Whether you, your fiancé, or a family member is currently in the military or a retired veteran, you can honor and incorporate their service into your big day.
Military Chapel and Academy
Many military couples decide to get married at a military chapel or on academy grounds. You should apply formally in writing about a year before you want to get married to reserve the location. There typically isn’t a fee but a donation would be expected to allow the chapel to cover their costs of your wedding.
To marry in a military chapel you must be a dependent of a graduate; an officer or enlisted person assigned to the academy complex, or his or her dependents; or a faculty or staff member, active or retired, or his or her dependents.
You would also be required to have the chaplain perform your ceremony and possibly have pre-wedding counseling. You would not need to pay for the chaplain but again, a donation to the chapel would be respected.
You may decide to get married outside of military grounds and would want to choose a venue location. Some locations may give a military discount, so be sure to ask!
At a traditional military wedding, the enlisted personnel would wear their military uniform. However, many enlisted women choose to wear a wedding gown instead and the men will sometimes change out of their uniforms into a tuxedo for the reception.
If you choose to wear your uniform, you should to wear your Class-A (service dress uniform). Any sword bearers should be wearing their white gloves unless you are the bride, groom, best man, or maid of honor as you would be handling the rings.
At the ceremony, it is tradition to seat the bride or groom’s commanding officer and his/her spouse near the bride and/or groom’s immediate family. If the bride or groom’s parents cannot make the ceremony, the commanding officer is traditionally seated in place of their parents.
It is also customary to be considerate when arranging the remaining seating. High-ranking officials (lieutenant, colonel, and etc.) should be seated in positions of honor at both the ceremony and reception. While other military guests should be seated according to rank.
The Arch of Sabers
This is one of the most common military traditions to take place. Typically with six sabers, the swords are raised creating an arch in which the bride and groom proceed through. This is to symbolize the newlywed’s safe passage into their new life. Depending on the branch of military the bride and/or groom are in, the Arch of Sabers would take place at some point during the ceremony.
Cutting of the Cake
If you were a commissioned officer, the bride and groom would pass through the saber arch again before cutting the cake. The groom would hand the bride an unsheathed sword and together they would cut the first piece of cake.
U.S. Army Veteran Justin Lansford was paired with his best “man,” Gabe, through the Warrior Canine Connection program. Justin was struggling before matched with his best friend after he lost his leg in Afghanistan.
We were pleasantly taken aback when we heard that Justin chose his service dog to be his best man. Gabe was even outfitted in a tailored army uniform! It was such an amazing story and an idea we hope to see to continue on.
Many brides and grooms have unfortunately lost loved ones due to several circumstances. Having a remembrance table is a great way to honor, cherish, and remember those that could not be here with you on your special day.
Many couples are now choosing to collect donations for veterans at their weddings instead of receiving gifts or giving away favors. From collecting care packages to be sent overseas, to monetary donations to be sent to organizations dedicated to helping those who have fought for us. This is a new trend we love to see!