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  • Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

    I got engaged this last weekend and we are planning on having a full military wedding, sabers and all, and I have a couple questions regarding wedding etiquette (if anyone has has had or attended a military wedding).

    1. My fiance has elected to wear his ASU rather than his dress mess, but is considering wearing the full size medals and the dress hat. We checked and this is permissable within regulations, but then we are curious how this corresponds to our guests who are also military.

    2. We are including on the invitation that "military attire is welcome, but not 'required' "; however, most of whom we know will for sure wear theirs. Do we need to inform everyone to wear full-size medals (if they want) or is it permissable to let the guests simply wear their ribbons (I am sure everyone does NOT want to repin their uniform just for our wedding, which is FINE....but I didn't know if there was a regulation in regards to consistency with the event).

    I just want people to be comfortable and have fun, but if due to my fiancee's choice, we should inform higher ranking guests, I have no problem with that. If there is no specific etiquette rule and military guests would prefer to not be rattling when they walk....that's fine too! LOL

    3. Also, my fiance is a Major, but we will have a couple LTC's, Colonels, a B.G. and an M.G. in attendance. We understand that their ranks take precendence, so does it matter if my fiance is 'blinged out' so to speak but the higher ranking officials are only wearing their ribbons? Do we need to notify them? We are more concerned about a military faux pas than caring about if people 'match' (we're not that high strung)..

    4. We are also borrowing the saber set from my fiancee's ROTC alma mater, and we have enough military to handle the task, but where can I locate specific procedure regards to saber presentation. Yes, I have tried looking online and I am not finding much.

    If anyone has any experience in this area, please feel free to chime in.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

    Here's some stuff.

    http://www.weddingdetails.com/lore/military.cfm

    Requirements

    If the service is performed by a military chaplain, there is never a fee. He or she should be consulted before hiring musicians or a photographer.

    Military custom dictates that a formal invitation to the reception be extended to the chaplain and his or her spouse.

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    Wedding Attire

    An officer or enlisted personnel in the bridal party wear uniforms in accordance with the formality of the wedding and seasonal regulations.

    For officers, evening dress uniform conforms to civilian white tie and tails. Dinner or mess dress uniform is in accordance with black tie.

    In the case of non-commissioned officers, dress blues or Army green uniforms may be worn at formal or informal weddings. A female officer may wear a traditional bridal gown, or she may be married in uniform. A boutonniere is never worn with uniform.

    White gloves are a necessity for all saber (sword) bearers. The choice to attend the wedding in uniform as a military guest is optional.

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    Seating of Officers

    At the ceremony, the bride or groom's commanding officer and spouse may sit in the front pew if the parents are not present. Or, the commanding officer may sit near or with the family.

    Flag and general officers are customarily seated just behind the two families.

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    Army - The Arch of Sabres

    The arch of swords takes place immediately following the ceremony, preferably when the couple leaves the chapel or church, on the steps or walk. Since a church is a sanctuary, in case of bad weather, and with permission, the arch may be formed inside the chapel or church. Also, with permission, you may be allowed to have two arch of sabers, one in the church and one outside.

    If an arch is held inside and the ushers are commissioned officers, they line up with the bridal party at the altar. After the blessing, the bride and groom turn, face the guests and remain there while the saber bearers get into position.

    The senior saber bearer issues a quiet cue, and all saber bearers turn, proceed to the center aisle in pairs, facing the guests, and stop at a point just forward from the first pew line. With the command "Center Face" they pivot so that the officers are in two lines facing each other. At the "Arch Sabers" command, the saber is raised with the right hand until it touches the tip of the saber directly opposite. The cutting edge is up.

    As the guests stand, the bride and groom start the recessional, passing beneath the arch.

    After the newlyweds have walked through, the commands "Carry Sabers" "Rear Face" and "Forward March" will move the saber bears to the outside of the chapel to prepare for the second arch.

    Only the bridal couple may pass under the arch. The recessional continues after the saber bearers have exited the chapel.

    It is traditional, as the couple recess through the arch of swords, that the last two men to make up the arch lower their swords in front of the couple, detaining them momentarily, while the sword bearer on the right, with his sword, gives the bride a gentle "swat" on the rump and utters, "Welcome to the Army," or the appropriate branch of service. This step is omitted if the bride is in the military. Only commissioned servicemen and servicewomen may participate in the arch of swords or sabers.

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    Navy & Marine Corps - The Arch of Swords

    The arch of swords for weddings is authorized for commissioned, warrant, staff noncommissioned officers, and noncommissioned officers only. The arch of swords ceremony is an old English and American custom, which gives a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newly married couple from their Marine family. Only the newly married couple is allowed to pass under the arch.

    The ushers normally form the sword detail, however other officers, warrant or staff noncommissioned officers may be designated as needed. Customarily, six or eight members take part in the ceremony. The ushers form at the bottom of the chapel steps, in two equal ranks, at normal interval, facing each other, with sufficient room between ranks (3 to 4 paces) for the bride and groom to pass. The senior usher is positioned in the left rank furthest from the chapel exit.

    The swordsmen, usually ushers, seat the guests, and after the mother of the bride has been escorted, will hook on their swords, wearing them until time to form the arch.

    It is virtually the same as the Arch of Sabers except for the command "Officers, Draw Swords" when the swords are drawn from their scabbards in one continuous motion, rising gracefully to touch the tip of the opposite sword. Then, at "Invert Swords" there is a quick turning of the wrist so that the cutting edge is up.

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    Air Force - The Arch of Sabres

    The saber bearers cannot perform the function of ushers. The bearers head the processional lines, the chaplain waits at the top of the chancel and the saber bearers proceed until they form two lines directly in front of the chaplain, making sure that they leave enough room for the bride and groom to kneel. Upon reaching their positions, they pivot to face each other and pivot again to face the guests.

    As the bride and groom pass each set, the saber bearers automatically face one another, and, as the bridal couple prepares to kneel, all saber bearers turn in unison to face the Bible on the altar.

    When the blessing has been completed, all pause as the arch is formed before the couple leaves the chancel.

    After passing through the arch, the bride and groom wait for a moment at the head of the chancel steps, and the command is issued to return the saber to the Badric (saber belt) or to carry sabers. The recessional is then commenced.

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    Departure from the Church

    At a military wedding, the bride and groom usually leave the chapel or church under the traditional arch of sabers.

    It is preferable that six ushers in uniform perform this ceremony, although many more may take part. Ushers may be in uniform of one or more services.

    Rifles can be substituted for the sabers if there is difficulty in obtaining the needed amount. Most military chapels have them on hand, or the couple could check with the local military museum or with the various commanding officers to request the sabers.

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    The Wedding Reception

    At the reception, if the groom is in uniform, protocol demands that he proceed the bride in the receiving line.

    The national colors and distinguishing flags may be displayed, exactly centered, behind the receiving line, and if the reception room is large, the bridal couple may want an arch included at the reception instead of during the recessional.

    Cutting of the Cake

    On command, the saber bearers enter the reception room in formation lining up in front of the wedding cake, facing each other.

    The bride and groom leave the receiving line, then pass beneath the arch. They may pause and kiss, before proceeding to cut the cake. The groom would then hand the bride his unsheathed saber and with his hands over hers, their first piece is cut.

    At a Marine Corps Birthday cake cutting ceremony or a military wedding reception, it is customary to use an officer or noncommissioned officer's sword to cut the birthday or wedding cake.

    For a Marine Corps cake cutting ceremony, the sword is usually placed unsheathed on the cake cart and handed to the commanding general/commanding officer by the senior escort. This is done by laying the sword over the left forearm, cutting edge away from the body, and the hilt towards the commanding general/commanding officer.

    At a wedding, an officer, warrant or staff noncommissioned officer passes his sword and presents it to his bride, by laying the sword over his left forearm, cutting edge away from the body, hilt towards the bride. The bride takes the sword and cuts the wedding cake, with the groom's right hand resting over hers on the sword's hilt and with his left arm free to place around his bride. (Note: To preclude damaging the sword's blade, ensure it is thoroughly cleaned prior to returning it to the scabbard.)

    There is no ornamentation to the saber. It must remain undecorated.

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    Other Traditions

    Another tradition is that a midshipman or cadet may give his fianceť a miniature of his class ring as an engagement ring.

    Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) personnel may give miniatures of their fraternity rings to their fianceť. During the wedding ceremony, a simple band is exchanged to complete the set.

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    • #3
      Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

      Yes, I found those blurbs as well while awaiting Mod approval on my post. They will definitely come in handy with the saber portion. I still cannot, however, find anything on wear and appearance in regards to precedence for groom vs. higher ranking guest.

      My fiancee has a friend who, although is not a Chaplain, is one of his Sgt's and also a licensed officiant, who will most likely be performing the ceremony.

      We are also, ironically enough, leaving our ranks off the invitations. I will be an Officer Candidate and we did not know if that qualified as an appropriate rank/title for on an invitation. So the inivitations will only have our civilian names.
      Last edited by Chris36; March 20th, 2012, 10:25 AM.

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      • #4
        Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

        1st congratulations on the engagment and the upcoming wedding! I too am getting married, my wedding is in May. I have been floored as to how much intricate detail goes into a wedding. My head has been spinning for the last few months, all I know is when my fiance and I talk about the wedding my wallet usually opens up lol! I cannot imagine what it would be like trying to fit military customs and courtesies into the process. Good luck getting everything figured out, the medals vs ribbons question has me stumped, researching..........

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        • #5
          Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

          Originally posted by SGT Juggernaut View Post
          1st congratulations on the engagment and the upcoming wedding! I too am getting married, my wedding is in May. I have been floored as to how much intricate detail goes into a wedding. My head has been spinning for the last few months, all I know is when my fiance and I talk about the wedding my wallet usually opens up lol! I cannot imagine what it would be like trying to fit military customs and courtesies into the process. Good luck getting everything figured out, the medals vs ribbons question has me stumped, researching..........
          I have book on military weddings, but it doesn't say. Some say, even though the military attire is optional, we should inform the higher ranks that the groom is wearing full medals in the event they want to, but I don't want them to feel like they HAVE to....nor do I want them to be offended if my fiancee is in full-on garb and they weren't aware....

          Hey, I'm wearing a DRESS, I don't really care if they all want to rattle and jingle around like 3rd world country dictators (no offense meant to any brass on the forum....just a little humor!), I just don't want to offend anyone or bruise any egos and hope everyone has a good time.

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          • #6
            Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

            Maybe expand your research by finding a popular wedding forum and search or register and ask? It's usually what I do on unique subjects.

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            • #7
              Re: Wedding Etiquette Questions and Wear of Full Size Medals

              Originally posted by SteveLord View Post
              Maybe expand your research by finding a popular wedding forum and search or register and ask? It's usually what I do on unique subjects.
              That's definitely what I am trying, this forum was just one of the many resources I'm trying to tap into! :-)

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