family of pulpit-pounders and sermonizers, so being in attendance at a Mormon-standard wedding or funeral can be pretty disappointing. Frankly, Mormon leadership just needs some general sermon training because, dang, when we’re good we’re decent but when we’re bad we’re BAAAAD.

  30. A Bishop in the Northeast says:

    I’ve performed several civil weddings at this point. I hope there has been no brow beating on my part as most of the services have been for either inactive members or members returning to activity I try to focus on the blessings of marriage and make some mention that our Father in Heaven intends for our marriage to be eternal and that He provides a way for this to be done. There is certainly nothing in the handbook that requires anything more than this on my part. Per my recollection the handbook focuses mainly on the simplicity of the ceremony, not doing bridal marches and the like.

    I’ve found that most couples I’ve married are surprised, some for the better and some not by the simplicity and brevity of the service. I’ve tried to make it as sacred an experience as I can by memorizing the the proscribed ceremony, but even with my giving a talk it usually lasts 20-30 minutes, tops. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than an LDS civil marriage where the Bishop’s head is buried in the handbook whilst reading the ceremony.

  31. I wonder why the church requires such control over civil weddings. I can understand the proscribed language of the actual moment of marriage. But all the rest? Why does the church care if I have a wedding march or additional speakers, scripture readings, or musical numbers?

  32. I’ve only been to 2 non-temple Mormon weddings. The first was when I was pretty young. My dad was the Bishop and he officiated. I don’t remember anything, but it would have been out of character for my dad to shame the couple. The second was a few years ago for a college friend of my wife. There wasn’t any shaming. In fact, I think the bishop was deliberately trying to avoid saying much about the temple because they had been planning on a temple wedding but the groom was, at the last minute, unable to get a recommend. I got the sense that he felt like he had addressed the topic of the temple with them in private already and didn’t feel the need to embarrass them. They were sealed about a year later.

  33. so much for being pro-marriage/pro-family — you would think that if we really were pro-family, as we claim, we would celebrate such a wedding because it is a marriage forming a new family, and we claim to want people to get married. Do our erstwhile culture war allies among Evangelical Christians know that we despise normal, non-temple religious wedding ceremonies (i.e. *theirs*) so much?

  34. Mel Tungate says:

    No, they are not trained. There is little in the handbook, and nothing about browbeating the couple.

    I loved the job our Bishop did almost a half century ago. He was great – he had blessed me as a baby, and knew me well. His words to my bride ( in the other ward in the same building ) were gracious and kind. His words to me were that of a father ( he was my “church” dad, and was good friends with my parents ), and have stayed with me all of these years. Great experience.

  35. My husband is Greek Orthodox, and I’ve always been quite active in the LDS church. We were married about two years ago in a civil ceremony officiated by my brother, who is Mormon bishop. He had to get permission from Church HQ to do the ceremony, since neither of us was a member of his ward, but getting that permission was very straightforward.

    As the bride, I felt I had a lot of latitude to determine how the service would go. I think, to a Mormon, the service would have had a distinctly recognizable Mormon flavor (and that was exactly how I wanted it) – we opened with a prayer and included a hymn as a “special musical number” in the middle. I was very cognizant that our guests included a pretty wide variety of religious backgrounds, both in terms of religious identity and level of religiosity (and to the extent that you can have a “variety” between two people, that variety exists within our marriage as well), so I really tried to make the ceremony something that would feel comfortable for everyone. We included two readings by family members – one scripture from the Bible (NIV), and one reading from a more secular source. Then, after the special musical number, my brother gave a two-minute talk about the importance of marriage and families, followed by the ceremony with the wording proscribed in the Handbook. My brother asked if we wanted to look over his remarks ahead of time, and we said that wasn’t necessary, but we did look over the wording of the ceremony itself in advance. It has a phrase along the lines of “for the rest of your mortal lives.” My husband (fiancee at the time) thought that was a weird way to put it, and to me, it seemed intended to emphasize that this wasn’t “for time and all eternity,” but that was fine.

    I would not have handed over the planning if the entire service to my brother, and I don’t think he would have expected or necessarily even been comfortable with that. We talked a lot ahead of time to be clear about exactly what his role would be.

    We had the ceremony in a public park. There are more restrictions about what you can do if the ceremony is in the chapel at a church building (e.g. no photography, minimal decorations). I know of a few couples who wanted to use their church building for a wedding, but also wanted to be able to take pictures, so they had the ceremony in a room other than the chapel or in the church’s courtyard (the Los Angeles stake center and the Westwood building by the LA temple both have nice courtyards).

  36. Also, responding to the comment by Bishop in the Northeast – we did have a bridal procession at our wedding – that restriction is only for if the wedding is in the chapel. You can get around that by having the ceremony at a different venue or even in a different part of the church building (say, the cultural hall, or the Relief Society room).

  37. Sorry, I keep remembering more comments.

    On the couple that was the subject of the OP, depending on what state they’re getting married in, they have different options about who can marry them. Clergy can officiate in weddings in any state, and Mormon bishops qualify. So does anyone who gets an online ordination from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Universal Life Church (although in Texas, the law is written in a way that seems intended to preclude those types of on-line ordinations, even if you could make a good argument that they still meet the letter of the law). In Pennsylvania, you can legally self-officiate at your own wedding (it’s apparently a Quaker thing), so anyone can stand up with you and lead the vows – only the bride and groom need to sign the marriage license. In California, you can have any of your friends register as a “deputy for a day,” and they can officiate as a deputy county clerk. The restrictions on that program actually vary by county. San Francisco says their “deputies of a day” can’t use any religious language in the ceremony (which would have been a deal-breaker for me). But the county you get deputized in does not have to be the county where the officiant, bride, or groom live, or the ceremony is performed, so if you plan ahead, you have get your deputy for a day license from a less restrictive county.

    Ultimately, if you have access to a Mormon bishop that you like and trust, I tend to think that’s often the best option. Yes, there’s some leadership roulette, but you can figure out what you’re dealing with by having a 30-minute conversation with the guy several weeks in advance. I tend to think that, for the most part, bishops tend to be nice people who don’t want to ruin your wedding day, so good communication in advance can address most of the worst-case scenarios.

  38. Been to one civil marriage performed by a mormon bishop and a couple of ring ceremonies. The marriage was much better than the ring ceremonies. The last ring ceremony I attended, the bishop gave a SS lesson on the history of temples and told the GC story about the silverware and keeping it locked up to keep it special. Slightly awkward, definitely not celebratory or about the couple, and somewhat long and boring. I, too, echo the desire that mormon gatherings were more flavorful and celebratory.

  39. Kevin Barney says:

    Just wanted to pop in and thank everyone for participating. I’ve really loved hearing all of your experiences and stories. It sounds like “temple shaming,” while definitely a thing, is not nearly so pervasive as I had assumed, which I’m very grateful to learn. It sounds like if one is going to use an LDS bishop to officiate, it would be wise to sit down and have a discussion beforehand concerning the tenor of the remarks to be made preceding the ceremony.

    And I’m glad several mentioned the often extreme awkwardness of ring ceremonies, and the perceived need of the officiant to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that the wedding already happened and this ain’t it. I’ve witnessed those kinds of ceremonies as well.

    If you have more stories, please keep ’em coming…

  40. I’ve attended a handful of LDS bishop-officiated civil ceremonies, some nicer than others, but all, I think, had some commentary about the temple being the ultimate goal. Sometimes this is appropriate, and other times it’s insensitive–particularly when they couple *can’t* get married in the temple and there is little to no chance of them doing so in the future. The upsides of having your bishop perform your civil wedding seem to be a) the price ($0) and b) having some connection to your faith community, if that’s important to you. If it were me, I would prefer something outside the LDS church so that I could have more control over the ceremony. There are too many restrictive rules about using the chapel to make that option appealing. Whether I asked the bishop to perform the ceremony would depend entirely on who the bishop was.

    Of course, the temple marriage ceremony is nothing to write home about either. It can be a very meaningful experience, obviously, depending on individual circumstances, but it’s entirely out of the couple’s control. Obviously the ordinance itself is always the same, and there are no flowers, no music, etc., but the worst part is you have no idea if your sealer is going to say something good, harmless, or absolutely horrible. The worst LDS civil ceremonies I’ve seen are nothing compared to the worst temple sealings I’ve witnessed. The policy change I’d most like to see in my lifetime is the separation of the sealing ordinance and the wedding ceremony. But that’s another topic for another blog post.

  41. My son was married this fall. He asked the father, a bishop, to perform the ceremony. Because we do not live in the same stake, he could not perform the ceremony. That did not make sense to me. It turned out that a neighbor of the bride, who is a non-member provided the service as she was authorized be the state to do so. It was a beautiful event. My cousin was married years ago by a bishop who provided an interminable litany of how wrong it was for them to be married outside the temple. Later, my cousin’s husband became a bishop and I doubt he launched into the same oration. After I was civilly married a sacrament meeting speaker said that she and her husband had been to a civil wedding ceremony and a funeral in the previous week and it was hard for her to tell the difference. My visiting teacher was ready to strangle her. What kind of messages are we teaching?

  42. To clarify my previous comment- my son asked his beat friend’s father, who is a bishop to perform the ceremony.

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    Rebecca J., my first ever post in the Bloggernacle was on the subject of separating weddings from the temple sealing:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/harchive/2005/02/temple-marriage-policy/

  44. I have seen a couple wedding ceremonies performed by a bishop, one of them being my father and stepmother getting married. He was a really down to earth guy, and didn’t say anything uncomfortable. I remember it as a positive experience.

    I also am hoping for the policy change to separate the ceremony and sealing. It just seems so harsh to exclude close friends and family from such an important event just because of religious differences or lack of holding a temple reccommend. I’ll have to read the linked post above.

  45. Living in “the mission field”, I’ve attended many bishop-performed weddings of a member to nonmember, or perhaps members that aren’t fully active. I’ve not seen the shaming described in the OP, but it’s definitely common to have something that’s intended as hopeful come across as passive aggressive (to my ears, anyway). The common approach is one where the Bishop celebrates the wedding, but then throws in some comments about how much better it would be if it were a temple wedding, or something about wouldn’t it be great if this could be forever instead of death do part? These aren’t done in a malicious tone, and I’ve always detected sincerity in the comments, but it’s hard to not sound passive aggressive when you’re literally telling the people they picked the lesser option.

    I believe there’s zero room for mentioning temple, eternal marriage, etc., at a non-temple wedding. Heartfelt and good intentions can’t make up for how awful it sounds to those listening.

  46. It’s odd to me that a bishop would need permission from SLC to civilly marry someone who is not a member of their ward. Technically the bishop would be performing a legal function, not an ecclesiastical function, right? I’m curious what sorts of consequences a bishop could face for marrying a couple without permission from church HQ.

  47. “bishop would need permission from SLC” — It’s clearly outside the purview of a bishop, whose assignment is local. I imagine there’s a reluctance to have bishops become popular. Imagine a “traveling Mormon bishop for hire”! On the other hand, if (when) I had a chance to perform a wedding for a couple I knew (from my ward) but getting married in a different state, I would/did rationalize that the fact of the calling shouldn’t bar me from a joyous experience in the company of people I know and love (in my “not a bishop” persona if necessary). And I would expect the worst that might happen (on a one-off) would be the stake president saying don’t do it again.
    But that’s just me.

  48. The only bishop-performed wedding I’ve been to did not involve temple shaming as far as I can remember, but at that age I may not have noticed. I have seen temple shaming in other contexts, including youth programs, where children of not-sealed parents were made to feel like they didn’t have a “real” family.

    But I would say that of the weddings I have been to, the civil weddings were generally more celebratory, more family oriented, and more fun.

  49. “When you have your REAL wedding…”
    I’ll never forget the Bishop who married us who kept referring to “your real wedding” , a temple wedding in a year, when we’re worthy & pay our tithing. I kept thinking, dude, this is my REAL wedding, I’m all decked out in wedding gear, we’ve planned this thing forever! This is a REAL wedding to me!
    And the bishops words caught on with some in our family, who ask us way too much when our REAL (temple) wedding will be.
    No, we did not go to the temple in a year. I’ve been happily married for 6 years! It’s a real marriage, I assure you.

  50. I recently served as a branch president of a Spanish-speaking unit in the northeastern U.S. and performed two wedding ceremonies prior to the couples’ baptisms. The Church Handbook has very specific instructions about the ceremony. Like everything else done in the Church, the ceremony should be reverant, respectful and uplifting to all who attend. Shaming has no place and I am apalled at the thought that such a thing could happen. Shame on anyone who would do such.