Being the nation’s capital and all, you know that we love our military brides and grooms! We adore and appreciate our of our active military and veterans, and especially our engaged military and their families for their sacrifice and dedication to this country. (And, it isn’t just because of those handsome grooms in uniform, although that does help!) We’ve featured lots of different types of military weddings over the years and this week we are taking it one step farther. In honor of this year’s Veterans Day, we are having a special military wedding week – we are talking all things weddings and military!

military-Wedding-Cake-Cutting

Photo Credit:  Melissa Arlena Photography from Margo and Mike’s Marine Corps wedding in Virginia

From what I’ve learned so far, there aren’t as many rules and regulations to a military wedding as one might think, just more traditions and things to be aware of when planning a military wedding. With this in mind, I asked some of the top wedding planners in DC, MD and VA for their best advice for military weddings. What do they tell their military couples? Is there anything special or particular that our brides and grooms in uniform should look out for or be aware of when planning their wedding? Here is what they had to say…

INSURANCE

“I would advise the client if they were active duty to get wedding insurance. You never know with deployment.” – Vicky, owner of Event Accomplished

“As you plan a military wedding, I would strongly suggest in investing in wedding insurance. If the wedding date has to be moved due to deployment or special assignment of the bride and/or groom, you want to make sure there is minimal financial loss.  Most vendors and venues will honor deposits made and move dates around, but what if not all of the vendors hired are available on the new date? Wedding insurance is priceless in this instance.” – Shawn, owner of TreBella Events

INVITATIONS

“Be mindful of military titles, which typically include rank and branch of service, when wording your wedding invitation. The format and the wording of the invitation are the same, but the use of titles is different. Military titles should not be abbreviated. When officers’ names are used alone, the name of their branch of service is noted on the line beneath their names. When their names are used with their spouse’s names, the branch of service is not mentioned.  If their ranking is a captain or higher, officers in the army, air force or marines will use their military titles before their names. Navy and coast guard officers with a rank of commander or higher also use their military titles before their names.” – Kawania, owner of Howerton + Wooten Events

ATTIRE

“Military weddings aren’t that different from any other weddings. There’s actually no official protocol to follow. There are, however, a lot of fun traditions that military couples may choose to incorporate, such as attire. Men may choose to wear their full dress uniform instead of a tuxedo or other suit. Women may do the same, but most brides and bridesmaids opt for traditional wedding apparel. Also, military personnel in uniform may not wear flowers, so no boutonnieres for those dashing gentlemen!” – Stephanie, owner of Pretty Entertaining

DISCOUNTS

“I always tell all of my clients that are in the military to ask for military discounts from their vendors.  We are a very pro military family town (in the Washington DC area) and I know our firm gives 10% discount off all our services to folks in the military.” –  Katie, owner of Elegance & Simplicity

“Don’t forget to ask every vendor if they offer a military discount, as most of them do or will if asked. – Courtney, owner of A Sweet Soiree

VENUES

“While a lot of venues have flexibility, if you’re having a military wedding on the base or academy grounds, book your military chapel a full year out. These venues are open to: a dependent of a graduate; an officer or enlisted person assigned to the academy complex, or his or her dependents; or a faculty or staff member, active or retired, or his or her dependents so they get busy, and fast.” – Candy, of Candy + Co. Events

“Take advantage of venues that are on military bases. For example, Fort Myer (in Arlington, VA) has a beautiful chapel and officer’s club for events.” – Courtney, owner of A Sweet Soiree

“Couples who are military will have many great customs and traditions they may want to include. From a logistical standpoint, if they are active duty, flexibility with date will be a big factor when choosing the venue and vendors. In addition, to thinking about the details and logistics is attire. Grooms may want to wear their military dress uniform for all or part of the wedding day, such as for photos and/or the ceremony.” – Margo, owner of Bright Occasions

“If you are having your wedding on a military base, be aware of the entry policies. Everyone should carry their ID with them, because you will likely be asked for it before entering the base. So if you’re a bridesmaid, don’t accidentally give it to your date while you’re taking pictures between the ceremony and reception!” – Heather, owner of HJ Planners

“If the wedding is held on a military base, usually IDs are required for all guests and to allow for plenty of time to account for going through security check points.” – Vicky, owner of Event Accomplished

“Military couples may choose to marry at a chapel on base and/or hold their reception at the officer’s club. Remember to book these facilities early in the planning process, as they tend to be in high demand.” – Stephanie, owner of Pretty Entertaining

SWORDS, SABERS AND SEATING

“Military weddings are a little bit different. Essentially couples need to be aware that each branch of the armed forces has different wedding customs that apply. Besides the groom wearing his military dress (if he’s a member of the military) two things that we find most common in all of the military weddings are that: (1) If the groom is wearing a saber or cutlass (with his white gloves) for the ceremony the bride will stand to the right of him instead of the left (to avoid contact with the blade – though this blade does come in handy when cutting the cake!); and (2) Special accommodation should be made to seat guests according to rank (i.e. all high ranking officials should be seated in positions of honor at both the ceremony (first two rows) and the reception (close to the couple).” – Candy, of Candy + Co. Events

“If there are sufficient number of military members in the wedding party, then the newly married couple may exit the wedding ceremony through an arch of ceremonial weapons. Officers hold a sword or saber; enlisted personnel hold a ceremonial rifle.” – Stephanie, owner of Pretty Entertaining

“If you plan to cut your cake with your sword or saber, ask your caterer to thoroughly clean it before putting it back in the scabbard. Otherwise, the sugar from the cake could ruin the blade and the scabbard.” – Heather, owner of HJ Planners

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A big thank you to all of the awesome wedding planners in the DC area that helped out with this post. Be sure to check each of them out on their websites, because they truly are the best in the business and would do wonders for your wedding! I look forward to seeing you all week long for our special military wedding week – it is going to be awesome!

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas and advice? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

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