Mormon Wedding Etiquette

by Kay Ireland

Mormon brides are usually decked out in modern but modest dresses.

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Because of the way traditional ceremonies are held, Mormons -- members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- have weddings that differ slightly from the usual affairs you've been invited to. Whether you've been invited to a Mormon wedding or you're planning your own, knowing the typical etiquette for each portion of the proceedings can help you save face and better understand the reasons behind the rituals and traditions.

Invitations and Wording

Since Mormon weddings usually have two separate portions to the proceedings, the invitations may seem confusing. Usually, the first part of the invitation functions as an announcement of the couple, the parents and the location for the wedding. Then, you'll see information for a reception, but not the actual ceremony unless you're expressly invited. Often, the invitation to the ceremony comes as a separate enclosure card to select family members and friends. Check through the invite to see which portion you're invited to -- and, if you're planning your wedding, make sure you delineate carefully between the ceremony and the reception.

Ceremony

It's important to note that if the couple is being married in a Mormon temple, only endowed members holding a specific card, known as "temple recommend," will be allowed to attend. It's a small and extremely intimate ceremony with only the closest family members and friends, but that doesn't mean you're barred from the proceedings altogether. If you can't actually enter the temple for the ceremony, it's customary to wait outside the building to congratulate the couple when they emerge.

Reception

Since the actual ceremony is small, the receptions for Mormon weddings tend to be larger affairs. Depending on the region and the family, you might be invited to an open house-style reception or a dinner reception: Check the invitation. If the wording simply gives a time frame for the reception, it's an open house and you can go anywhere between those times. If the timing uses the word "sharp" to note the beginning of the reception, you'll need to be there on time and expect more formal proceedings.

Food and Drink

Don't expect an open bar at the reception -- Mormons don't drink alcohol. Instead, you'll probably be served punch or non-alcoholic champagne instead. If you're attending an open house, the food tends to be more along the lines of hors d'oeuvres and desserts, so don't come starving. More traditional receptions that have a formal start time are more likely to be meal-based receptions. Some Mormons choose to have three separate events for their big day: The ceremony, a separate luncheon for close friends and family members, and then an open reception for acquaintances and well-wishers, so plan accordingly.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.