Proper attire for a military wedding

Proper attire for a military wedding

Q. I am getting married in November and am busy planning the wedding. My gown is very dressy and I would like the wedding to be quite formal. My fiancée is in the military and so are a few of his groomsmen. He would like for them to wear their dress uniforms. I am wondering whether this is a good idea. Would I have to change what I am going to wear? And what about the other men of the wedding party who are not military? Would a mixture of two different types of dress on them look wrong? I don’t want to disappoint my about-to-be-new husband, but I also don’t want a wedding plan that I am uncomfortable with.

A.  What a wonderful set of problems to have! Actually, they are not really problems at all, but a wonderful event to plan for and look forward to. Brides and grooms everywhere look for things – big and small – to do that will make their wedding different and special. I remember once attending a wedding that turned out to be memorable because the father of the bride was of Scottish descent and wore a kilt; he looked great in his tribute to the family’s heritage. It added a sense of tradition and import as does wearing a service dress uniform. Unlike a “destination wedding” that may run many thousands of dollars, choosing to follow the military protocol for a wedding is a terrific way to make your wedding unique where the costs involved are very slight.                            

It’s important to understand that wearing their military uniforms is very meaningful for the servicemen in the wedding party. It marks them as special participants. This can be accomplished rather simply by wearing their dress uniforms or more dramatically by also carrying swords and wearing the accompanying white gloves. Army ceremonies cross sabers and Navy ceremonies use an arch of swords. It is hard to imagine anything that would be as emotional and extra-special as the processional after the wedding where you and your new husband would leave, walking out under a set of traditional crossed swords!

A useful note I learned is that the two men who would not wear gloves when carrying their swords are the groom and the best man, because they will be handling the rings. 

As for what you will wear: as the bride, you can be as formal and elegant as you wish. After all, a wedding is primarily about the bride; she sets the tone of the wedding. The other groomsmen who are not in the military can certainly wear the non-service equivalent of a dress uniform, namely, correct black-tie attire (a tuxedo). 

I am happy to hear that your fiancée is taking so much interest in the wedding plans rather than just “going along.” And, when you agree to his request , you are certainly starting off in a good direction.

I am sure it will all blend nicely and everyone will look splendid. 

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