The question often arises in the DC metro area as to the proper attire for the wedding party when certain members of the party are in the armed services. The following guidelines (provided by militarywives.com) are offered for military and non-military weddings where service members are a part of the bridal party.
Probably the main distinction of a military wedding is that the bride and/or groom, as well as service members in the wedding party, usually wear their uniforms. The type of uniform depends on the style of the wedding, the time of day, and the season:
- Evening dress uniform (blue in winter, white in summer) is worn for an ultra-formal wedding (i.e., a white-tie affair).
- Dinner or "mess dress" uniform is appropriate at a formal or semiformal event (comparable to black-tie).
- Dress blues or whites are worn for less formal weddings; they are equivalent to a nice suit or a cutaway coat.
- Any non-military wedding-party members simply wear traditional wedding clothes of the same level of formality as those in uniform.
Some additional tips:
- Bride and bridesmaids: The bride can wear her uniform (and so can any bridesmaids), but many military brides opt for a traditional white wedding dress. Bridesmaids might wear navy bridesmaids' gowns to complement the colors of the men's uniforms, or any other color dress the bride prefers.
- Groom and groomsmen: If any ushers are members of a different service than the groom (Army instead of Navy, for example), they simply wear a uniform of comparable formality to his. The groom and best man do not wear gloves because they will be handling the rings, but the other ushers wear white gloves throughout the ceremony. Boutonnieres are never worn with uniforms; instead, officers wear their military decorations.
- Parents: Should the fathers of the bride or groom be active or retired officers, they may wear uniforms. So may mothers, although they usually choose to wear traditional mother-of-the-bride attire.
- Guests: Military guests (active or retired) may wear their uniforms or traditional formal attire. Put "Full dress uniform invited" on the invites to request that your guests come in uniform.
Deb Merriner, Splash Consultant