Military weddings are formal and full of tradition. If you or your partner are in the armed forces, you are entitled to have a military wedding, in full uniform. There is a big difference between a civil wedding and a military wedding. A military wedding ceremony may take place at a base or post chapel, and your officiant will be a military chaplain.
There are many different military wedding customs and rituals; each branch of the armed forces has their own. However, the most recognisable tradition is observed by all branches – the Guard of Honour, and the Arch of Swords (or sabres). Kate Thompson at Confetti.co.uk describes the scene:
“What could be more dramatic, when you’ve just exchanged your vows than to walk under an archway of swords together? This ancient tradition, also known as an arch of sabres or steel, is only applicable to servicemen and servicewomen, not civilians. It used to be that only commissioned officers were afforded the luxury of an arch of swords but in these enlightened times all ranking members of the army, navy, marines or air force are allowed them.”
Uniforms play a big part in military weddings. Wearing uniforms is not limited to the wedding party, either. White gloves will be worn by the ushers but not by the groom or best man because of handling the wedding rings.
Other traditions include cutting the cake with a sword and using military music to signal the beginning of the ceremony. This might take the form of a trumpet being played on your arrival. According to military etiquette, the commanding officer of the bride and/or groom will sit in a place of honour at the ceremony, and at the wedding breakfast, they will have a special seat reserved on the top table close to the parents.
For a military wedding you could use the colours of your military uniform as the colour scheme for your wedding. For example, the Royal Navy’s colours are vibrant red, dark royal blue and crisp white, making it a great choice for your reception venue. You can incorporate the military theme into your stationery, too. Try using flags, maps and emblems that signify your branch of service, so an anchor for the navy, wings for the RAF and swords for the army.
Keep the patriotic feel at your wedding reception by having a military band playing to entertain your guests. If you are going for a vintage military theme for your wedding, you could hire a swing band for a 1940’s atmosphere.
Another worthwhile entertainment idea is to create a photo booth with military props. Leave a polaroid camera for your guests to take their photos and post them on a notice board with a personal message. Photo booths are great fun and will get everyone into the swing of the party.