Military weddings are steeped in tradition. From the dress codes, to the way you cut your cake and address your guests on invitations, everything is coded by a rich and beautiful history. We have rounded up some tips and helpful inspiration to ensure that your big day is a day full of patriotism intermingled with gorgeous personal style.


It can be helpful to hire a wedding planner who is specialized or at least well versed in military weddings. If you choose not to go that route, at least consider weaving in some of the time-honored traditions that will incorporate hints of patriotism and honor the service that either you and or your spouse have contributed to our nation. Consider having your ceremony at the chapel on the grounds of the military academy or grounds to commemorate where it all began. Just be sure to book about a year in advance, because like any other popular venues, they fill up fast!

The Glory is in the Details

Use formal titles when creating and sending out invitations, in your programs, or even in the vows themselves. Doing so not only honors you and/or your spouse, but also your guests who may be military personnel. Another one of the main distinctions about a military wedding is that the bride, groom, and guests may dress in their issued uniform. This applies to both active and retired military service members who are often seated according to rank. The commanding officer(s) of either the bride, groom, or both may sit with the family, or take the place of the couple’s parents if not present. The types of uniforms worn may be subject to the wedding’s style, time of day, season, and/or the government issued uniform manual.

A Beautiful Exit

One of the special ceremonial details is the arch of swords or sabers. This crossing of the arch, as the bride and groom leave the ceremony or reception, is to ensure safe passage for the couple into their new married life. In this event, the bride and groom walk under the arch and are delayed for a moment in which the bride, or non-service member, is usually tapped on the shoulder and welcomed into the branch of service of their spouse. The tapping can be skipped if both the bride and groom are in the military. This act represents continual support for the couple from their military family. Depending on the branch and availability of swords, rifles may also be used for this special moment. 

Cakes and Cutlass

Another honored tradition is making the first cut into your wedding cake with a special saber or sword. The type of sword may vary per military branch, but essentially the bride and groom pass under the sword or saber arch again to approach their cake. The groom gives his bride the saber, and with their hands together they cut the cake.

Note: Sometimes military chapels and officiants can be used for free if the ceremony is on the grounds and performed by an active duty military chaplain. If using a military chaplain to perform your ceremony, a few pre-wedding counseling sessions may be scheduled after you book the chapel. Also, a small honorarium or donation is usually expected of services for the grounds and or the chaplain. Talk to the on-duty chaplains if you would like a civilian clergyperson to officiate.

Hero Photo Courtesy of Rae Leigh Photography