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Excited and inspired by the upcoming 3-day weekend, we thought we would give a special shout-out to all our military brides this Memorial Day week.
Bella Pictures has been privileged to photograph many military weddings and we know that planning one can be tricky if you don’t know all the protocols – and finding the right information isn’t always easy. We want to share some of the beautiful moments we have captured over the years in our wedding photography, as well as tips and best practices we have learned from our amazing military brides and their families.
If you are in the military, you have the option of wearing your dress uniform just as the groom is required to wear his. The difference with the ladies is that you have the option of choosing to wear the dress of your dreams instead. We’re sure you have been busy adding beautiful dress over beautiful dress to your Pinterest inspiration board, so if it is your dream, why not take advantage of all those gorgeous ideas? We love the idea of a white dress with red lipstick and navy accents to really make that regal military look “pop”.
Military members within the wedding party typically wear full ceremonial dress uniforms with their military decorations serving as boutonnieres (so for the boys in uniform – no flowers for you). The color of the uniform will depend on the season; blue is typically used in the winter and white in the summer. Other items include white gloves and swords for those in the Navy and Coast Guard and sabers for those in the Army or Marine Corps.
If the groom wears a sword or saber, then the bride stands to his right at the altar in order to avoid the blade.
Bridesmaids get to wear what bridesmaids always get to wear…fabulous dresses in bright tangerine (or whatever color you decide). You can even mix up the colors for greater impact - a red, white and blue bridesmaid dress theme would make for some stunning wedding photos.
If you are having a more formal wedding, we have noticed that most brides seat their military members by rank and title so captains sit by captains and sergeants sit by sergeants. If you are not familiar with military ranks, it’s a good idea to learn them now – or at least the ranks of those attending – so you can introduce your military guests to the civilians in attendance.
The arch of sabers is what really sets a military wedding apart from a civilian service.
When the bride and groom leave the service and enter the archway lined by honor guards holding the ceremonial weapons, tradition dictates that as you pass through the arch, the last two bearers drop their sabers or swords, forming a cross to block the path. The groom then kisses his bride (make sure you hold it long enough for another super sweet picture).
The crossed swords are then raised for the couple to pass through. The bearer on the bride's side, as she passes by, gently swats the bride on the back side and says something along the lines of, "Welcome to the Army, Ma'am." Again, this is all done to your comfort, so decide together where (and if) you want to have the arch and if you want this particular welcome from the military.
One of the best (and potentially most funny) wedding photography moments is the cutting of the cake. And, of course, the military puts its own unique spin on this tradition. On command, the saber or cutlass bearers enter the reception room in formation in front of the wedding cake, facing each other. The bride and groom pass beneath the sword/saber arch again and approach the cake. The groom hands his new bride his unsheathed sword/ saber, and with his hands over hers, they cut the first piece of cake together. An incredibly romantic photo opportunity, if you ask us.
All weddings are special and one of the most important days a couple can experience in their journey together. However, military weddings – steeped in tradition, patriotism and emotion – have just a little something extra going for them and we salute all those brave brides and grooms taking the plunge together. Share with us your special day (you know we love the stories) in the comments section or on our Facebook page and we may feature your wedding here!
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