ABOUT WEDDINGS
On our most recent anniversary, Cathy suggested this hand photo. We are each wearing our "kelibet," which is the Ethiopian word for engagement. In Ethiopia, the first phase of the wedding is the kelibet ceremony where rings are exchanged. At this stage of proceedings, you are engaged to be married, but not actually married yet. Since we got engaged in Ethiopia, we bought rings and began to wear them immediately. These rings were not expensive, but the memories they evoke are dear to us, so we only wear these rings on special occasions. We have other wedding rings that we wear at other times to remind us of the covenant we have made to each other.
Thankfully, my sealing clearance went through the first presidency quickly. Even so, we only had a month before our intended wedding date to plan the wedding. I think it took us approximately two hours of discussion.
We decided on the Provo City Center Temple because it is near my hometown, it is splendidly elegant and, most important, its history represents how lives can be burned to the ground and rise again with a higher and holier purpose, and even more beautiful than before. At the wedding we enjoyed the presence of loved ones on both sides of the veil. My oldest son was my escort.
Instead of wearing a wedding dress, Cathy chose to wear her temple dress. Coming out of the Temple, she wore a beautiful Ethiopian celebratory dress that we bought on our engagement trip. We had our couples pictures taken the day before on the temple grounds because rain was forecast for our wedding day. But we had a great little window of time right after we came out of the Temple to take some great group pictures. We splurged a little bit on the photographer. He gave us a great deal, and he was very experienced and affordably priced.
After the wedding, we had a lunch of all you can eat fajitas at Los Hermanos, which our guests loved -- and it was a third of the price of catering a brunch at the nearby Marriott. Something fun and festive was more our personality anyway.
The next day, we had an open house and many of our friends and relatives came to congratulate us. We planned it for the next evening partly because we had both been through weddings where all of the festivities were on one day, and it was hectic, running from one thing to the next all day. Planning it as we did, we were done with our wedding luncheon by mid-afternoon. We got to spend a lot of time relaxing together in our hotel room and having a quiet, private dinner together at Market Street Grill.
For our open house, Daniel Coburn made wings for our guests as a wedding present to us. We had other trays of meat and cheese, vegetables, and other food that we bought and friends put together. Instead of wedding cake, we served cake bites from Sweet Tooth Fairy. We served each other bites of a giant wedding cupcake. Throughout the evening, a mix of our favorite love songs was playing on the stereo.
We had circles of chairs set up in a few places in the house, so groups of friends or family could sit down together and talk. The whole mood of the evening was festive and happy.
I don't say this to either boast or sound cheap, but we did the wedding for around $1000, including dress, rings, and everything. (A client of mine who owned a hotel donated his presidential suite for the night -- so that was a nice freebie that we very much appreciated.) We splurged for lunch for our sealing ceremony guests and the photographer, but all in all did our wedding inexpensively and with almost zero stress. And guess what! It was amazing! We just got to relax and enjoy our day (and the next evening) together with loved ones.
I remember my first wedding, which was a financial stress for my parents and my former wife's -- not to mention that my former wife had all kinds of dreams about her wedding day that would have cost millions of dollars to fulfill. No matter what we did, it seemed like we were disappointing someone. It was stressful, and the focus really was not on the sacred moment in the temple -- which Cathy and I chose to focus our wedding on. (To my former wife's credit, when she remarried in a simple ceremony at the university library where her husband worked, she walked down the aisle to a favorite Beatles song. I respect the fact that she also learned valuable lessons from the stress of our first wedding -- and did something simpler and more reflective of their personality as a couple.)
I bring this up because many in our group will marry in their middle or mature years as we did, and I hope this perspective might help you to create great memories around your wedding, without breaking the bank, and without creating an undue amount of stress for yourselves. It won't be exactly like ours. It will be your own creation. It can reflect your personality, even if you don't choose to spend a lot of money or are unable to. The thing I do hope is that it will be centered on the covenants you are making, and that your guests will understand how important that is to you.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke about single adult members of the Church in April Conference:

"During this life, we sometimes wait upon the Lord. We may not yet be where we hope and wish to be in the future. A devout sister says, 'Waiting faithfully upon the Lord for His blessings is a holy position. It must not be met with pity, patronizing, or judgment but instead with sacred honor.' In the meantime, we live now, not waiting for life to begin.

Isaiah promises, 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint' (Isaiah 40:31)."

President M. Russell Ballard expanded on this theme of waiting on the Lord as follows:

"[T]he precise time and manner in which the blessings of exaltation are bestowed have not all been revealed, but they are nonetheless assured. President Dallin H. Oaks explained that some of the circumstances 'of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children.' That doesn’t mean that every blessing is deferred until the Millennium; some have already been received, and others will continue to be received until that day.

[W]aiting upon the Lord implies continued obedience and spiritual progress toward Him. Waiting upon the Lord does not imply biding one’s time. You should never feel like you are in a waiting room. Waiting upon the Lord implies action. I have learned over the years that our hope in Christ increases when we serve others. Serving as Jesus served, we naturally increase our hope in Him.

The personal growth one can achieve now while waiting upon the Lord and His promises is an invaluable, sacred element of His plan for each one of us. The contributions one can make now to help build up the Church on earth and to gather Israel are much needed. Marital status has nothing to do with one’s capacity to serve. The Lord honors those who serve and wait upon Him in patience and faith."

These are reassuring promises that the blessings of marriage and exaltation are assured, notwithstanding any pity, patronizing, or judgment you may receive because of your single status. Yet waiting is not simply biding our time in a “waiting room.” It implies action. Our mid-single years were a time of tremendous growth. We testify that your personal growth combined with acts of service will prepare you to be a better dating partner and a better spouse. Treasure this time for the gift that it is; focus on building yourself and the kingdom of God.

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