Experts Tips For Planning a Military Wedding

Some Advice for Organizing a Military Nuptial

Each service has its own unique wedding traditions that serve as a public display of patriotism and allegiance. Some helpful hints for organising a wedding in the armed forces:

Consider a Military Chapel or Academy Grounds

It's not uncommon for military couples to tie the knot in a chapel or on academies' premises (Army, Navy, or Air Force). Check with the setup first if you want to utilise a different place. If you want to get married in a military chapel, you'll need to start planning a year in advance, usually by sending a letter of request to the pastor's office. At the Air Force Academy, for instance, you can choose among the Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic chapels. Only graduates, dependents of graduates, officers and enlisted personnel posted to the academy complex, and active and retired teachers and staff members and their dependents are eligible to get married at the military church at a service academy.

You'll be asked to make a contribution to the chapel's operating fund, but there won't likely be any fees associated with using the space. While the regulations for designing military chapels differ from one location to the next, the Chapel Altar Guild is responsible for coordinating the same flowers, candlesticks, and other decorations for each wedding. Some churches and chapels don't provide decorations, so the couple has to think of those on their own. You can have a more conventional hotel or restaurant reception, or you can have the event at one of the officers' or enlisted societies on the installation, for military celebrations at academies or bases.

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Identify Potential Officiants

When you rent the chapel for your wedding, you will meet with the chaplain to discuss the details of your ceremony. Counseling sessions prior to the wedding may also be necessary. It's important to discuss your desire for a civilian clergy member to co-officiate with both officiants well in advance. You don't have to pay a fee to a chaplain because they are a commissioned officer who is supported financially by the military they represent. It is common practise to compensate civilian clergy members who provide assistance.

Guests Should Be Seated in Order of Rank

Seating arrangements for a military wedding require extra care. At both the ceremonies and the celebration, all officers of the rank of lieutenant and colonel must be given seats of honour. The bride and/or groom's commanding officer should also be given a prominent seat during the reception. The couple's superior officer(s) and their spouses will sit up front if the parents are unable to attend the ceremony. Next, please seat your military guests in the appropriate ranks.

Keep to the Uniform Rules

Military men who are also the groom are expected to wear full dress uniform. The groom may choose to wear a sabre or cutlass, that must be matched by white gloves, based on his branch of duty and whether or not he is a commissioned officer. To avoid the sword, the bride stands to his right at the altar, as opposed to the left as is customary in civilian weddings. If the bride is a member of the armed forces, she can choose between wearing her military uniform or a white bridal gown. The flower she is holding could be a bridal bouquet.

The Arch Of Sabers

Only commissioned officers should have an arch performed at their wedding since it is a symbol of protection for the newlyweds. The ushers will form a line on either side of the aisle leading to the chapel's steps as soon as the ceremony concludes. With an order of "Draw sabres (cutlasses)," the head usher causes his or her fellow ushers to lift their blades in the air, edge up, in the shape of an arch. The wedding party, including any civilian ushers, should form a line and stand at attention while the arch is being built. As the couple walks under the arch, the ushers lower their weapons at the instruction, "Return sabres (cutlasses)." After then, they turn around to lead the bridesmaids down the aisle. A weather-permitting opportunity would be to construct the arch at the ceremony's entryway. The arch is a fundamental part of army wedding traditions, though the exact directives and etiquette will vary depending on the officer's branch of service.

It is not necessary to have an arch, but having one is a great way to make a military event stand out in people's minds. Sabers are typically available for use in wedding ceremonies on at least one base chapel or with the honour guard (real swords are used in a Naval wedding). The local ROTC unit is also a possible resource.
Sabers and swords may be carried and used in this ceremony only by commissioned officers. (With the exception of the Marine Corps, where NCOs are also permitted to carry them.) While the military groomsmen usually participate, sometimes additional officers (or even guests) are tasked with forming the arch. There are usually between six and eight police officers. The chief usher will typically give instructions, beginning with "Center face," which means to stand in two parallel lines. When the command is given to "Arch sabres" (or "Draw swords"), all of the ushers lift their swords, blades facing upward, to create an arch. Officers sometimes veer from protocol by either publicly introducing the pair ("Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Lieutenant and Mrs. Smith!") or physically preventing them from parting ways by lowering the final two sabres and ordering a kiss. The last sabre bearer will "tap" the bride with his sabre and say, "Welcome to the Air Force, Ma'am." This is a Marine Corps ritual that has found its way into the Air Force.

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Cutting the Cake

The military has its own twist on this custom for commissioned officers. The sabre or cutlass carriers enter the main room facing each other and wait for the signal to enter. As they make their way to the cake, the bride and husband once again go beneath the sword or sabre arch. The groom unsheathes his blade and places his hands over his bride's as they share the first slice of wedding cake.

The Receiving Line

Traditional wedding tradition states that the uniformed groom must walk ahead of the bride in the receiving line. Displays of national colours and flags are common behind the receiving line's central point.

Conclusion

Weddings between members of the armed forces frequently take place in military chapels and academies. Getting married in a military chapel requires advanced planning, ideally starting one year in advance. The flowers, candlesticks, and other decorations in the Chapel are all coordinated. Careful consideration must be given to the seating arrangement for a military wedding. Performing an arch at a wedding is a symbol of protection for the newlyweds, and as such, it is reserved for commissioned officers only.

Depending on his military branch, the groom can wear white gloves with a sabre or cutlass. The ushers form an arch with their swords, blades pointing skyward. At least one chapel on base has sabres available for use in wedding ceremonies, and the honour guard often carries them as well. Welcome to the Air Force, Ma'am! the final sabre bearer will "tap" the bride with his sabre and announce.

Content Summary

  • Some helpful hints for organising a wedding in the armed forces:Consider a Military Chapel or Academy GroundsIt's not uncommon for military couples to tie the knot in a chapel or on academies' premises (Army, Navy, or Air Force).
  • Check with the setup first if you want to utilise a different place.
  • If you want to get married in a military chapel, you'll need to start planning a year in advance, usually by sending a letter of request to the pastor's office.
  • When you rent the chapel for your wedding, you will meet with the chaplain to discuss the details of your ceremony.
  • Counseling sessions prior to the wedding may also be necessary.
  • It's important to discuss your desire for a civilian clergy member to co-officiate with both officiants well in advance.
  • Seating arrangements for a military wedding require extra care.
  • At both the ceremonies and the celebration, all officers of the rank of lieutenant and colonel must be given seats of honour.
  • The bride and/or groom's commanding officer should also be given a prominent seat during the reception.
  • The couple's superior officer(s) and their spouses will sit up front if the parents are unable to attend the ceremony.
  • Next, please seat your military guests in the appropriate ranks.
  • If the bride is a member of the armed forces, she can choose between wearing her military uniform or a white bridal gown.
  • Only commissioned officers should have an arch performed at their wedding since it is a symbol of protection for the newlyweds.
  • The ushers will form a line on either side of the aisle leading to the chapel's steps as soon as the ceremony concludes.
  • The wedding party, including any civilian ushers, should form a line and stand at attention while the arch is being built.
  • A weather-permitting opportunity would be to construct the arch at the ceremony's entryway.
  • The arch is a fundamental part of army wedding traditions, though the exact directives and etiquette will vary depending on the officer's branch of service.
  • It is not necessary to have an arch, but having one is a great way to make a military event stand out in people's minds.
  • Sabers are typically available for use in wedding ceremonies on at least one base chapel or with the honour guard (real swords are used in a Naval wedding).
  • Sabers and swords may be carried and used in this ceremony only by commissioned officers. (
  • While the military groomsmen usually participate, sometimes additional officers (or even guests) are tasked with forming the arch.
  • The chief usher will typically give instructions, beginning with "Center face," which means to stand in two parallel lines.
  • When the command is given to "Arch sabres" (or "Draw swords"), all of the ushers lift their swords, blades facing upward, to create an arch.
  • The military has its own twist on this custom for commissioned officers.
  • As they make their way to the cake, the bride and husband once again go beneath the sword or sabre arch.
  • The groom unsheathes his blade and places his hands over his bride's as they share the first slice of wedding cake.
  • Traditional wedding tradition states that the uniformed groom must walk ahead of the bride in the receiving line.
  • Displays of national colours and flags are common behind the receiving line's central point.

FAQs About Military Weddings

Free Chapels. One of the best perks of being in the military when it comes to tying the knot is that the base chapel is typically free including a chaplain performing the wedding ceremony with a variety of choices including almost any religious denomination, non-religious, military, civilian and casual.

If you are in the military yourself, you have the option of wearing your dress uniform just as your soon-to-be spouse will be required to wear his. Military members within the wedding party typically wear full ceremonial dress uniforms with their military decorations serving as boutonnieres

Members of the military, both active and retired, are welcome to wear their uniforms or the appropriate dress uniform. Make your guests wear their military uniforms to your next black tie or white tie event. Ask your guests to wear either Class A or Service dress uniform to your semiformal wedding.

At military weddings, the groom wears a uniform that not only reflects his rank and speciality but also his loyalty to the country and willingness to lay down his life for its defence. Putting on the uniform as a married couple symbolises a shared commitment to duty, honour, and sacrifice for the greater good of their country.

Members of the armed forces who are part of the bridal party often wear full ceremonial dress uniforms, with the medals and decorations they have earned serving as boutonnieres. During the colder months, a blue uniform is more common, whereas in the warmer months, a white uniform is more common.

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