How to Dress for a Military Wedding

Members of the wedding party who are serving their country in the armed forces traditionally wear their uniforms to add an elegant and distinguished touch to the event.

Select uniforms based on the formality of the wedding. Dress uniforms are appropriate for a very formal wedding (equivalent to white tie); "dress blues" are a good choice for an informal wedding; and dinner or "mess dress" is best for more formal or semiformal weddings (mess dress is the military equivalent of a tuxedo).

Take the weather into account. Navy uniforms are usually worn in winter and white uniforms in summer.

Ask the ushers to wear white gloves, but the groom and best man should not, so that they can easily handle the ring.

Wear your sword (for navy and coast guard) or saber (for army and marines). Include military decorations in place of boutonnieres.

Ask members of the wedding who are not in the military to match the formality of your uniform with tuxedos or suits.

Decide between your uniform and a traditional wedding dress. If you choose the dress, select a very formal one that will complement the men's attire.

Wear a long train and veil. (For a second wedding, you can skip these accessories.)

Carry a bouquet.

Pick formal bridesmaids' gowns. Navy is usually a good choice because it looks nice with the men's uniforms.

Suggest that the fathers of the bride and groom wear uniforms if they are active or retired officers.

Allow mothers who are active or retired officers the option of wearing traditional mother-of-the-bride dresses or uniforms.

Military guests may wear either their uniforms or formal civilian attire if they are active or retired officers.


Some grooms choose to forgo the uniforms when not all members of the wedding party are in the military. This allows everyone to match. The bride stands to the right of the groom in a military wedding because he wears his sword on the left. Include "Full dress uniform invited" on your invitations to let your guests know the dress code.

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