Seriously, who doesn’t love a classic military wedding? Military weddings are so steeped in tradition, respect, and our American history that it’s hard not to fall in love with this wedding theme. There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding, whether it’s military or not, however a military wedding can have a set of different guidelines. And if you’re having the ceremony on base or off base, many of these traditions and guidelines are carried over, even to Val Vista Lakes.
The Military Wedding Ceremony
There is a very high degree of tradition when it comes to a military wedding, which is the reason why so many military families tend to choose this option. Having your ceremony off base is completely acceptable to all functions of the military; however it should be run by your installation to be sure.
Many military wedding ceremonies contract the Army, Navy, or Air Force chaplains to oversee the ceremony. In most cases, the military chaplain are commissioned officers who are paid by the service they represent, so you will not need to pay them a fee should you chose to get married on base.
One of grandest functions of a military wedding is the Arch of Sabers, where the newlyweds walk under an array of curved swords. Only commissioned officers can carry these swords and participate in this portion of the ceremony, which can include 6 to 8 officers who “Arch sabers” when the newly married couple makes their way out of the chapel. Military tradition here varies; sometimes the final officer will touch the shoulder of the bride with the sword to represent a welcome to the military, other times the final two officers will lower their swords to block the couple from completing their walk without a “kiss to pass.”
Military Wedding Attire
As with the Arch of Sabers, this is another big reason why couples choose to have a military wedding. Who can resist a man in uniform, right? Since your wedding day is the first day of your new life together, the first day of new traditions, promises and family, it’s also a good idea to have the military be a big part of that. If the military is going to be your new lives together, why not have it be part of your wedding.
The military uniform is truly what makes a military wedding…well, a military wedding. Attire requirement vary depending on rank and military branch, so it’s always best to check with the base protocol officer to find out exactly what is appropriate attire. Here are some suggestions from The Knot:
- Mess dress uniform is worn for both ultra-formal and formal weddings (i.e., a white or black-tie affair). For most branches, this means a dark-blue uniform, but during the summer months, the army and navy men may wear white pants.
- Class-A or Service dress uniform is appropriate at a semiformal event (comparable to a suit). Like the Mess dress uniforms, these are also dark-blue and sometimes with white pants.
- The bride and bridesmaids can wear their uniforms (if applicable) but many military brides opt for a traditional white wedding gown. Bridesmaids might wear navy bridesmaids' gowns to complement the colors of the men's uniforms, or any other color dress the bride prefers.
- If any of the groomsmen are members of a different service than the groom (Army instead of Navy, for example), they simply wear a uniform of comparable formality to his. The groom and best man do not wear gloves because they will be handling the rings, but the other ushers wear white gloves throughout the ceremony. Boutonnieres are never worn with uniforms; instead, officers wear their military decorations.
- Should the fathers of the bride or groom be active or retired officers, they may wear uniforms. So may mothers, although they usually choose to wear traditional mother-of-the-bride attire.
- Any non-military wedding-party members simply wear traditional wedding clothes of the same level of formality as those in uniform.
- Military guests (active or retired) may wear their uniforms or traditional formal attire. For a black- or white-tie affair, put "Mess dress uniform invited" on the invites to request that your guests come in uniform. For a semiformal wedding put either "Class A uniform invited" or "Service dress uniform invited."