The Salt Lake Temple Sealing Rooms
The sealing rooms of the Salt Lake Temple are where marriage ceremonies are performed, which are the pinnacle of LDS temple worship. But rather than being married "till death do you part" or "for as long as you both shall live", a groom and a bride are set apart to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise for time and for all eternity in Jesus' name and by proper priesthood authority. This sealing extends to any children that will be born to the couple as well. If a couple adopts a child later on, then the whole family returns to the temple to be sealed to each other. One of the sweetest doctrines of the LDS Church is our belief that family ties and relationships live on and remain intact in heaven, rather than being severed at death.
When the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated in 1893, it contained 7 sealing rooms. There are three sealing rooms adjacent to the Celestial Room, including the sealing room pictured at the top of the page. Because of high demand for sealings at the Salt Lake Temple, an addition was built to the North face of the temple, in 1967. Granite from the original quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon was used so it would match the rest of the temple. This annex increased the number of sealing rooms to 14. This is the most sealing rooms in any temple, except for the Washington, DC Temple, which also has 14.
According to Judeo-Christian belief, the first marriage was between Adam and Eve and was performed by God, Himself, in the Garden of Eden. Since that marriage was performed before The Fall, Adam and Eve were immortal at the time. Eden was, in and of itself, a temple. So the very first marriage was an eternal temple marriage.
In Matthew 16:19, Jesus conferred priesthood authority to Peter that gave the apostle the power that "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." In LDS theology, we believe that in 1829, Peter, along with James and John, appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood to them by the laying on of hands. Later in 1836, Elijah appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland, Ohio Temple and bestowed the sealing authority to them which restored the keys to bind and seal on earth and in heaven. We believe the keys and authority of the sealing power are only held by the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Church President, or a counselor in the First Presidency designated by him, sets apart and authorizes a Melchizedek Priesthood holder by the laying on of hands to serve as a sealer in the temple. There are usually several sealers set apart for each temple.
The temple uses symbolism to teach and reinforce gospel principles. The symbols in the sealing room include the altar and the mirrors. The altar is a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ. So as a bride and groom kneel at the altar they are figuratively kneeling before Christ. Latter-day Saints believe the marriage covenant is between the husband, the wife and with God. Since the altar is a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ, all three participants in the covenant are figuratively represented in the ceremony. There are also facing mirrors on each side of the room so the couple can see themselves continue on through eternity.
At the beginning of the sealing ceremony, the sealer will usually give some remarks about the significance of the sealing and some tips for a happy marriage. Most sealers are older gentlemen so they've had plenty of years of experience and a lot of stories about what does and doesn't make a marriage work. After his remarks the bride and groom kneel at the altar while holding hands and facing each other—usually smiling ear to ear as well. The couple both wear white, which symbolizes purity and that both are equal before God. Their families and close friends who are able to attend the ceremony sit in the chairs behind them. While at the altar, the bride and groom make covenants to be faithful and true to each other and to be faithful to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and then the sealer will pronounce a blessing on the couple. If the couple has children that need to be sealed to them, they're brought in to the sealing room at this point. The children kneel, or are held if it's an infant, at the altar with their parents and the sealing is extended to the children. It's a very moving experience seeing a family together at the altar all dressed in white.
At the conclusion of the sealing ceremony, the couple kisses while still at the altar, and if it's a newlywed couple, then they stand and do the traditional ring exchange. The attendees then greet and congratulate the new family with lots of hugs and then exit to the temple grounds to wait for the couple to emerge for pictures. The groom then returns to the dressing room to change into his tuxedo or suit, and the bride returns to the bride's room so she can reset her hair and makeup, and the two go out and get pictures taken with their family and friends on the temple grounds.
Unfortunately, some marriages end in divorce, and some eternal marriages never make it that far. Currently the reported divorce rate among Latter-day Saints is around 26 percent. However, the divorce rate for temple marriages is reported to be around 9 percent. So when a couple is sealed in the temple they have a 91 percent chance at marital longevity and success—much better odds than winning a lottery.
The blessings associated with the sealing are predicated on the righteousness and faith of the couple. Any unrepentant mistreatment by either party will grieve the Holy Ghost and cause Him to not ratify the seal.
The corresponding blessings promised with keeping the covenants made in the sealing room are explained in Doctrine & Covenants 132:19.
"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them--Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths... it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever."
Because of Jesus Christ, families can be together forever. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." -- Mark 10:9