Friday, November 22, 2013

Elements of Military Weddings

With Veteran’s Day having passed and Thanksgiving around the corner, we take a look at the traditions of military weddings.  In military weddings, special customs demonstrate the honor of individuals who have served our country.

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Of course, the ring completes every engagement. Midshipmen and cadets may give their fiancées a smaller version of their class ring as an engagement ring, instead of the traditional diamond. 


The main noticeable difference at a military wedding is the attire, with military uniforms replacing tuxedos or suits. The particular uniform can differ depending on the style of wedding, season, and guidelines found in the Government-manual of uniforms. 

The “mess” dress uniform is typical for formal weddings. If the wedding is semi-formal or more casual, service or class-A attire is appropriate.  If any groomsmen serve in a different branch than the groom, they can simply wear their uniforms of comparable formality. If the bride is in the military, she may wear her dress uniform, though most opt for a traditional wedding gown. Family and guests who are active or retired military may also wear uniforms, if they choose.

If the groom and groomsmen are in military dress, then boutonnieres are not used and they simply wear their military decorations.  

Often military couples will get married in a military academy or a chapel on base, though they may opt for their own church, synagogue, or wedding venue.  The chaplain of the base may officiate, since the bride or groom may already have close ties with him, and the chaplain will do the ceremony for free.    
Seating at the ceremony can be slightly different from the typical wedding, as well. Guests who are currently serving or  have served in the past should be seated according to rank.


For music, the couple may opt for regimental compositions or the theme song of the branch for which the bride or groom serves. 


Flags can be placed around the venue to show the couple’s patriotism. Brides can add flowers around the flag to help accentuate the look.

After the ceremony, the bride and groom will leave the sanctuary greeted by guards holding ceremonial weapons.  The newlyweds will usually stop and kiss as they walk through the guards (making for a great photo op!).  Don't be surprised if the bride gets a pat on the butt, as she exits the arch of guards, welcoming her into that branch of service. 

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The cake cutting makes for another fun military tradition. The groom offers his sword to the bride, and they then make the first cut of the cake together holding his sword. That's one oversized cake knife!

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Military weddings are impressive to see, and incorporating military customs into the wedding allows family and guests to share in the pride for the bride or groom who serves, as well as the pride for this country.

*Natalie Gudel contributed to this article.

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