A military wedding is one that is steeped in tradition, which makes it very distinct. Traditionally and in true military fashion the groom or the bride will wear a uniform while a civilian bride wears a wedding dress. A military wedding follows certain protocols, listed below. Take a look at what should be done when you have to throw a military wedding.
- A military chapel is where most of military weddings are traditionally held and should be booked at least one year ahead. All branches of the military have their own chapels, with an appointed chaplain. If you wish to have the ceremony elsewhere you have to check with your installation if that can be allowed. There are no fees to pay for the military chapel’s use and for the services of the chaplain but it would be wise to make a donation. Check with your installation the rules followed for decorating the chapel as these can vary but the candelabras, flowers and other wedding decorations will be handled by the Chapel Altar Guild or by the couple, depending on the military branch they belong.
- In military wedding invitations, the titles of either the groom or the bride should be stated in full before their name if they are ranked officers, followed by the branch and service in another line below the name. If the bride or the groom is a junior or a company-grade officer, the name comes first, followed by the position, branch and service in a line underneath the name. The rank of an enlisted personnel is not included in the invitation but the branch of service is listed under the name of the personnel. If the person is in active duty, the usual title of Mr. or Miss should not be included. Bear in mind that the commanding officers and their spouses and all or a number of staff officers and their spouses should be invited to the wedding.
- A civilian bride can wear a regular wedding dress. If the couple both serves the military they often wear their uniforms. The kind of uniform to be used depends on the manual issued by the government on uniforms, the time of day and season the wedding will be performed and the style preferred by the couple. If the wedding is a very formal affair, the Mess uniform should be worn or its equivalent in a different branch of the military. If it is a semi-formal affair, a Service or a Class-A dress uniform is called for. Groomsmen and bridesmaids may follow suit. Be sure to indicate this type of service dress required in the invitation.
- Parents will be seated in the front pews, with the invited military officers seated according to rank behind the parents. During the reception the military officers and their spouses should also be ushered and seated according to rank. The highlight of the reception is when the groom hands a saber to the bride and she cuts the wedding cake with her husband’s right hand over hers.
- The arch of sabers is done outside the chapel after the wedding ceremony with ix to eight officers and groomsmen. The head usher gives the command to draw the swords. This arch of sabers has some variations depending on the military branch. Some cross the last two swords and demand that the couple must kiss first before being allowed to pass. The Marine Corps and the Air Force has the last one bearing the saber to tap the civilian bride to welcome her to the service family.
The flag of the United States, the military branch and company/troop flags are fitting decorations during the reception. It can also be a good idea to play your branch’s military song during the reception as well as the favorite songs of the bride and groom.