Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why aren't there groom's rooms in temples?

One thing that I find odd is that there are Bride's rooms in LDS temples but no groom's rooms.  I think the lack of groom's rooms is a missed opportunity and sends architecturally mixed signals.  Here are a few of the functions of Bride's rooms and why I think groom's rooms are also needed. 

The main function of Bride's rooms are to be a place where the bride can get dressed for the sealing and then afterwards change into her often more elaborate wedding dress for photos on the temple grounds.  The room gives more space than a normal locker so brides can more easily change into larger dresses and so they can do their hair, etc., sometimes with help.  Grooms wouldn't need quite as much space, but tuxedos are a bit difficult to put on in a cramped locker and so grooms could certainly use more room.

Bride's rooms are also elaborate rooms with chandeliers, art, sculpted carpets, etc.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that it provides an appropriate setting to change into the temple clothes that she will be sealed in.  Grooms have to change into similar temple clothes for their sealing and so they should similarly have a special room for changing on this most special day.

Bride's rooms also display art chosen to ennoble the bride and inspire her to live righteously and realize her incredible worth as a daughter of God and as a wife.  Often a picture of Queen Esther from the Bible hangs in the room, reminding women that they have great influence for good in marriage and that there are great examples of women in the scriptures.  I think grooms could use similar art so that as they prepare on the day of their sealing they too can think about how to properly treat their wife and future family and to honor their priesthood.  I think this would help set the tone for the sealing the groom is also about to participate in.

Bride's rooms provide a quieter, separate space to prepare for a sealing.  Surely grooms could use this as well.

I have heard that Bride's rooms are there because a wedding day is "her day".  While it is true that in American culture women seem to obsess a lot more about their wedding day with colors, cake flavors and reception details planned years in advance, it really isn't just her day.  It is the couple's day.  Both could use special rooms to change in as is commonly the case in reception centers.

I have also heard that we have Bride's rooms out of respect to women.  I've never really bought this argument.  Having respect for women doesn't mean we have to have disregard for men.  I am personally fine with groom's rooms being less elaborate than Bride's rooms, but I think they should still exist.  A similar situation exists in our church architecture.  There the Relief Society room used by the women is usually the nicest room in the building (with the possible exception of the chapel) while the priesthood rooms are usually in an overflow or spare classroom somewhere.  This sends the architectural signal that women and the Relief Society are really important but that the priesthood can go anywhere and isn't really that important (which is odd given the doctrinal importance of the priesthood).  This wasn't always the case.  If you look at old churches (built 50 years or more ago) they almost always have an Aaronic Priesthood Room and an Elder's Quorum or Melchizedek Priesthood Room (often wings) in addition to Relief Society rooms.  So in the past in churches our architecture was more consistent with our doctrine. 

This is a bit off topic, but we make the same mistake in our chapels where we tell everyone that the sacrament is the most important part and the focus of sacrament meeting and then place the sacrament table on one side of the room where it isn't the focus and instead have the pulpit and the talks as the focal point.  If you go back 50+ years sacrament tables used to be in front of the pulpits in the center or the sacrament tables were in the center of the stand with the pulpit off to one side.  This made the architecture consistent with the doctrine, not in conflict with it.

Let's get back to my real topic, my confusion about why we don't have groom's rooms in temples.

We hear so many talks telling men to take marriage seriously or lamenting that men are neglecting family duties, and yet on the very day that they are married, sealed for eternity, and form a family we miss the opportunity to architecturally tell them that it is more important than other days and to emphasize the importance of marriage and family.  Instead, the typical lockers will do.  Architecturally we are saying that women need to value marriage and family and should be overjoyed at the marriage, but the architecture is silent when it comes to men.  I know that this isn't what is taught, but the presence of an elaborate bride's room with instructive art and the lack of a groom's room doesn't architecturally show heightened importance for men in marriage.  We have an opportunity to set the tone for the sealing.  We have a chance to instruct the groom  on the importance of marriage, family, and his duties as a husband and father.  We can help him take his marriage seriously.  By not including groom's rooms we are being less effective in these areas.  If we are seriously concerned about men not living up to their marriage and family responsibilities, adding grooms rooms is one way we could help them (even if it is fairly minor).

I propose that we should start including groom's rooms in temples.  These don't need to be as elaborate as bride's rooms, but stained glass and nice carpets would be appropriate.  Room to comfortably change into temple clothes and later formal attire such as tuxedos would be nice.  Finally, good paintings and other art that is particularly suited to grooms and their responsibilities to their wife, future family, etc. should be in the groom's rooms to help set the tone and prepare the groom for the sealing ceremony.  When a groom goes into the groom's room he should feel like his wedding day is extra special.  He should realize that to the very core the day is special because of the importance of the sealing ordinance in God's plan.  He should feel a need to make this day special for his bride and his future family.  Grooms rooms would aid in this goal.

Let me know what you think about this. To be clear, I find it confusing that we don't have groom's rooms and I find it to be a missed opportunity, yet they aren't a necessary part of the temple.  The temple is still God's house without them, I just think it would be better with them.

23 comments:

The Tolmans said...

I know of may wards were the priesthood meets in the high councl room. Which is a nice room. I know not all ward buildings have high councl rooms but I think where it is available they try to put the priesthood in a better room then the stage. I also agree Witt he groom room because on my wedding day I was miss placed by the temple staff and our wedding ended up being very late. Just as the brides wait in there room for the sealing it would be a good place to keep the groom so they where not miss places by well meaning temple workers.

Agreed said...

I absolutely agree. This church preaches one thing and does another. We men are supposed to be at least equal to our wives, but in truth we're just baggage for her pleasure. Especially here in Utah.

Anonymous said...

I think there are two reasons:
1) We're compensating for the fact that women don't hold the priesthood. There hasn't been a clear doctrinal exposition of precisely why this is (I believe there ARE good doctrinal reasons, but they haven't been clearly declared), so instead we rely on folkloric explanations (e.g., "women are inherently more spiritual') and overcompensation (e.g., effusive GC talks; brides' rooms).
2) Women tend to put a lot more effort into their physical appearance for special events than men do, and the discrepancy is probably greatest for weddings. Makeup, hair, nails, bewilderingly complicated dresses with pleatings and laces and sashes...It just takes more effort. Guys throw on a tux or a suit with a vest. If there were a separate room, it could be much smaller.

Chad said...

Interesting post. I've always loved seeing photos of the bride's rooms, especially because the new temples have beautiful carpets and almost always have the painting of Queen Esther.

I've never thought it was doctrinally inconsistent. The women do need a lot more room to get ready and typically family and friends are there to help with hair and everything. (Many brides dread leaving the temple because the next step is the honeymoon which freaks some out.)

There are parts of the temple that have no meaning and are simple courtesies, this is one of them and I think it's perfectly fine.

surakmn said...

Sorry but it strikes me as like asking why men don't typically wear stilettos. I never missed a grooms' room, and don't particularly know why I'd want one.

Brian said...

I have always seen the bride's rooms as practical - the woman who does not arrive in her wedding gown needs plenty of room to get dressed, then needs room and resources for hair, makeup, and anything else she can fret over.

That being said, I do wish there was SOMEWHERE for the groom to comfortably wait. When I was married, they would not even let us past the recommend desk until we were together - so much for not seeing her before the ceremony. Then, after dressing, I had to wait in front of the sealing office until she was ready.

Now that I think about it, I clearly recall deciding that if death or divorce ever provided me the opportunity to be married again, I would go to the London temple so I could have a nice and romantic wedding and then go to the temple. I could then also have my non-LDS relatives at my wedding, turning what I found to be a somewhat unpleasant experience into a happier and fully inclusive experience - at least for those who could afford the trip. Please note: there was nothing unpleasant about the ceremony; the unpleasantness was from staff treating it like an assembly line instead of making the process from entry to exit something special.

Anonymous said...

Although now used after the Temple ceremony, the Bride's Room was typically considered a symbol for preparation for the wife to offer herself to her husband. The room is not so different than middle-eastern room palaces typically reserved for the woman to make the noblest of preparations prior to entering her husnand's presence.

It has a function similar. But I do agree, although am not one to complain as to the Church's decisions on trivial matters. The Lord is at the healm and really until their wedding, women sit as relatively underwhelmed and underused in the Church. This is the time they enter into the fullness of the Lord's Covenant blessings.

If you know anything about the blessings bestowed on women in the initiatory ordinance, it makes a lot of sense especially when compared to the men's (and yes the difference is significant). However, it is not advised to share those differences openly with one another, but if by chance you know about it, the symbolism is opened up a great deal.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the post. I often read this blog and comment from time to time, and this post is severely off-base from the others that I have read. This post has the feel of jealous complaining, ineffectively masked by reference toward ward buildings. Some of the comments seem to follow this tone as well. I certainly don't look back at my wedding day lamenting the fact that I got dressed in a locker, and to set the record straight, the brides don't dress in the bride’s room, or at least they should not be dressing in the bride’s room. They dress, or should dress, in oversized locker stalls adjacent to the bride’s room. They use the bride’s room to make sure that their hair is done right and their makeup is just right and so on. Also, I didn’t require anyone else’s help to put my tux on or do my hair; this is not the case with brides. This petty attitude of, why are men treated differently, is simply abhorrent. Maybe instead of focusing on the reason why the temple doesn’t have a groom's room, you should focus on the reasons why we go to the temple. Also, speculating that the reason why there is a bride's room, coming from another comment, is because we are making up for the fact that women don't hold the priesthood is sad to read at best. The commentator is obviously under-educated in the eternal role of women. To avoid going on too long and getting on my own soapbox, I'll just say, this post was very disappointing and inconsistent with tone of this blog, and the only things worse than the post were the comments.

I have left this comment anonymously, as I always do when I comment, not out of cowardice or any fear of recourse, but because my chosen career path puts me In a unique position where it would Just not be appropriate to comment under my actual identity.

J. Brian said...

LOL, anonymous has chosen to become a General Authority. Shhh.

Anonymous said...

I have read all these entries with interest. Even the snobbish prig sounding one. While I agree it is a nice thing for the bride to have a place to spruce up, I am also one of many men who was told on his wedding day to sit in the corner and don't talk until we want you (felt like I was in school and being told to sit in the corner; being punished for being a groom! Is that what I stayed morally clean for?) Meanwhile, my bride was being fauned over like a goddess. No matter how you word it, there's an imbalance there. Temples need to start treating grooms with the same dignity they do the brides. That would be a nice message. Part of that could be giving the groom and his escort (in my case my father) a nice waiting room befitting the day. You could even stock it with chocolate for his nerves. Just my opinion.

Brian said...

As a st. George temple ordinance worker I have been in the brides areas. They are quite nice. They even get their own initiatory booth separate from the regular booths so things can be intimate and quiet for them. The men are initiated along with everyone else. I believe a grooms room would be perfectly appropriate as young men want to feel the spirit of the day as well as if it was special for them as well. The way it is now feels kind of like the marriage preparations in the movie joe vs. the volcano with Tom hanks.
That whole idea that the wedding is for the woman and the honeymoon is for the man is bologna.

Brian said...

Mr. Unique Position,
It is very easy to categorize disagreement with the status quo as whining, just as you have done here. Fortunately not everybody dismisses complaints as whining, but you may consider it unfortunate. Are you still upset that whiners influenced church leadership to test then globally implement the three hour block? As you read the Journal of Discourses and see General Conference used to be a long affair of General Authorities rambling on until they ran out of things to say, do you feel upset that whiners wanting a reasonable schedule were an influence towards the two day, 10 hour schedule we use now?

Before this comment thread I had assumed that I had an unusually bad experience as a groom, but now I see it may have been typical. If this information comes before church or temple leaders, I hope they will be mature enough to accept there could be a better option than "sit down, shut up, and wait," as opposed to saying don't whine.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. As a groom I could've used a groom's room. My wife wanted us to wear Victorian outfits and I luckily was given a handicapped locker stall. Still I had to use the 3-4 inch wide ledge that could hardly be called a seat and try to put on my elaborate outfit. After taking longer than I would have liked, my father came in and assisted. Other than the outfit and the oversized locker, it felt like any other typical temple trip using a traditional locker.

Growing up as a young man I did often wonder why Young Women and Relief Society got their own rooms with their mottos, posters, and artwork in the meetinghouses where I grew up. Occasionally there would be a designated Scout room, otherwise as the post states, the Priesthood was relegated to whatever spare classroom, overflow area, or space was left to hold our meetings and exercises.

As a visual learner, I could definitely learn better from some architectural and visual cues as to the importance of the Priesthood and men's role in the home and family.

As a matter of aesthetics, I don't see why the Relief Society is so privileged as to be one of the few rooms outside of the chapel or perhaps a high council room in most meetinghouses to get padded chairs. My attention span in meetings and classes would definitely improve if I didn't have to spend hours on a cold, hard folding metal chair. The few months I had to bring a seat pad for my prostatitis would've been much easier and less awkward if we had some more padded chairs in our meetinghouses.

Between my past health condition and the potential backlash from the other commenter who thinks the post and comments simply boil down to whining, I'm also staying anonymous. I think through the fairly mild complaints, there is merit to this concept and these questions.

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that the Logan Temple has a Grooms Instruction Room. It was added a little over a year ago when the majority of the annex main floor was remodeled. It is between the clothing issue and the endowment waiting room. It has nice couches and chairs, accompanied by some wonderful art. Maybe this is an issue that those in charge are aware of, because this is a new addition to the Logan Temple. It was not there when I was married there. I guess only time will tell, but hopefully we will see more of these rooms as the temples are built and remodeled.

Anonymous said...

As a groom, I didn't feel like I was treated as a second-class temple patron; to the contrary, I was treated well and it was a wonderful experience. I think it would have been wonderful with or without a groom's room.

Heidi said...

Never thought about this as an issue nor to I feel as if I need "compensation" because I don't "hold" the Priesthood by enjoying the Bride's Room based on my sealing and those of my daughters. The ordinances in the temple received in the Initiatory and Endowment make very clear the role of women as partners in the Priesthood. Why all the justification? Ask the Prophet!

Heidi said...

Since your last post and my comment, I have felt a sour feeling towards your blog and the narrow minded uninformed "Priesthood" holders who have also made comments.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Mr. Unique Position's opinion on this topic, and I am only writing this comment so he isn't the only voice. To me, you all sound whining and immature. Padded chairs and designated Relief Society rooms? Really, people? It is so petty and unimportant.

I'm not married yet, but I can tell you that it's not because of the pretty pictures on the walls of the Bride's Room that I'm going to get married in the temple. And I'll give you all the padded chairs you want for your sore little bums, because that's not why I go to church on Sunday. To be frank, I'm ashamed for you that you are so jealous of your wife's padded chair!

However, to be clear, I don't disagree with having a groom's room in the temple, padded chairs, designated rooms for Priesthood, or any of it! I want my groom to be comfortable, and feel respected and reverent before his sealing and while at church. But I do disagree with everyone's general attitude -- pointing fingers at the church that "that's not fair!" like a child who wants a cookie because his sister got one.

Anonymous said...

The childish depths some people will go to, to discredit opinions they disagree with continually astounds me.

Brian J said...

In my ward conference last Sunday, a counselor in the stake presidency, who is also the local institute director, brought up this subject. He said the temple sealing is representative of the Church and the Bridegroom. The members of the church need preparation; the Savior does not. If what he said is correct, we will never see groom's rooms.

That being said, temples really need a better option for grooms than "sit down, shut up, and wait."

Matthew Taylor said...

1) I've had similar thoughts of 'why do women get the nicer room' and the men have to usually get shifted room to room, stage to gym, depending on their meeting rotation.' But after reading this post, the thought occurred to me that the greatest High Priest, Christ, would never had asked for a nice, special room. I think he should be our role model; servant and bestowing blessings on the church, not self-glorifying because of his position or authority. Just a thought.

2) I was married in the LA Temple. I got a locker. I don't think the accommodation is important. What is important is the the experience the temple workers create for the bride and groom. Although I didn't have a 'room', I had the nicest elderly gentleman who assisted me in dressing in my temple ceremonial clothing. He took such time, care and attention to ensure that each piece was perfectly applied and presented so I looked sharp, not sloppy as so many grooms I see come through do. He then escorted me to where I waited for my bride. Because of the care in which he helped me clothe, I've always tried to subsequently put the ceremonial clothing on with similar reverence and attention to detail.

I think the lesson for all readers that may be current or future temple workers is to do all you can to help grooms have an experience that you may have missed out on.

greg porter said...

Isn't it sweet that the woman you are marrying in the temple is being treated like the princess she is and the queen she is to become? A grooms room would be nice, but really brethren, are we all that disappointed; especially when we see her when she is done?

D1Warbler said...

The D.C. Temple has a Groom's room -- across the hall from the Bride's room. Both are lovely. It certainly wouldn't hurt -- where there is space -- to add a groom's room to each Temple!