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SALT LAKE CITY − Civilly married Latter day Saint couples will no longer have to wait a year after marriage to be sealed in an Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints temple.

“The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday that a civil marriage between a man and a woman will no longer necessitate waiting a year for that couple to be married (or sealed) in a temple,” according the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom. “The change means Latter-day Saint couples can look forward to a temple marriage as soon as their circumstances permit.”

According to the Newsroom, this will be the new standard for Latter-day Saint couples around the world. This has already been the norm in more than half the countries with Latter-day Saints. In those countries where the practice has already taken hold, the reasoning is due to local laws that demand civil marriage first.

“Where possible, leaders should encourage couples to be both married and sealed in the temple,” says a First Presidency letter to Church leaders around the world. “Where a licensed marriage is not permitted in the temple, or when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded, a civil ceremony followed by a temple sealing is authorized.”

The First Presidency also stated, “This change in policy should not be interpreted as lessening the emphasis on the temple sealing. The sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience on the covenant path.” 

Irene Caso, spokeswoman for the church and native of Madrid Spain, said she was excited about the change and shared her own story about marriage in the Church.

“In 2005, my husband and I were married. We had a beautiful civil ceremony on the afternoon of December 15 at a city hall. Later that day, in a more private setting, we were sealed in the Madrid Spain Temple. After going to the temple, we all celebrated with music and dance. Most of my immediate family and friends are not members of our faith, so it was especially meaningful for us to have them witness our civil union and help them feel included in the festivities of the day. These changes announced today will bring the same happy and memorable experience to many families throughout the Church.”

According to the Newsroom, the Church has asked that couples hold their weddings at Church associated buildings and that they keep the sealing at a temple the main focus of their marriage ceremony.

According to the Newsroom, those who are newly baptized will still need to wait a year from the date of their confirmation before being married in a temple. This is due to the church’s policy that gives converts time to better understand the meaning and significance of the temple and the sealing ceremony.

“During that year, new members are encouraged to obtain a limited-use temple recommend that allows them to serve in a temple baptistry,” according to the Newsroom. “The Church also encourages new members to learn about their ancestors and gather their names for temple service.”