Military Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Updated February 21, 2017

Military wedding etiquette shares many of the same guidelines as other types of weddings. Differences between military wedding invitations and civilian wedding invitations lie in the use of titles and ranks, and identifying branches of service. Other etiquette considerations include which officers to invite, seating of officers, and other traditions to incorporate into the ceremony and reception.

Use of Military Rank

Include the ranks of military personnel if either the bride or groom is a member of the military. Follow this same guide if the wedding host or any of the bride’s or groom’s parents are members of the military. For senior officers, the rank appears in front of the name; for junior officers, rank appears below the name. Exclude the rank if the individual is enlisted personnel in the military. Never abbreviate military titles; spell out the rank on the invitation.

Branches of Service

The branches of military service are included on the wedding invitation regardless of the rank (officer or enlisted personnel). The branch appears on the line below the person’s rank and name. The branch is spelt out in its entirety, including the phrase United States (e.g., United States Air Force). If the military personnel member is retired, this is indicated after the branch of service (e.g., United States Air Force, Retired).

Invitation Wording

Military wedding invitation styles follow the same patterns as civilian weddings. The wedding hosts, traditionally the bride's parents, appear first, followed by the bride then groom and his parents. If either parent is an officer in the military, use the appropriate rank. However when an officer's name appears with a spouse's name, the branch of military service is not included; identify only the military rank. If the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding, use their rank and branch of service.

Addressing Envelopes

If invited guests are members of the military, the recipients’ ranks are included. Address the outside envelope using complete names and spell out the military rank. Do not use abbreviations on the outside envelope. Abbreviations are used on the inner envelope; however, the military rank is not abbreviated. The branch of military service does not appear on either of the envelopes.

Other Aspects

For military weddings, the couple’s commanding officer and spouse receive an invitation to the wedding. Other staff officers and their spouses are also invited. Commanding officers and spouses are seated with the family or in the rows immediately behind the family. If the parents of either the bride or groom are not in attendance, the commanding officer and spouse are seated in the first row or pew.

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About the Author

Stephanie Maatta has been a writer for more than 10 years, with articles published in professional journals including "Library Journal" and "Reference Librarian." Many of her publications focus on professional development and career advising. Maatta holds a Ph.D. and Master of Science in library and information science from Florida State University.