Military weddings: Attire

Earlier this week, we discussed military weddings and a little about what makes them different from civilian weddings. The answer is not much except a few traditions, a few etiquette rules, and the attire. If your guests are in the military and are planning on attending a wedding, they will already know these rules, but for those of us who are civilians, I think it is interesting to know.

First, and I had to ask my ex-Marine husband to learn this, there is a distinct line between commissioned and non-commissioned officers. A commissioned officer will have the rank of Lieutenant (or its equivalent) or higher and normally have a college education. While a non-commissioned officer will have been promoted from the ranks of enlisted men. And if I have this wrong, gently correct me and I will proceed to yell at my husband and beat him with a wet noodle (and that is a joke, in case you were wondering).

Anyone who is a non-commissioned officer or of a lower rank can wear their standard dress uniform. But if you are a commissioned officer, your dress is a bit more complex. If the wedding is what is considered white tie, very formal, or an evening wedding a commissioned officer is encouraged (by the military, not us) their full dress regalia. If the wedding is held earlier in the day, is considered black tie, which is only mildly less formal, the officer is encouraged to wear a dinner uniform.

If you are woman and in the military, generally the rules above apply to you, unless the bride requests that you come in a formal evening dress (or other appropriate dress) and not in your uniform. This is especially true if you are in the wedding party.

One good thing about asking military personnel to stand up in your wedding and wear their uniforms is that your floral bill will be slightly smaller. The military does not allow anything not approved by the military to be added to their uniforms, and that includes boutonnieres. I learned this one a few years ago when a bride’s dad wore his Marine uniform and I tried to pin one on him. I had to apologize profusely; I did not know.

One last note on attire, which has more to do with everyone and not just the military has to do with informal and themed weddings. Most people who get an invitation to a wedding will wear a dress, since this has been tradition since time forgot, but today some people prefer to have an informal event or even to have a themed wedding were everyone is asked to wear a costume. If this is the case, please include a note to state such. It keeps people from assuming the wrong dress code.

Next week: Sword Arches, some general rules.


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