The Wallflower Photography Blog


Photo of Army officers sabers (swords) at wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

We have a significant military presence here in the Tacoma area. Just a few miles south is huge Joint Base Lewis McChord, home to both the Army and Air Force, as well as Madigan Army Medical Center. A National Guard base (Camp Murray) is right next door to them, and Naval Base Kitsap is only a half-hour drive away. So, not surprisingly, we’ve had the privilege of photographing quite a few military weddings over the years. In fact, we’ve had four weddings this year alone in which either the bride or groom had some sort of military affiliation.

We’re proud of our brides and grooms in the service, and honored to photograph their weddings. Plus, the military has some pretty cool wedding traditions! Not many people get to wield a sword these days, after all. And that’s what this Focal Point post is all about.

We start with Cheryl and Bobby’s Thornewood Castle wedding, which we just recently recapped. Bobby’s groomsmen were all equipped with personalized sabers — you can see Bobby’s above. While the guys didn’t carry their sabers the entire day, they did bring them out for a few key moments, starting with the wedding party’s portrait session. Acknowledging that modern-day military sabers are throwbacks to an era when hand-to-hand combat was common, this first photo below of the groomsmen utilizes a digital tintype effect and no-smiles posing to pay homage to that long-ago time. It’s followed by a much more modern wedding party portrait on the steps of the castle’s sunken garden.

Antiqued photo of Army officer groosmens with their sabers (swords), with digital tintype effect applied, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of wedding party, including Army officers with sabers, before a wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

The saber arch is a popular ceremony in military weddings worldwide. It’s an honor usually scheduled very soon after the conclusion to the wedding ceremony, although Cheryl and Bobby delayed theirs so they could enjoy part of their cocktail hour and sign their paperwork. Then the DJ introduced each member of the wedding party as they came down the master staircase, and the groomsmen began forming a line, so that by the time it was Cheryl and Bobby’s turn, the saber arch was already in place.

In this tradition, all sabers are up as the bride and groom pass under them, until they reach the last pair of groomsmen, who lower their sabers to block their path. A kiss is required to regain passage. Then, as they pass by, the groomsman to the couple’s left gives the (usually unsuspecting) bride a swat on the rear with the flat of his saber. Hilarity ensues.

Photo of bride and Army officer groom about to pass under a saber arch in the Great Hall at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and Army officer groom kissing after they were stopped under a saber arch in the Great Hall at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride about to get swatted on the rear by a saber after passing under a saber arch in the Great Hall at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride reacting after being swatted on the rear by an Army officer's saber in the Great Hall at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

At Sonya and Warren’s 2009 wedding, the saber arch was formed outside the doors of Holy Disciples Church while they were signing their marriage license in a side room. As Warren is an officer with the Marines, the sabers are a bit different (Army saber vs. Marines saber), but the ceremony remains much the same.

Photo of bride and Marines officer groom about to pass under a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and Marines officer groom kissing under a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and Marines officer groom passing under a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride about to be swatted on the rear by a saber while passing through a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride reacting just after being swatted on the rear by a saber while passing through a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride still reacting after being swatted on the rear by a saber while passing through a saber arch outside Holy Disciples Church in Puyallup, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

The saber usually makes an encore appearance when it’s time for the bride and groom to cut their wedding cake. What more awesome knife to use than this?

Photo of bride and groom about to cut their wedding cake with an Army officer's saber in the Great Hall of Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and groom cutting their wedding cake with an Army officer's saber in the Great Hall of Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and groom about to cut their wedding cake with a Marines officer's saber in the Venice Ballroom at Hotel Murano, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and groom cutting their wedding cake with a Marines officer's saber in the Venice Ballroom at Hotel Murano, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Detail photo of saber being used by bride and groom to cut their wedding cake in the Venice Ballroom at Hotel Murano, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo of bride and groom laughing as they use a saber to extract a slice from their wedding cake in the Venice Ballroom at Hotel Murano, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Here’s hoping for more military weddings in 2012!

One Response to “Focal Point: Military sabers in weddings”

  1. Fiona Walker

    What fun traditions! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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