Military Wedding Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on April 10, 2010

in Special Occasion - Weddings

wedding military etiquette

I bet you never thought you would hear “insurance” in an article about weddings, but, the number one rule when it comes to military wedding etiquette is buy yourself some wedding insurance! People in the military are on demand all the time. They might be called to duty on your wedding day! Having wedding insurance will make sure you don’t lose your deposits! You can do a search on the internet to find different carriers.

Now that we’ve taken care of business, on to the fun stuff! And one of those “fun” things is the traditional swap on the butt with the sword (you have to leave it in unless the bride is the one who is in the service). Basically, after the bride and groom are married and are walking under the Arch of Swords (the groomsmen create a tunnel of sorts with their swords for the couple to walk through – all groomsmen who are military personnel must wear gloves when handling the swords), the couple will pause as the last two groomsmen hold their swords down so the couple can’t pass. Then, the groomsman on the right will lightly tap the bride’s behind with his sword and say, “Welcome to the Army/Navy/etc.” PS – if you need swords, usually most venues will be able to provide them.

On the invitation, military wedding etiquette states the ranking should be used in place of Mr. or Ms. Members of the military are expected to wear their uniforms to the wedding. The couple may enter the reception under another Arch of Swords and if the groom is a member of the US Marines, they will use an officer’s sword to cut the cake. There are a lot of knives flying around here! Maybe an open bar wasn’t such a great idea?!

Military wedding etiquette is all about recognizing rank. It determines the order of the wedding party (highest ranked first down to civilian), as well as the seating arrangements. The bride/groom’s Commander and spouse should be seated with the family of the bride/groom. All other high-ranking officials should be seated directly behind the bride and groom’s family. Oh, and save a lot of seats because you are expected to invite every service person who has contact with the military member. That’s right; every person.


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