There are many different types of weddings: from elopements, to interfaith weddings, to destination weddings, same-sex weddings, double weddings, you name it; each with their own loopholes, details and arrangements to be made before the big day. As a recently engaged wedding planner, I have just entered into the military wedding category, and let me tell you, it is life changing — and I’m not talking about just the “getting married” part!
To share a little of our background, I’m marrying my high school sweetheart. After going to separate colleges and triumphing through a long distance relationship, we have ended up in sweet old Pensacola for his Navy flight training. Being new to the area (of not just Pensacola, but a military bride) I have started doing personal research into this new world. And when I say “world”, I really do mean it. When you enter onto any military base in the U.S., they have everything that a small town would need to survive on for years. The entire area is filled with grocery stores, clothing stores, book stores, dentists, hospitals, gyms, you name it! The military wives Facebook page I’m a part of has shared info on seminars such as, “Military Engagement 101,” “Deployment and Difficult Adjustments,” and even, “How to Survive the Military Life.” So right away, I learned that marrying into the military was going to be a big adventure. An entire blog could be written just about military lifestyle…but today I am going to share about military weddings, as that is what we do best!
The western Florida panhandle is full of military as it is home to NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field in Milton, Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton, as well as several smaller bases. I have now worked many military weddings and come to find that they are absolutely magnificent.
So what’s different about a military wedding as opposed to other weddings? Oooh, where to start… I suppose as with any wedding, cost is a good place!
One of the first great differences is that if you get married on base, the Chaplains will do the ceremony free of charge (woohoo!). You can also save some extra money on your flowers as the military members in the wedding party cannot wear boutonnieres on their required-to-be-spotless uniforms.
Speaking of uniforms, all members invited to the wedding that are in any branch of the military should be dressed in full formal uniforms. This is a nice treat for your civilian friends, especially the single ones.
Finally, separate from cost but one of the biggest differences — and a huge tear jerker for the family — is the stunning salute of the Saber Arch that follows the ceremony. The story behind the Saber Arch is simply to welcome the new spouse into the military life. The commissioned officers will march out and stand facing towards each other with their impressive swords lifted high in the air. The new couple will stop and kiss as they pass through the arch, completing the symbolic safe passage into marriage. The service members will then chant words of welcome to whatever branch of service he/she has married into. This sword can also then be used to cut the wedding cake, which does tend to be a bit difficult because of the length!
In the midst of all of my personal research, it’s given me an even grander appreciation for the new life I’m entering into. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Enjoy some of these photos from past military weddings we have been lucky to be a part of. Each special in their own beautiful, unique way!
-Blog by Bridget Brown
-Photography Credits: Noel Nichole Photography, Aislinn Kate Photography, Zac Green Photography, Victoria Selman Photography (Teresa & Jake)