How to Dress for a Military Wedding

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Weddings for U.S. Military service members follow both classic wedding customs and their own set of traditions. Requirements must be met for dressing the wedding party, especially the bride and groom. When it comes to guest attire, the same rules for civilian weddings apply, though additional care should be taken to ensure the utmost respect is shown for both the bride and groom, and the service. Different branches of the military have specific traditions that are often incorporated into wedding ceremonies, as well as their own specific uniform options.

The Bride and Bridesmaids

  • Brides who are in the service themselves are given the option to wear either their uniform or a traditional white wedding dress. Depending on her branch of the military, the bride may choose to wear her white summer dress uniform any time of year. There are no military stipulations regarding wedding dress style in terms of length or a strapless dress. This is typically determined by the bride, or the religious institution the couple chooses for their ceremony. Bridesmaids who are also in the service are not required to wear their uniforms and rarely do so. Maids in a military wedding generally wear traditional long or short bridesmaids dresses chosen by the bride.

The Groom and Groomsman

  • Grooms who are in the service are required to wear their uniform. They are then given the option of which uniform to wear based on the season as well as how formal their wedding will be. Groomsmen in the service must also wear their uniform, with the specific style left to the groom's discretion. Uniforms correlate to the specific branch of the service the groom and groomsmen are in, with the option to wear "Mess" dress uniforms for a formal or semi-formal wedding. These uniforms are typically navy or black for winter, and white for summer. As for groomsmen who are not in the service, a three-piece suit in a coordinating color to the service uniforms is perfectly acceptable.

Female Guest Attire

  • Ladies attending a military wedding should essentially follow the same guidelines as they would any other wedding. Unless clearly stated on the invitation, ladies should not dress any less formally than cocktail attire. This requires a dress or skirt with a knee-length hemline that is fitted appropriately. Attire that is too tight, short or revealing can be seen as disrespectful at any wedding, and even more so at a military wedding. Guests should always read the invitation closely for notes on attire, such as "black tie" or "cocktail" as well as the wedding venue. A church wedding with a hotel ballroom reception would be a more formal affair than a garden wedding. However, being slightly overdressed for an outdoor event is preferable in this situation.

Male Guest Attire

  • Male guests at a military wedding should always be dressed in a suit. For male guests in the service, it is acceptable to arrive in their uniform or a suit, depending on their personal preference. Guys invited to a military wedding who are not in the service should always wear a suit. The color should be darker for fall and winter weddings, in navy, black or charcoal grey. Lighter suits are nice for summer weddings; consider a light grey or khaki ensemble. Shirts should be a neutral, solid shade such as light blue or white. Keep accessories simple, too, with a classic striped tie and pocket square.

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