How to Plan a Military Wedding?

Feb 6, 2024 | Military Wedding, Wedding

Planning a wedding is an exciting yet stressful endeavor. When it comes to military weddings, there are even more considerations than non-military weddings that add a layer of complexity. Let’s take a deep dive together into all things military weddings. From understanding what exactly a military wedding is to incorporating symbolic traditions, this article will navigate through the essential steps and considerations to help you plan your dream military wedding.


What is a military wedding? 

First of all, what is a military wedding? A military wedding is a ceremony that involves a bride and/or groom who is part of the military. A military wedding encompasses traditions, may follow certain military protocols, will certainly include lots of military personnel wedding guests, and may have a cute military theme!

In addition, military weddings hold special significance, combining the celebration of love with the honor and discipline associated with military service. For example, a military wedding may hold extra significance as it may take place before or after a deployment.


Step 1: Understanding Military Protocols

To get started on the adventure that is planning a military wedding, the first step is gaining a comprehensive understanding of any applicable military protocols. This may involve notifying a commanding officer, checking service schedules, understanding when a wedding may take place according to any relevant rules, etc. It’s imperative to familiarize oneself with the proper protocol when planning a wedding to ensure there are no rules being violated.


Step 2: Coordination with Military Officials

Once a thorough understanding of military protocols is established, the next step in planning a military wedding is seamless coordination with military officials. This involves initiating open and clear communication channels with the relevant personnel, such as commanding officers. Obtaining necessary permissions and approvals becomes paramount, ensuring that the wedding aligns with military regulations and guidelines. Collaborating closely with military officials also allows for the smooth integration of ceremonial aspects, such as sword arch ceremonies or military salutes. 


Step 3: Get a Military Prenup

Getting a prenup as a military couple may be a good idea because we know that folks serving in the military industry have the highest rates of divorce. Prenups can also help facilitate communication on important topics such as financial expectations like budgeting, joint bank accounts, taxes, and more. Stepping into a marriage with clear boundaries and expectations set creates a stronger foundation for a lasting marriage. 

Plus, there are certain clauses that are important for military spouses to consider, such as life insurance requirement clauses and death clauses. These types of clauses benefit military spouses by ensuring they are protected in any scenario life throws their way.


Step 4: Choosing a Military-Friendly Venue

Selecting the right venue is another crucial decision in planning a military wedding, and opting for a military-friendly location can ensure your day goes smoothly. A military-friendly venue is one that not only accommodates the unique traditions and protocols associated with military ceremonies but also provides an atmosphere conducive to the celebration of love and service. 

Couples should seek venues with experience in hosting military weddings, as they are more likely to understand and facilitate the necessary logistical arrangements, such as space for a sword arch ceremony or military salutes. Moreover, a military-friendly venue adds an extra layer of authenticity to the celebration, creating a blend of civilian romance and military honor. 


Step 5: Military-Inspired Wedding Attire

For the bride and/or groom, this step is an opportunity to show off their commitment and service to the military by wearing their military uniform. Military wedding attire typically includes the most formal uniform (i.e., the US Marine Corps dress blues), plus any insignias, ribbons, and medals to reflect the wearer’s rank and achievements. 

Some couples may also want to add subtle military symbols into accessories, such as cufflinks, veils, or bouquets, creating a cohesive and visually striking representation of their love within the context of military service.


Step 6: Inclusion of Military Insignias and Symbols

The inclusion of military insignias and symbols in a wedding goes beyond the attire and may even extend into elements of the ceremony as well. For instance, the wedding invitations can feature the couple’s respective service branch emblems or insignias, setting the tone for the event. Another example might be, during the ceremony, the exchange of rings could be accompanied by a symbolic moment where the couple presents each other with specially designed military-inspired rings engraved with meaningful symbols.

Another idea would be to include reception decor adorned with military symbols, such as table centerpieces featuring miniature flags or place cards designed like military dog tags. This deliberate inclusion of military insignias and symbols not only adds a distinctive and personal touch to the wedding but also reinforces the dedication to service.


Step 7: Incorporating Military Traditions

Adding ceremonial military traditions to a military wedding is a no-brainer. One common military tradition seen in marriages is the sword arch ceremony, where service members form an arch with their swords, and the newlyweds walk out of the chapel under the arch. This symbolizes protection and well-wishing for the couple’s journey ahead. 

Another tradition may include incorporating a military salute during the exchange of vows, which further pays homage to the commitment shared between the couple and their dedication to the US military. 

Another tradition to incorporate may include playing the service anthems of the respective branches during key moments in the ceremony, such as while the groom walks down the aisle. 


Step 8: Planning Decor and Theme

This is where you can get a little bit creative. Adding military or patriotic themes to the decor can be a fun way to further incorporate the military into a wedding. Here are some examples and ideas: 

  • Use colors such as red, white, and blue or military branch specific colors, such as blue and white for the Navy colors
  • Include centerpieces with miniature US flags
  • Add camouflage-patterned items, such as napkins or goodie bags
  • Gifting personalized dog tags to all of the guests 
  • Including symbols such as anchors, wings, or military crests on the invitations
  • Making a wedding cake adorned with military insignia

No matter your wedding style (whether it be glam, formal, casual, country, or something else), there is a military decor and theme that will align with your taste!


Step 9: Reception Planning

The reception is a central component of a military wedding, and let’s face it, it’s the best part! There’s lots to do for this step, so here are the most important considerations for a military reception: 

  • Plan the menu, including main course and dessert
  • Ensure toasts and speeches honor the military service of the couple and guests
  • Foster a sense of gratitude and camaraderie among attendees
  • Organize the seating arrangement taking into consideration military colleagues
  • Curate a playlist that might include certain military songs or anthems
  • Incorporate military-themed decor, such as table centerpieces or cake designs.
  • Plan out any ceremonial events, such as the cutting of the cake with the sword

By addressing these reception planning aspects, couples can create a cohesive and memorable military reception that pays a fitting tribute to their union and military journey.

Other Considerations

That’s not all. There are plenty of other things to consider when planning a military wedding, such as wedding insurance, deployments, service obligations, budgets, and post-wedding tasks. 

Wedding insurance

Consider getting wedding insurance to prepare for any last-minute service obligations that pop up and require a reschedule of the wedding. Wedding insurance can cover part or all of the cost should the wedding be canceled or moved. 

Handling Deployments and Service Obligations

This one requires careful consideration and flexibility. Couples must anticipate potential challenges related to military schedules and the unpredictable nature of deployments. To navigate these uncertainties, it’s advisable to plan the wedding timeline with flexibility, allowing for adjustments if service obligations arise. For example, booking with a venue that offers priority wedding timelines for military couples that need that added flexibility. Additionally, couples may consider including video conferencing or live streaming options for deployed loved ones to participate in the wedding virtually. 

Budgeting for a Military Wedding

Don’t forget about that budget! Military couples should be aware of potential extra costs, such as uniform expenses or adherence to specific military regulations, that may not be present in civilian weddings. Our tip is to seek out military discounts from vendors, venues, and service providers is a practical approach to managing costs without compromising on the quality of the celebration. 

Post-Wedding Celebrations

When all is said and done, and you’ve tied the knot, the work and planning are not over! For instance, planning the honeymoon. Couples might choose a destination with military significance or plan activities that align with their shared military experiences. This could include visiting military landmarks and museums or even participating in events that pay homage to their respective service branches. 

Additionally, expressing gratitude to military guests through personalized thank-you gestures during post-wedding celebrations reinforces the appreciation for their presence and service. 


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, planning a military wedding involves a thoughtful blend of tradition, creativity, and adaptability. From understanding military protocols and coordinating with officials to incorporating meaningful elements like military-inspired attire and traditions, each step contributes to a wedding that uniquely honors both love and military service. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Planning a Military Wedding

You asked, we answered. See below for some commonly asked questions about how to plan a military wedding.

Q: Can civilians attend military weddings?

A: Yes, military weddings often include civilians as guests.


Q: How can we honor absent service members during the ceremony?

A: Consider symbolic gestures, like reserving a seat or displaying photos, to honor absent service members during the ceremony. If the loved one is deployed, consider video conferencing them in. 

Q: Are there specific military discounts available for wedding planning services?

A: Absolutely. Many vendors offer military discounts. Ask any vendor about potential discounts when selecting services for the wedding.

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