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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sword Ceremony-A Romantic Military Custom

To me, there is nothing quite as manly and handsome and sexy as a man in uniform! So, I thought I would investigate the traditions unique to having a formal military wedding. One of those traditions is the Arch of the Swords (or Sabres). This tradition is so military and formal and full of pomp and ceremony and chivalry, I just had to tell you about it.

Arch of the Swords/Sabres: The tradition comes from both the American and the British in which the bride and groom pass beneath an arch formed with upraised swords. This arch is formed by uniformed officers as a means of ‘welcoming’ the newlyweds into the service. Strict protocol applies to the display and must be done in accordance with the rules specific to the bride’s or groom’s branch of military. Generally speaking, six ushers form the sword detail except in the Air Force. This branch prohibits the saber bearers from serving in any capacity other than the arch.

The Sword Ceremony takes place immediately following the closing blessing as the bride and groom turn to leave the chapel. The sword detail lines the aisle, doing so with sharp military bearing and in perfect form and unison. At the soft command of the leader, they raise their swords with one swift and continuous motion. The honor guard continues to stand at stiff attention while the bride and groom pass beneath the arch. As soon as the couple has cleared the archway, they pause with the sword detail behind them (and sometimes kiss). Then, again at a soft command and in perfect unison, the swords are lowered, and the couple continues the recessional. This same ceremony may take place as the couple passes into the reception area.

Cake Cutting:
The sword is also used to cut the cake. Again, strict protocol is adhered to. An officer lays the sword over his left forearm, cutting edge away from the body, hilt towards the bride. The bride takes the sword and cuts the wedding cake, with the groom's right hand resting over hers on the sword's hilt and with his left arm free to place around his bride. (Sigh) So romantic and chivalrous.

I like this so much, reader beware: It’s probably going to show up in a book someday!

I’ve never been to a military wedding but now I want to go! Have any of you ever been to one? If you live outside the U.S., does your military have any unique customs to share?

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Blogger Brandy said...

For some reason this makes me think of the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. *g*

November 14, 2008 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Linda Goodnight said...

Me, too, Brandy. And wasn't that a great movie!!

November 17, 2008 at 6:49 AM  
Anonymous kil bil swods said...

Such a nice and informative post. thanks for sharing with us.

March 22, 2010 at 5:05 AM  

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