It was perfect.
The sun shone, babies laughed, pastries delighted and everyone danced well after the sun set.
In the morning, everyone gathered at the Salt Lake Temple.
The youngsters waited outside during the sealing, walking around Temple Square, playing with baby Grace…
Sealing rooms are small with an altar in the middle and large mirrors on opposite sides of the room. While many Mormons invite hundreds of guests to their reception, the sealing is reserved for closest friends and family who hold a temple recommend. So while it might sound cruel to leave siblings, friends and other relatives outside, they are certainly not alone.
Temple weddings have no music, no procession down the aisle, no flowers, no hand-written vows and absolutely no photos. All the attendees gather in the sealing room and wait for the bride and groom. Temple workers clad all in white usher everyone to their seats, bustle out into the hall to find a bench for extra guests and maintain quiet reverence with whispers and smiles. The two fathers sit on one side of the room while the mothers flank the newly weds in a love seat. There was a moment when a temple worker motioned to the seat next to me– the traditional seat where my mother would sit– and before she could even finish her sentence Stefan sidled down next to me. It was a sweet moment.
Ben and Sammie entered the room all love and happiness and laughter. Moments after they sat we could hear our sealer coming down the hallway. Someone asked him, “Why are you in such a rush?”
“I’m about to perform a sealing!” he answered, “It’s the happiest day! This is everything we teach about, everything we aim for.”
While every Mormon bishop can preside over a wedding, temple sealers are very rare. They are ordained by the prophet and hold the title of sealer for the rest of their lives. Ours gave beautiful, yet simple advice, to always serve each other, to hold hands, to pray together every night, to always seek the Savior. Marriage is a three way covenant between man, woman and God and he reminded them they could always turn to God for help.
After a bit of advice, he spoke the words of the marriage covenant (tidbit– in sealings we say “yes” not “I do.”)– and had Ben and Sammie stand and look at their reflection in the mirror. “If you look at yourself,” he said, “that’s all you see. But if you look at your spouse, you’ll see the two of you going on forever and ever.”
After the ceremony we all came outside to wait while Ben and Sammie changed. For the temple sealing they wore ceremonial temple clothes, but changed into traditional wedding attire for the exit. There’s no big moment in Mormon weddings when the groom sees the bride in her dress– except in the basement of the temple right before they step outside. That’s why I always encourage couples to take formals a week or so ahead of time when they can choose the best weather, lighting and take away some of the rush of the actual wedding day.
And a huge cheer when they finally emerged!
The best videographer in town.
Since we had a wedding dinner the night before, we gathered just our two families for a lunch after the temple. It was the perfect, quiet break from all the excitement. We sat in a beautiful room, let someone else fill our glasses and just savored the beauty of the day. We tried to recall Elder Uchtdorf’s every word and gesture during the sealing for the younger kids; and we laughed for joy– Ben and Sammie are married! We are all family!
It was good we enjoyed a respite, because we raced off to pull together the final details of the reception. Picking up flowers, arranging photos and pastries, making flower crowns, tying bows…
We were blessed with the most magical venue– the Garff’s gorgeous, magical yard. Less than a block from our home, the location made it easy for everyone to attend. And since the Garffs happen to be the kindest, most gracious people on the planet, they made us feel like we were doing them a favor.
Our dear friend Jennifer Schiel created this flower wreath which quickly became the unofficial photo booth of the wedding (I spotted fifty-plus facebook posts with this wreath the next day).
The Drysdales designed, cut, painted and lettered these beautiful signs, and sewed the fabric pennant bunting…
and found these post boxes and pens, paper and stamps so wedding guests could write to our far-away sons and brothers (Sammie’s brother Xander is serving a mission in Peru).
Between Erik and Xander stands Will, our beloved next-door neighbor and honorary 6th son– he’s also the younger brother of our videographer.
Everyone asks how I handled the photography– I needed to be in some photos and enjoy the day, yet, it’s cruel to completely take my camera out of my hands. I hired two friends for photos– Lisa Garlick at Temple Square and Maggie Broadbent (just 16, but incredibly skilled and talented) at the reception. We also hired our genius next door neighbor Ezra to shoot video. Everyone seems to think I’d be extra picky about photos but because I’ve been part of so many weddings I know it’s impossible to photograph everything in the chaos of the day. I trust their skills and each of their unique talents and I knew I’d love whatever they captured. This post contains a mix of mine and Maggie’s photos. I’ll feature Lisa’s photos and Ezra’s amazing video in another post. I know Maggie took this photo, because it’s all I saw of the amazing pastries. Far before we were actually ready, guests began arriving and I was caught up in the general joy of hugging, exclaiming, welcoming and thanking.
If you’d seen Sammie and her dad dance to “My Girl” you’d think they spent weeks practicing and choreographing each step. We all thought their dance was the sweetest thing we’d ever seen until Ben raced out onto the floor for their first dance and swung Sammie through the air with joy.
The traditional Norwegian wedding cake says the amount of rings the bride breaks off the cake represents how many children the couple will have— 24!
And then there was dancing… dancing, dancing, dancing.
My adorable niece Kristan caught the bouquet.
I’ve had a hundred queries about Sammie’s stunning dress– it’s blouse she simply had in her closet (you can actually spy it in some of the engagement photos) and a skirt she bought online.
And really, you just can’t beat the sparkler send off (wait till you see this on video!).
Even after the couple left, people lingered and talked and helped pull tablecloths, fold chairs, flatten lanterns and take down lights and bunting.
And there’s the beauty of big, home-grown wedding– friends and neighbors gathering to help and participate and offer support. As Sammie says, “In the midst of all the wedding prep, every couple decides eloping sounds like a great idea. But gathering all these people together who’ve love you and care about you lends power to a marriage. I know there will be hard times, but we know we have hundreds of people cheering us on, invested in our happiness and our success. And starting the first day of marriage celebrating with all those people we love is a gift to all of us.”
Yeah, Sammie’s pretty awesome.
All I can say is ‘thank you.’ Thank you, thank you to everyone– near and far– who offered, and continue to offer love and support, artistic talents and good old elbow grease. We know you’re cheering for our happiness; please know we’re cheering for you too.