In recent years, hosting an LDS ring ceremony has increasingly popular for Latter-day Saint couples and their families. A ring ceremony is a public event where the bride and groom exchange rings. It is most typically done so non-member family and friends can help celebrate their marriage. Here are some basic guidelines when planning your LDS ring ceremony.
Official Church Statements
Since the final decisions about a ring ceremony are personal, the Church has provided limited official LDS ring ceremony guidelines. However, here’s what information is available. All couples should strive to follow the spirit and do what is best for them and their familes.
Couples may arrange with their bishops to hold a special meeting for relatives and friends who do not have recommends. This meeting provides an opportunity for those who cannot go to the temple to feel involved in the marriage and to learn something of the eternal nature of the marriage covenant. The meeting may include a prayer and special music, followed by the remarks of a priesthood leader. No ceremony should be performed, and no vows should be exchanged. – General Handbook of Instruction, 1989
I know you plan a reception following the marriage. It offers a delightful opportunity for relatives and friends to bring gifts and wish you well, but I hope you will again avoid temptation to go to extremes in following the world in showy pageantry. There is danger that the ostentatious display may detract from and overshadow the simple wedding. With your good judgment and clear thinking, I know you can graciously entertain your guests in a wholesome, friendly, and dignified reception without the excesses so often in evidence. – Spencer W. Kimball
Wedding rings are not part of the temple ceremony. The sanctity and impressiveness of the marriage ceremony should not be overshadowed by any other procedure. The placing of the wedding rings is appropriate immediately after the couple leave the altar. – New Era, 1987
Though the exchanging of rings is not part of the temple marriage ceremony, rings may appropriately be exchanged at the conclusion of the temple marriage ceremony in the room where that ceremony takes place. To avoid confusion with the marriage ceremony, it is not appropriate to exchange rings at any other time or place in the temple or on the temple grounds.
A couple may exchange rings in locations other than at the temple. The circumstances should be consistent with the dignity of their temple marriage. The exchange should not appear to replicate any part of the marriage ceremony. For instance, there should be no exchanging of vows on that occasion. – Church Bulletin, 1989
Try to Hold It Before the Sealing
As a general rule, it is encouraged to hold any outside ceremonies before the sealing. The sealing is meant to be the crowning ordinance and nothing should surpass it. However, modern wedding schedules often make this difficult. If you are unable to hold your LDS ring ceremony before your temple sealing, the best time is after the sealing and before the wedding reception. You may invite special friends and guests to a ring ceremony and luncheon or hold the ring ceremony half an hour before the reception.
Speak of Eternal Marriage
Many LDS couples have their bishop or another ecclesiastical leader officiate the ring ceremony. Before the exchanging of rings, consider having your bishop speak about eternal marriage and bear testimony of the temple. If applicable, a brief explanation of a temple sealing can be described.
No matter what is spoken, no part of the ring ceremony should replicate the sacred ordinance of the temple sealing.
Invite Close Non-Member Family Members to Speak
If time permits, invite close non-member family to say a few words on marriage or give brief toasts. A musical number, poetry, or other appropriate expressions of love may be shared.
Don’t Exchange Vows, But Do Exchange Loving Words
Since nothing should compare with the sacred covenants you make, it is generally considered inappropriate to exchange formal vows at a ring ceremony. However, exchanging loving words and hopes for your future is a sweet and personal way to involve the bride and groom more deeply in the ring ceremony as they exchange their rings. Consider using one of these prompts for the words you’ll exchange:
- This ring symbolizes my…
- As I give you this ring, I look back on…and look forward to…
- I give you this ring as a symbol of…
Ring ceremonies are most easily held at your reception location. If you are planning on having a reception somewhere other than your local LDS meetinghouse, consider asking about accommodations for a ring ceremony in a separate room or if decor can be easily changed over. Depending on how important a ring ceremony is to you and your family, you may wish to budget a little more for ring ceremony decor and set up.
The chapel is available for both civil marriages and ring ceremonies. However, because of the sacred nature of the chapel, wedding marches, certain types of music, photography, and other traditions are not appropriate. It is for this reason many choose to hold their ring ceremony in the cultural hall or Relief Society room instead.
Talk with your bishop about the specific guidelines on using your ward building.
Many couples may wish to incorporate other wedding traditions into their ceremony. This includes having the bride walk down an aisle with her father or family member, kissing at the end, lighting candles, or pouring sand. Generally, these traditions are appropriate so long as they do not take on the guise of a formal wedding vow or marriage. The couple should not be married or take the form of being married at their ring ceremony. Outside of this, one of the great joys of the ring ceremony is creating a personalized moment all of your friends and family can enjoy. Feel free to personalize it to you.
Talk With Your Bishop
Your bishop will be able to give specific counsel and direction on your circumstances. He’ll be able to discuss what ideas are appropriate, what sorts of ceremonies are appropriate in each room of your meeting house, and how to best invite the sacred spirit of the day into your ring ceremony.
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