All weddings are beautiful, but many agree that none can surpass the beauty and glory of a military wedding.
People who are lucky enough to be invited to a military wedding do realize that it isn’t like any other ordinary marriage ceremony, especially due to its degree of formality and tradition.
From men in uniform to cutting of the cake with a saber, military weddings in the U.S. for any man or woman who is serving or has served in any branch of the military come with certain protocols.
Take note of the following if you have been invited to a military wedding:
What to wear
Military uniforms are usually the main visible sign of a military wedding. If either or both bride and groom are in the military, they can decide to wear their full ceremonial dress rather than civilian clothing. In the U.S., the groom might wear his dress whites (in the summer) or dress blues (in the winter).
Women in the military usually forego their military uniform for a traditional wedding dress. If either partner is an officer, his or her evening dress uniform is formal and is mostly reserved for a white-tie affair, while dinner or mess dress uniforms are suitable for black-tie events.
Even though uniforms vary from branch to branch, their formality is the same. So, if you have been invited to a military wedding, and you are also a member of the military, kindly ask what the bride and the groom will be wearing, and dress according to the formality of the event. If you are not in the military, experts say it is best to choose a conservative clothing.
Take note of seating arrangements
Do respect the seating arrangements of a military wedding, especially during the reception. Although each branch of service has its own guidelines, usually commanding officers sit near the front.
They sometimes sit with the couple’s families or directly behind them. During the reception, military members are seated by rank. They can also sit together at what is called a table of honor.
The military chapel
Most military weddings are held at a military chapel and coordinated by a military chaplain. Here, you must take note of certain rules as some events may not even allow you to take photographs or bring in flowers.
Swords and other weapons
Note that some members of the military will carry a weapon. Usually, those in the Navy and the Coast Guard will appear in white gloves with swords while those in the Army and the Marines will hold sabers.
If one of the partners or both of them are commissioned officers, they may exit the ceremony under a saber arch formed by honor guards. Those who are noncommissioned officers or enlisted personnel will use a variation known as the Arch of Rifles.
The arch, according to brides.com, “serves as a pledge of loyalty to the couple by their military family and often ends with the final two military members lowering their sabers to prevent the couple from passing.”
Note that if the bride is not in the military, she will be ceremonially tapped on the behind with a saber as a way of saying “Welcome to the Army, Mrs…”. The couple will then be allowed to pass.