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Wedding bells are ringing, and your heart is beating with excitement. You are getting married! Whether your military wedding includes eloping, going to a justice of the peace, or having a civil service, church service, or military service, the Army family welcomes you! 

Michelle and her husband, Jim, were wed in their home state of Ohio, and their reception included some ethnic Greek traditions to include netted wrapped Jordan almonds as favors and her YiaYia’s homemade baklava. They did not have a military wedding at West Point; as Michelle says, “Jim did not want to look back at photos of himself in uniform on their wedding day if the Army thing didn’t work out.” Well, 34 years later, it all went quite well—Jim retired as a two-star general.

Ginger and her husband, David, had a traditional military wedding at the West Point Cadet Chapel. Their wedding was held during a homecoming football game because it was the only weekend David would be available to leave his basic course.  “We could hear the cannons fire when Army scored a touchdown.” Ginger was taken by surprise with the saber arch and especially the unexpected crossed sabers that halted their procession down the steps. Their groomsmen lined up in pairs and made an arch with the sabers for them to walk under after the ceremony. When they reached the end of the arch, the final sabers dropped to the ground. The family cheered for them to kiss, then her new brother-in-law wacked her on the backside with the admonition, “Take care of my brother.” They had a military cake and topper with a soldier and a bride. David departed the next day without Ginger to go back to finish his basic course and leave for his first assignment to Germany during the Cold War. They were not authorized concurrent travel at that time, and she joined him six months later after he had acquired temporary housing in the attic of an old WWII German Luftwaffe building.

Ginger’s daughter, an Army helicopter pilot, recently got married to an Airborne infantryman. The groom wanted to wear a tuxedo for his wedding, but there was a twist—the groomsmen that were Airborne qualified all wore their jump boots. Their daughter opted for the traditional, white wedding dress. One of the highlights was cutting the wedding cake with a saber. The bride held the sword with the groom’s hands over hers as they cut the cake together. As a nod to their Russian background, they included traditional songs, like a high-energy chair dance traditionally performed by lifting the bride and groom up in chairs. The groom left the next day for Italy to take battalion command without his bride as she had to fulfill her military commitment in D.C. before joining her groom.

Ann and her husband, Bill, had a more traditional wedding, although it was rushed due to the Army. They planned to take a few weeks after Bill graduated for the wedding and honeymoon, but then Bill received his Army orders to report two weeks after graduation. They had to rush everything—Bill was commissioned and graduated in the morning, drove two hours back to Atlanta, had the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that evening and wedding the next morning at an Army chapel, brunch reception at the officers’ club, and then drove off for a few days of honeymoon. Bill wore civilian clothes for the wedding; in fact, he probably didn’t even have his military uniforms then. 

As you can tell, there are many ways to celebrate a wedding and there is no such thing as “the” Army wedding. All weddings of service members are steeped in family, ethnic and military traditions, and probably the only thing in common is that they are unique based on backgrounds and a constantly changing calendar.

Your wedding day is one to remember and rejoice in beginning of a lifetime of memories for two individuals, military, civilian, officer, or enlisted. We wish this year’s brides and grooms the very best and a heartfelt congratulations!

We refer you to The Army Spouse Handbook for further guidance on military wedding traditions and protocol.

For more on military weddings, check out 5 Tips for Planning a Military Wedding.


  • Protocol and Etiquette Team

    Ann Crossley and Ginger Perkins are the authors of "The Army Spouse Handbook," the go-to guide for the 21st century Army spouse. The 440-page book describes situations that you may encounter as an Army spouse, irrespective of your spouse’s rank or assignment. The book is not meant to be read from cover-to-cover, but kept handy and used as a reference book when you need to know what to expect in social situations. Michelle Hodge, a seasoned spouse, has taught protocol and customs classes and continues to be an advocate for soldiers and family members. Lynda Smith, the newest member of the Traditions and Protocol team, enjoys finding new ways to bring old Army traditions to life with fun and humorous experiences, a little old-school vibe, and a modern twist.


  1. Sharita Knobloch

    Military weddings make my heart smile! My hubs wore his dress blues, and all of his groomsmen did as well. We even had little dog tag keychains with our wedding date, names and bible verse on it for wedding favors. Thanks for sharing these different approaches to all things military nuptials!

  2. Steve Evans

    Love the creative dress ideas with the military weddings. Great to see these ideas shared with other new military families.


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