If you or your fiancé or both of you are actively serving in one of the branches of the United States Military, did you know that you could plan a Military Wedding? Like all other weddings, a Military Wedding features a religious ceremony, but it distinguishes itself by the attire worn and the traditions incorporated that help salute the military involvement of the bride and/or groom.
A Military Wedding often has a military chaplain preside over the service with a military chapel on base selected as the wedding ceremony's location, where permission for flowers, music and photography must be secured ahead of time. Often an American flag is displayed somewhere near the altar where the vows are taken. The site of a reception for a Military Wedding can be a nearby restaurant or hotel or officer's club, again on the base where the bride and/or groom are based.
Be sure to include any military titles or ranks held by the groom in the official wedding invitation, although the bride may decline to list hers. Wedding guests may be invited to come attired "in full dress uniform".
Full ceremonial dress uniform distinguishes the attire at Military Weddings and depends upon the season (blue in winter; white in summer), including white gloves and swords if the groom's military branch is Navy or Coast Guard, and white gloves and sabers if the affiliation is Army or Marine Corps. Grooms wear decorative medals on their uniforms rather than the traditional flower boutonniere. If the bride chooses a wedding gown rather than her uniform, she can still carry a bouquet but her gown should be a formal style to match her groom's uniform.
One of the most dramatic differences of a Military Wedding from a traditional wedding is the Arch of Sabers (for Air Force or Army) or the Arch of Swords (for Navy and Marine Corps) that the married couple walks under as they leave the church. This symbolizes safe passage into their new life together. Rifles can be substituted for sabers or swords. At least six gloved ushers in military uniform face each other to form the archway of either swords or sabers that the new couple passes under as they leave the ceremony to the applause of guests.
These same ushers are called into duty again at the wedding reception, forming an arch under which the new couple passes in order to cut the cake. An officer presents the bride with his sword with which to cut the first slice.