One of the most obvious things that sets a military wedding apart from a civilian event is the attire. Military grooms and other members of the wedding party wear their uniforms according to the formality of the wedding and seasonal requirements. If the bride is a military officer, she can choose to wear her uniform as well, but she is also free to wear a traditional bridal gown. Also, a boutonniere is never worn with a uniform, and white gloves are necessary for all saber/sword bearers. Military guests have the option of wearing their uniform to the wedding or they may wear civilian attire.
The Arch of Sabers or Swords is a beloved custom of military weddings and definitely one of the most recognizable. Each branch of the military has very specific regulations as to who is allowed to participate and how and where the arch takes place. We most often see the majestic arch just outside of the ceremony site, where the couple will pass through this symbolic pledge of loyalty to them. Sometimes, the final pair of saber bearers will lower their sabers to detain the couple until they kiss. Then, often the last man on the right will give the bride a gentle swat on the backside with his sword while telling her, “Welcome to the (branch of service)!”
You thought working out your seating arrangements was a challenge…imagine trying to work in military guests according to rank! At the ceremony, the bride’s or groom’s commanding officer and spouse may sit near or with the family, or even in the front pew if the parents are not present! It is also customary that flag and general officers be seated just behind the two families. And at the reception, military guests are traditionally shown to their seats according to rank.
Happy Memorial Day! With grateful hearts, we humbly thank the men and women who have served our country in the military!