One of the most awaited days of a person in his or her life is the day when he or she will get married and become tied to another person in the most meaningful way possible. A person’s wedding day is truly one of the most important in his or her life.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) believes that marriage is ordained of God. Mormons believe that marriage has been a law of the Gospel since the creation of Adam and Eve.
For Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons by friends of other faiths), a wedding should take place in a Mormon temple. Mormon temple marriage is very important because it is essential for the salvation of man, and because temple marriages can last for eternity. Latter-day Saints believe that Adam and Eve were married by God, and they had an eternal marriage.
However, there are two types of Mormon weddings: an official temple wedding or a standard church service. A temple wedding is always held within one of many Mormon temples, and is considered a marriage for all eternity (not just “until death do you part”). The devout strive for a Mormon wedding in a Mormon temple, which requires a high level of commitment to God and His commandments.
Only faithful, worthy members of the Mormon Church are allowed to attend a Mormon temple wedding. All the guests must have a temple recommend issued by their bishop to enter the temple, which means the ceremony will likely be smaller than it would be in a non-temple wedding (usually it’s just family and close friends). The temple president or a temple sealer (a clergy member with authority to officiate a wedding) will oversee. At least two witnesses are necessary.
A Non-Temple Wedding
A non-temple wedding is open to anyone—Mormons and non-Mormons alike. A temple recommend is not needed to be able to attend to it, and a local bishop at any Mormon church can officiate the wedding. If this route, a civil ceremony, is taken, the couple may be able to have a temple sealing later (after following Mormon precepts and waiting at least a year) to seal the marriage for eternity.
Commonly asked questions about temple marriage:
Who can attend the temple ceremony?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have a current temple recommend may be invited as guests to a sealing ceremony in the temple. A temple recommend is a small card that demonstrates the holder has interviewed with the appropriate priesthood leaders and has been found worthy to enter the House of the Lord (as Mormons believe temples to be). Wedding couples are asked to keep those guests to a relatively small number, primarily immediate family and a few close friends; this allows the service to remain reverent and sacred.
What can those who do not have a temple recommend do while the ceremony takes place?
Temples provide waiting rooms and some have visitors’ centers on site, which provide information about Jesus Christ, the Mormon Church, and the importance and sanctity of Mormon temple ceremonies. Also, the grounds of every temple are beautifully maintained and offer individuals a peaceful atmosphere for quiet contemplation.
How long does a temple sealing take?
Most do not take longer than thirty minutes. There will, however, be some variation, depending on factors including the number of people attending and the advice that the officiator gives. Also, in a spirit of reverence and preparation, it is expected that a wedding couple arrive at least 75 minutes prior to their ceremony time. The couple’s guests should arrive at least 30 minutes early. The ordinance of the sealing itself is actually quite short, though.
What should guests wear?
Those attending the temple sealing should wear clothes that would be appropriate for church, such as a modest dress or skirt and blouse for women, and a suit (not a tuxedo) or white shirt and slacks for men.
Can the bride wear her wedding dress in the temple?
Brides may wear their wedding dress in the temple (barring any veil or hat), but it must have long sleeves and a high neckline, and all sheer material must be lined. Also, the dress should have no train or at least have a way for the train to be bustled up. Some temples provide jackets that can be worn under or over a dress to make them appropriate for the ceremony. The availability of such a jacket may be checked when setting up a sealing appointment.
When are rings exchanged at a Mormon wedding?
An opportunity for exchanging rings is given immediately after the ceremony concludes in the sealing room; no other place or time on temple grounds is considered appropriate for this practice, and the exchanging of rings is not part of the ceremony. Couples are encouraged to not have ring-exchanging ceremonies after the temple ceremony, because they should recognize the importance of the sealing itself and that, that is where the important promises have been made.
Is photography permitted?
No recording or filming is allowed anywhere within a Mormon temple. Couples may have a brief, simple photography session outside the temple following their marriage, and of course many pictures are taken at the reception.
How do couples set the time and date to be married in a temple?
Couples should call the temple where they plan to be married well in advance to set up a time.
When should a couple make an appointment to get their temple recommends?
Couples should allow enough time in order to not feel rushed. Most take care of getting their recommends at least two weeks before the ceremony. It should be noted that Mormons have to have been members of the Church for at least one year before they can obtain a temple recommend. Also, when entering the temple for their own marriage or other ceremony, they not only need a regular recommend for temple admittance, but also a Recommend for Living Ordinances. Plus, they should not forget their valid state marriage license. A couple should talk to their bishop as soon as they get engaged to make sure they take care of all necessary arrangements well in advance.
In summary, indeed, choosing to be married and sealed in the temple of the Lord is the best choice one can ever make. A wedding is a special day. It is also a very holy and sacred day, because it should be a day of covenants and ordinances that are of eternal nature and consequence.
Gospel Principles, by Intellectual Reserve Inc., 1997, pages 241-246
“Chapter 38: Eternal Marriage,” Gospel Principles, (2009)
Information For Brides and Grooms Planning a Temple Marriage, by Jay M. Todd
“Lesson 33: Celestial Marriage—A Preparation for Eternity,” Aaronic Priesthood Manual 31995
Mormon Marriages around the World, by Elaine Cannon