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My husband and I were married exactly one week after his commissioning. Fresh out of college and naïve to the military traditions; we had minimal military pomp and circumstance at our wedding (save for the fact my husband wore his uniform). We were also married in 2007 which was before Pinterest <insert gasp of disbelief here and envision the plain and boring wedding décor>. I wanted to know what other couple chose to do to honor military traditions at their wedding, so I asked the experts-fellow military spouses. Many of them did not know participating in some of the most popular traditions would be such a pain in the rear!


Sword/Saber Arch The arch seems to be the most memorable and obvious military tradition honored at weddings, the brides stories below made me chuckle.


  • We had a sword arch at our wedding. I wish I would’ve known it is ceremonial tradition in a Marine Corps wedding to smack the bride on the butt with a sword as the newlyweds walk through the arch of swords. There was no warning, and let me tell ya, it was quite a shock- Amanda

  •  I was going to say the same thing. He said ‘Welcome to the Marine Corps, Toots’ and smacked me. Holy moly that hurt! I was not expecting that. Kara from

  • Know that the ‘welcome to the Navy’ at the end of the arch of swords is not a love tap.... It’s definitely a smack! Ha!- Julie 
  • Me too! And I had 20 layers of crinoline under my wedding gown! A couple of the sword bearers didn’t have a sword, so we were able to borrow some from the Naval Academy since our wedding was in Annapolis. (Good tip to know!). Unfortunately, the belts to hold the swords were for size 30-31” waists. Needless to say, not all of our sword bearers were as slim as they were in their college days.... Luckily our ceremony wasn’t too long, so they didn’t have to suffer too long. –Eve

  • We even had an Air Force guy included amongst Army guys to have an arch. We start walking out, they cross the swords, we kiss again to lift the swords, and then traditionally one of the men says “welcome to the Army, ma’am” and smacks the bride on the butt. We decided to skip that part, and though a couple guys joked they would do it, I heard one of the groomsmen/sword arch guys say welcome to the Army but he didn’t smack me. As agreed!! You can make it your own. I got my husband a sword as a wedding gift and we cut the cake with it, which was SUPER fun. You can make it your own and take or leave whatever you want. One thing to note is that some churches may not want drawn swords in the venue.- Erin from


Cake cutting and Missing Man Table:

  • Cutting the cake with a sword! We also did the Missing Man Table, to honor of some very close friends. –Tara



  • This site touches on addressing invitations and details how to list military bride or groom on invitations.



Did you honor any military traditions at your wedding? Please share in the comments!


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if your a veteran and you want a saber arch are you elgible to have this ceremony. I'm a female veteran who served two tours in Iraq and got injured.

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Thank you for your service, nj3bro! My understanding is that you would still be able to have a saber arch. I would recommend reaching out to other veterans or active service members for additional guidance and assistance. Thanks for your membership! -Meredith