U.S. military forces and its branches have various strict rules and regulations. Similarly, when a military personnel is set to marry the love of his/her life, there are some etiquettes that need to be followed. A military wedding is not just the celebration of a union; in fact, it adds a lot of honor and pride to the partnership.
As a matter of fact, not everybody gets an opportunity to marry the better half of their life uniquely and in a special way. All their lives, military men/women serve the country without expecting anything in return. So, when it’s their D-Day, the couple deserves all the happiness.
As there are, in total, six branches in the U.S. military, and all of them follow different wedding rules and etiquette that are specific to each branch service. Without further ado, let’s look at some of them and upgrade our views on how a military wedding is planned.
Any military personnel of a rank who is getting married needs to invite their colleagues and seniors. However, the invitations sent to them are addressed according to their titles. Furthermore, the titles mentioned always come in front of their names.
For example, if the invitation is addressed to a veteran serviceman, then the card will have something written like the one mentioned below.
Colonel William Charles
United States Marine Corps, Retired
Additionally, whosoever belongs to a lower rank, their tiles appear after their names. Framing of the invites for military people is extremely important and needs to be directed very carefully.
Seating Arrangement by Rank in a Military Wedding
Usually, at a non-military wedding, you would see family members and close friends who have captured the front seats to commemorate the union of their loved ones. However, the roles can be reversed in the case of a military marriage ceremony.
All the U.S. servicemen attendees are either seated in front of the chapel or a row behind the first one that can be reserved for family members. It is not like any regular civil ceremony where everything is very casual.
During any military wedding, the ranks and titles are important to be honored and respected. The decorum is maintained well if the seating arrangements are organized carefully. In the special case where the parents of the bride or groom are not in attendance at the wedding ceremony, things change.
In that case, their respective commanding officers and spouses are seated in the first row. To chalk out everything in order, the installation protocol officer is the go-to person.
Honorable Display of American Flag
How can the U.S. military wedding be completed without the display of the American flag? As a mandatory thing and as a sign of respect, the flag is symbolic of national unity. It flies high and is present on the left side of the officiant officiating the wedding ceremony.
Respect is paid to the country, and pride swells everyone in attendance with pride. Music or no music, a military wedding without the American flag is a complete No No.
In civil ceremonies, Boutonnières are common and essential to complete the look of a groom. Nowadays, the trends are that the groom styles it according to the colors and hues chosen by the bride. This twinning and couple-matching are very adorable.
However, that’s not the case in military weddings. Boutonnière is not worn along with formal uniforms. Servicemen who are all set to tie the knot in their respective uniforms are never allowed to alter or decorate it.
Another dress code that men need to follow is wearing white gloves with their official uniform. And to add more, men need to look in a certain way which is far from looking like a hippie.
Besides, medals earned can be worn, but again they should be a part of your service uniform; anything additional means that you are “out” of your uniform.
However, women who are in service and marrying in their honorary military uniform can carry a boutique and walk the aisle, as it is not categorized as a part of the official dress.
A Military Wedding in Academies or Chapels
Those servicemen who are very particular about their uniform and military status prefer choosing military chapels and academies for their wedding ceremonies. Besides, what’s even better is to exchange vows in front of a military chaplain.
These chaplains are not only free but also will make sure that all the rules and etiquette of the wedding are followed. Also, the important thing to note is to always book these chapels in advance to avoid any delays and alterations in your wedding plans.
Walking Through the Arch of Sabers/Swords
The most distinct and military-centric thing in any military wedding is the newlyweds walking through the arch of sabers. The timings and location of the arch of sabers totally depend on the branch of the U.S. Military service.
For instance, a Navy personnel with his/her spouse does it right after the blessings, whereas in the case of the army and air force servicemen, they have the option to choose either before or after the nuptials.
This beautiful tradition is to welcome the couple to the military world and is usually very fun-filled. What happens is that the couple walks through the arc made of swords and faces the veterans.
As soon as they have reached the end, the two interesting swords stop them and ask the beautiful wife to kiss her husband. After she does, they are allowed to move forward. And if the spouse is not a part of the military, then one of the servicemen taps the woman from behind with the sword and yells with excitement, “Welcome to the (branch of service), Mrs. (Surname)”
Overall, all of this is a way of welcoming the spouse to the military family and celebrating their lives moving forward, which is going to be about sacrifices and serving the country.
Cake Cutting Traditions in a Military Wedding
Totally different from any civilian wedding, where the couple cuts through a long-tiered cake with a big butter knife, a military marriage ceremony has a different etiquette. Again during the cake-cutting ceremony in the reception, an arch of sabers is formed again to welcome the couple.
The couple walks through the arc again, and the man hands his sword to his beautiful bride and places his over hers. With the togetherness, the military couple cuts the cake. (So adorable!)
Colors and Vibe at the Reception
The seniority levels are not only followed during the exchanging of vows in the chapel but also followed in the reception. Having said that, it depends on the bride and groom, who can shuffle things a bit. Also, to avoid any miscommunications, the best is to convey and communicate.
Coming to colors that dominate the grand celebratory evening are related to the branch of their service. In addition to this, some of the couples also wear special wedding bands with different weavings.
It is needless to say, be it any wedding, civilian or military, music is an inseparable part of the ceremony. Especially at a military wedding, it is very common to hear the service branch’s stamped song.
However, the attendees present may belong to different service branches, so the perfect way is to play an ensemble of all their respective signature songs. Not only will it be fun, but it will also respect each and every one of the servicemen.
There is something like a patriotic send-off, which is not compulsory but is a famous military wedding idea. The guests wave American flags at the couple after the nuptials as they set off to the reception venue.
If not this, at times, paper airplanes with sweet wishes and blessings are flown over them. All of these don’t count as proper traditions but are some fun additions that set the whole tone of the wedding happy.
Finally, these are some of the military wedding rules and etiquette in the USA that are followed with great joy and responsibility. Overall the basic tone of every wedding is the same, which is immense happiness and celebration.
However, what differentiates a civilian marriage from a military wedding is the rules and regulations that are important to the couple as well as the guests. Moreover, there are chances that civilians are also a part of the wedding. In that case, they need to be prepared beforehand for the things expected of them.
Also, they might not get the opportunity to be a part of some of the traditions, like the arch of sabers and more. One important tip is to arrive early for the ceremony as it might take time to clear the military checking in the very beginning.