I am being compensated for this post as part of the Operation In Touch Brand Ambassador Program via MSB New Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Congratulations on getting married! Planning a wedding is the fun part (sort of.) If you’re thinking about a military wedding, you should know that there is no official protocol for military weddings.

You can incorporate as many or as few military traditions into your wedding as both of you please. Although, there are certain things military couples should know that could help them out before getting married.

10 WAYS TO prepare for your military wedding

Here are 10 ways to prepare for your military wedding.

1) Timing

Make sure that the service member’s schedule allows for attendance at dress rehearsals and the wedding itself. No deployments, TAD, TDYs, etc. This also means any major inspections or ceremonies for work.

2) Invitations

If your future spouse wants to include military rank as part of the invite, or you have military personnel you want to invite, you may want to check with the installation protocol or public affairs office to make sure it’s listed correctly.

3) Location

If you choose a chapel or location on a military base, you can save money because it’s cheaper than a civilian location. However, it may be a hassle if you have a lot of non-military people that need to get on base. Make sure to reserve the location at least 3 months ahead of time or if it’s popular than a year ahead of time. If you have non-military guests (including your vendors), then be sure to contact base security to find out the details to get them on base.

If you don’t choose a military base, then ask around for a military discount or package at civilian locations.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Save Money for Military Weddings

4) Chaplain

Military chaplains perform wedding ceremonies free of charge. It is customary, however, to make a small donation of $50-$60 to the chapel as a sign of appreciation (still a bargain!). If you decide to use a military chaplain, you may have to attend a pre-marital counseling session.

5) Sword or saber arch or the arch of rifles

The sword or saber arch is one of the most favored military wedding traditions. Because the wedding ceremony is a religious one, many military chapels and civilian churches prefer that the arch take place outside the chapel, after the service. For the sword or saber arch, six or eight service members line up in pairs on the chapel steps or along the walk. The bride and groom walk under the arch as they leave the chapel. Whether it’s a sword or a saber arch depends on your branch of service. Army and Air Force members carry sabers while Navy and Marine Corps members carry swords. Your chaplain can offer detailed information on the arch.

6) Uniforms 

All service members in the wedding party should wear the same uniform. For example, if the groom wears a mess dress uniform, all other military members of the wedding party should match. It’s a great way to save money if the service members already have the uniforms. If the bride is a service member, she may choose to wear appropriate civilian attire. You can also mix it up. Uniforms for the ceremony and civilian attire for the reception.

7) Rings

When you’re shopping for rings, you could try looking at the fine jewelry department of the base exchange to see if you like anything there. When looking for rings, please be aware of your lifestyles, especially the service member. If they work a lot with their hands, you may be better off with a more durable metal or material.

8) Cutting the cake

You can cut your wedding cate with a sword or saber. The bride holds the sword with the groom’s hand over hers. Together they cut the wedding cake and it makes for fun pictures.

9) Seating

At a formal reception, you may want to follow military protocol in seating your guests. You wouldn’t want to sit a flag officer next to someone fresh out of boot camp. Traditionally, military guests are seated by rank. Check with your installation protocol officer for more information.

10) Courthouse Wedding

If you choose to have a justice of the peace wedding, just make sure your wedding license or certificate is in order. It’s advisable to have a couple of copies for when the service member has to enroll the spouses into DEERS.  The service member or servicemembers can still wear their uniforms.

RELATED: 12 Tips for an Amazing Courthouse Wedding


2 Comments on 10 Ways to Prepare for Your Military Wedding

  1. One thing my fiancé told me, was that most military men would prefer that they wear Tungsten rings. This is easier for them to cut off in case of any emergencies with their hands.

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