Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Friday, September 25, 2015

Military Wedding Guide

Army Bride, Guest Author

Since today is Memorial Day and I am marrying my very own military man, I decided to write a post about military weddings. I myself am not having a military wedding, since my fiancé didn’t seem too interested in wearing his dress blues. However, there are many people out there that do decide to have one. A military wedding isn’t really too different from a typical wedding.

WED-MilitaryWeddingMany decide to have the ceremony and reception on a military base, but it’s not necessarily the location that makes a military wedding. It’s the attire. Each branch has their own rules and uniforms that are to be worn in a wedding. The type of uniform depends on the style of the wedding, the time of day, the season and their government-issued uniform manual.

Below are a few tips, courtesy of The Military Wedding by Vanessa L. Baldwin.

• For very formal or formal weddings (i.e., a white or black-tie affair) a Mess Dress Uniform should be worn. Semi-formal evening weddings should also use the Mess Dress Uniform but for a daytime semi-formal wedding a Class-A or Service dress uniform is appropriate.

• If the groom or groomsmen are military then they must be in uniform. Non-military groomsmen must wear civilian attire of equal formality. Groomsmen who are members of a different service than the groom (Army instead of Navy, for example) must wear a uniform of comparable formality.

• A military bride the option of wearing their uniforms (if applicable) or may elect to wear appropriate civilian attire, a traditional white wedding gown. Although military bridesmaids also have the option of wearing appropriate civilian attire, it is important to note that they must be in military uniform if they are to participate in the sabre arch. Non-military bridesmaids should wear civilian attire of equal formality.

• Active or retired military mothers/fathers of the bride or groom may wear a uniform of matching formality to that of the bride and groom or may wear appropriate civilian attire.

• Guests who are active or retired military may wear their uniforms or may wear traditional formal attire. Be sure to give an indication to the level of formality desired as part of the wedding invitations. Adding “Mess dress uniform invited”, “Class A uniform invited”, or “Service dress uniform invited” will suffice for members of the military.

VanessaBaldwinAnother unique part of a military wedding is cutting the wedding cake with a saber or sword belonging to the groom, if he owns one. Traditionally the groom presents his sword to the bride, and together they cut the first slice of wedding cake. One important note is to remember to have napkins ready to clean the sabre after the cake cutting. If the sabre is placed in its sheath before being cleaned then icing and sugar will dry inside and be a real pain to clean up later.

Another really cool military wedding tradition is the arch of the sabers/swords. The Army and Air Force will use sabers and the Navy and Marines will use swords. The arch is not mandatory but if it is to be done it should include 6-8 officers, usually uniformed groomsmen and bridesmaids but other uniformed guests may participate to meet the numbers. Tradition varies across the branches and those forming the arch, but commonly the arch team leader will announce the couple before they enter the arches and then the last saber pair will lower their sabers and demand a kiss before passing. Some saber arches may even demand kisses at every pass!

BONUS Article: A Guide to Military Weddings

Photo Credit: Gwyneth Colleen Photography

Copyright © 2015 – Vanessa L. Baldwin. Vanessa L. Baldwin is the President and Senior Consultant of Elegant Beginnings, a wedding consulting and planning service in Northern Virginia.Ms. Baldwin is a graduate of University of Maryland BaltimoreCounty and Howard University School of Social Work, Washington, DC. After professional experience as a social caseworker and a social science analyst, Ms. Baldwin was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force. Ms. Baldwin retired from the Air Force in 1998.

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