Swords at a Tri-Service wedding arch of Swords

Your sword is part of your uniform, would you consider binning your RN uniform and wearing RAF uniform just to look the same? The best man is usually too busy to look after swords but if some of the guard do not have their own then someone borrows some from the guardroom, and then has a very, very keen interest on returning them as he is responsible for them!

It is possible that what he was referring to was carrying out the same sword drill rather than three different ones, if (and I do not know) it differs, which would make sense.

Have fun!
I've been to a few tri-service weddings and everyone in the arch used the sword of their own service.

Quite why the crabs need swords is beyond me though.

You could suggest that, since the RN is the Senior Service, everyone should use a Navy sword . . . :wink:
You use your own sword and because he's your mate and it's his other half's big day you resist the temptation to run the arrogant crabfatii (plural) through...
StixJimboRM said:
If you are the only RN officer, then it should be you who gives the order to draw and return swords, as you are the senior service representative, that will get the back up of the crabs in attendance!!! :D :D
Would it not go on rank and seniority? (don't tell them that - excellent advice from Jimbo!)
We hold the right of the line. I piss*d off a Guards RSM by marching my platoon of scruffy arsed matelots to his right, dressing off and asking him politely to move along....

However, the Groom may have a request that one of his oppo's do it; find out his wishes and do as he asks. It's not your day, it's his (or actually, his missus!), so don't be too much of a c*ck.
The 'Senior Officer Present' is the senior officer present, irrespective of service except on board a ship where the Captain has supreme authority. All other things being equal, the RN is the senior service.
deusex said:
Should a member of the RN taking part in the "Arch of Swords" at an RAF wedding use a RN or RAF sword?
Most members of the RN at an oppos wedding would welcome the bride or her maids with a Pork sword.
You know it makes sense. :wink: :D


Hmm - as an Officer Cadet do you know how to use a sword - and are you entitled to (as technically not Commissioned yet)?

I was the Guard Commander at a mate's wedding a couple of months ago. Mainly RN, 1 Army guy. It was done in the manner of the Senior Service, of course. The ceremonial BR has a specific chapter on how to form a wedding arch. Specifically, you are not allowed to wear a buttonhole. The Best Man is not the person to run the guard - he will be far too busy doing other things, plus the guard has to be formed up during the last hymn when the Best Man will still be at the front of the Church.

The more junior Officers are nearer the Church, getting more senior as the arch progresses.

You will all need to meet up before the wedding to work out where to leave swords during the ceremony, and bash out how you're actually going to do it (are you going to draw swords by numbers or individually, who is going to get the arch (usually just the wedding party - if all the guests walk through your arm will be pretty sore), and what is the timing going to be, and others!). I would imagine that if the Guard Commander is in the RAF then the arch will follow RAF drill (whatever that is). Said person will probably sort swords from a local armoury - I suspect you will have to make your own arrangements to get an RN sword and belt.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
I have seen an RM officer with a leg in plaster use his crutch (no, niot THAT crutch) instead of a sword. Otherwise, silly qn.
0421. Guard of Honour at a Wedding Ceremony - Wedding Arch
The forming of a Wedding Arch is customary though not official, therefore the following
drill is advised. Officers forming the Guard of Honour should, on arrival at the church, leave
their swords in the porch under the charge of a junior officer or an usher. On completion of the
wedding ceremony, when the Bride and Bridegroom have entered the vestry to sign the
register, the Guard of Honour leave the church and form up outside, either side of the church
doorway in two ranks facing inwards. The Guard of Honour is brought to attention by the
Officer in Charge, dressed with full arm intervals and given the order to draw swords. The
Officer in Charge of the Guard of Honour should be in a position where he is able to see into
the church and observe the Bride and Bridegroom as they make their way towards the church
door. Senior Officers of the Guard of Honour should be outboard and furthest from the church
doors. When the Bride and Bridegroom are approximately 6 paces before they exit the church
door, the order 'Guard of Honour, Form - Arch', is given by the Officer in Charge. At this order
swords are brought to the Recover (Fig 4-21) and then held out at the full extent of the right
arm at an angle of 45° at the same time rotating the sword anti-clockwise (as seen from the
bearer) to the left so that the basket and cutting edge being uppermost (Fig 4-22 and Fig 4-
23). The points of the sword blades should be just touching and not crossed. When the Bride
and Bridegroom having passed through the arch, the order 'Guard of Honour, Carry - Swords',
is given by the Officer in Charge, and the Guard of Honour return to the position of the 'Carry'
via the 'Recover' (see Note 1). The Officer in Charge then gives the order 'Guard of Honour,
Dismiss', the Guard of Honour turn outwards away from the church doors, dwell a pause of 2
marching paces and independently return swords.
Sequence of Events (typical)
a. Form up (When the Bride and Bridegroom go to sign the register).
b. Attention, Dress, Draw swords.
c. Form Arch (For the Bride, Bridegroom and Bridesmaids only).
d. Carry Swords (via the Recover).
e. Dismiss (return swords independently).
1. Sustaining the position of the 'Arch' for long periods is difficult, therefore it is
recommended that the 'Arch' is only held during the time that the Bride and Bridegroom and
Bridesmaids appear beneath it. When the Bridesmaids have moved away from the end of the
'Arch' for photography, the Guard of Honour should be brough to the carry. It is advised that
an Usher be made responsible to stop the remainder of the congregation passing through the
'Arch' until the Guard of Honour has been returned to the Carry. The Guard of Honour should
be dismissed when all the congregation have filed past them.
2. A visit to the church by the Officer in Charge is strongly recommended beforehand to
establish; the position of the Church doors, the aisle of the church in relation to the doors,
situation of the porch, objections (or otherwise) by the officiating clergy to the leaving of
weapons (swords) inside the church and any other points of detail which may effect a
successful Guard of Honour.
3. For a Senior Rates Wedding, cutlasses may be used to form the Arch.
BR 1834 has been out for while. Read QRN's today as well. I didn't know that one still has to obtain permission of the CO to get married.
Thank god it was down in writing. First wedding I was part of the Guard of Honour nodoby knew the drill and we didn't know to do the vital bit about "rotating the sword anti-clockwise (as seen from the bearer) to the left so that the basket and cutting edge being uppermost". This actually locks your arm in place and makes it a lot easier to keep it up there. This is especially important while the photographer takes photographs, and then the rest of the congregation go under before the OC has a chance to bring the Guard back to the carry. It is therefore vital (especially if you have female members in the Guard) to heed the bit about "It is advised that an Usher be made responsible to stop the remainder of the congregation passing through the 'Arch' until the Guard of Honour has been returned to the Carry."

Thus the second one I did I brought along these instructions which was fortunate as the pongo OC (twas a tri-service Arch) had no idea what the drill should be.

As an OC you can carry a sword, just without the Sword Knot which IIRC is only attached after passing out of BRNC.

Definitely don't carry an RAF sword - they are quite similar (the key difference being the lack of a scabbard lock) but they have to wear gloves to carry it - not something that would look good in your No 1s!
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