2009 San Antonio Riverwalk Weddings * Military Wedding Information

Wow! It is spring and the wedding bells ring! The Marriage Island located in the San Antonio River on the Riverwalk is located just down the Riverwalk from the Westin Riverwalk Hotel. The Island has been used for Religious Services for over 300 years. The first Catholic Mass held in San Antonio was held on the Island. The island has also been used by most other denominations at one time. This includes Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, & Methodist over the past 250 years as a meeting place to hear the gospel. The Marriage Island is one of the most beautiful wedding spots in the State of Texas. Several photos are shown on the website of past Riverwalk Weddings.

Weddings may be officiated at any San Antonio location. Outdoor and backyard wedding make for a real cozy setting. We have served people from all areas of San Antonio, New Braunfels, Gruene, and Universal City. Churches available for rent if you require a Church Wedding.

Military Weddings for members of all Bracnches of the United States Military. We have officiated weddings at the Fort Sam Houston Chapel, and the Lackland Air Force Base Chapel. Father Louis Bernhardt is a Member of the United States Chaplain's Service, and serves as State Commander. Father Louis also serves as a Member of the Board of Govenors for the Texas Association of Wedding Officiates for 2009.

There are many options for your Riverwalk Wedding. You may charter a Riverboat for the Wedding Meal. Live Musicians available to play your favorite songs. You may have a friend or family member read a poem! You may write your own vows that you speak to each other during the celebration.

Children from previous marriages may be included in the ceremony. The Minister would present each child a ring or other memento that the couple furnishes. This officially makes the child a part of the celebration and a member of the new family.

Rules for Military Weddings at Militarty Chapels & West Point.

Every wedding requires special planning, but a military wedding calls for some specific traditions that may be unfamiliar to a civilian bride whose mother or mother-in-law did not have to consider such a ceremony.

Marilyn Sharp, wife of Colonel Dan Sharp (retired), gives this advice on how to smooth the way to a perfect military wedding. "The most important thing to do is to plan as soon as you becone engaged, and don't feel silly checking two or three times with the caterer or florist." Mrs. Sharp said that it was not uncommon to have the wrong flowers and wedding cake end up at the wrong wedding. Part of the problem with simple services, like hotels, caterers, and florists at the academies, is that there are so few of them. West Point, for example, has only one hotel in the nearby town. Many people come each year to West Point for graduation and weddings in June, so hotel reservations must be made as early as February.

Mrs. Sharp's husband graduated from West Point in 1951 and retired from the service as the deputy commandant at West Point. Being the wife of the deputy commandant, she helped the cadets plan their weddings and recalls having attended eight military weddings in one day! Any enlisted man or officer can have a military wedding in full-dress uniform. Like anything having to do with the military, there are certain guidelines that pertain to all military weddings, regardless of wether they are held at one of the academy chapels or in a civilian church.

A military wedding is a formal affair. Your fiance and his military friends wear their dress uniforms and white gloves. Boutonnieres cannot be worn on a military uniform. If there are any civilian ushers, they should wear cut-aways, strollers, black or dark-colored suites. Your father, if he is not in the military, should do the same.

Invitations to a military wedding read almost the same as those for a civilian wedding. However, you should include your fiance's rank and branch. For instance, instead of John Smith, you would put, Lieutenant John Smith, U.S. Army.

The saber arch is one of the things that makes the military wedding so special. During the recessional, the bridge and groom walk under an arch made by the ushers or designated saberbearers. This is also the most photographed part of a military wedding. A good rule of thumb is to have four to six saberbearers in your wedding party: they can serve as ushers or can be separated from the ushers. It looks nice to have the same number of bridesmaids as saberbearers, but this is up to you.

Commanding officers should always be seated according to their ranks. Your ushers will probably, if they are in the service, know how to do this. Other officers may sit anywhere. The chaplains at each of the military academies have provided a summary of their own specific rules.
United States Naval Academy: Annapolis, Maryland. The following people can be married at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel: Naval Academy graduates, active or retired, and their children; military personnel assigned to Annapolis, and
their children; Academy faculty, active or retired, and their children; and military personnel retired with pay, and their children who regularly attend the Academy Chapel.

Weddings are scheduled through the senior chaplain's office, which can be found in the wedding handbook. Weddings can be held Monday through Saturday from noon to 4:00 P.M. except for the week of commissioning. After the application has been received, you will be issued a time for the rehearsal and wedding.

During commissioning week, the Chapel is reserved for the graduating midshipmen only. The scheduling for their weddings is usually different from weddings at other times. For information on commissioning week weddings, you should contact the office of the senior chaplain.

Only Naval Academy chaplains will peform weddings in the Naval Academy Chapel, and the Academy chaplains advice premarital counseling before a couple are married in the Chapel. If you live far away from the Academy, the chaplains
will suggest a counselor.

The arch of swords, as it is called in the Navy, takes place in the Chapel steps. Since the Chapel does not supply swords, your party must furnish them.

Music for the wedding is the responsibility of the director of musical activities at the Naval Academy. Only appropriate sacred music can be used. Soloists and guest instrumentalists are not encouraged at the Chapel.

Pictures can be taken in the Bride's Room, in the sacristy, and outside the Chapel before the ceremony. A flash may be used during the processional and the recessional. Pictures may be taken in the new nave during the ceremony, including the balconies, without flash. No pictures may be taken in the Chapel after the ceremony unless the weather is inclement.

Flowers for the Chapel are provided by the Chapel Altar Guild. These flowers cannot be removed from the Chapel after the wedding. Flowers for the members of the wedding party are the responsibility of those getting married.

Rice cannot be thrown inside or outside the Chapel. Be sure to inform your guests of this restriction.

There are rooms for last-minute preparations at the Chapel, but at the beginning of the ceremony everything should be removed from these rooms.

A mininum contribution should be made to the Protestant or Catholic Chapel. This is to be paid when you submit your application: it helps to defray the cost of marriage books, candles, flowers, and music.

United States Air Force Academy: Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Academy has two different chapels and a different booklet for each.

The Protestant Chapel can be used only by graduates of any military academy and active-duty military personnel assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and their dependents. This is an Academy regulation. Chaplains that are assigned to the Academy normally preside over the wedding, but in special circumstances other clergy may officiate. Premarital counseling is mandatory for all marriages, beginning at least thirty days before the ceremony.

Rehearsals should be scheduled with the chaplain. Flowers are to be provided by the wedding party, and should be delivered to the Chapel. White runners are not allowed because of the highly polished floor.

The Chapel provides candles and kneeling cushions for the bride and groom. Sabers and baldrics (holders for the sabers) are available at the Chapel, too. However, they cannot be removed.

Pictures may be taken with a flash only during the processional and following the benediction. Pictures of the religious portion of your wedding may be taken from the balcony only. Flashbulbs are not allowed at that time.  Flashbulbs may be used during the arch of sabers. There will be time after the wedding for pictures.

In the interest of time, a reception line cannot be formed at the end of your wedding. Weddings at the Chapel must also begin and end on schedule.

Nothing--rice, confetti, or flower  petals--can be thrown either inside or outside the Chapel (mainly for safely reasons).

Military chaplains do not receive fees for their services. Donations can be given, but there is no charge for the use of the Chapel.

The Catholic ceremony is relatively the same. However, there are a few differences.

Catholics need a copy of their record of baptism from the church where it was performed. This needs to be issued six months prior to the ceremony. A questionnaire must be filled out in the presence of a priest. If the marriage is interfaith, special counseling on the responsibilities of being Catholic is required before the ceremony. For all couples marrying in the Catholic Church, attendance at premarital sessions is required. You must also obtain permission from your pastor to be married in any church other than your own parish. Sabers are not permitted inside the Catholic Church.

United States Military Academy: West point, New York. West Point does not have a bride's handbook, but Chaplain Louis Bernhardt offers some tips for brides who want to be married at West Point.

According to Chaplain Louis Bernhardt, the bride must bring to West Point everything that the party will need. If you are marrying a graduating cadet, he will draw lots several months before the event to determine what time your wedding will take place during June week. Weddings begin one hour after graduation and run continuously throughout the week. There are three chapels at the Academy and one Jewish Synagogue.

Chaplain Louis Bernhardt said that the hardest thing about having your wedding during June week is finding a place to stay. There is one hotel in Highland Falls; and it is booked early in February because of all the wedding parties and all of the parents and relatives who plan to attend graduation. You should make
reservations at the hotel for your entire wedding party as soon as you know the date. Follow this immediately with a call to the officer's club about the reception. It is very important that you include a "reception following" card with an R.S.V.P. on it so that you know the number of guests to expect.

Order the flowers from the florist early and recheck to make sure that there is no mix-up as to the time and place.  Photographs depend on the church--you will have to ask the chaplain of the chapel you have chosen. Rehearsals are set by appointment. First, you should check on any special rules that your church might have on the drawing of sabers.
Planning a military wedding is basically no different from planning any other type of wedding, until the conclusion. The recessional proceeds like this: The bride and groom leave the church first, followed by the bridesmaids and seaberbears. When the bride and groom reach the back of the church, they step aside to let the wedding party and congregation leave. After everyone is out of the church, the saberbears form two lines facing each other to form an arch of sabers. According to officers who have had military weddings, the saber arch should be practiced before the wedding. Make sure that officers participating in the saber arch leave enough room between them so the bride and groom can go under side by side.

The commands for the arch are as follows: Sabers are carried in the "carry draw" position. At the command of "draw sabers," the arch is formed. Each bearer raises his right arm with saber in hand rotating the arm until the blade is on top. If the saberbears bend their wrists, they should have a true arch. At the command, "return sabers," the saberberars return their sabers to the "carry draw" position. Your saberbears should know what the "carry draw" position is: if the are unsure, it is partially in the baldric and partially out.

Only the bride and groom may walk under the saber arch.

One special tradition at a military wedding reception is that the bride and groom cut the first piece of cake with the groom's saber. The groom places his hand on the hilt of the saber (the handle) and the bride guides the blade.

A military wedding can be as modern or as traditional as you want to make it. Concluding with the arch of sabers adds an especially memorable touch for you and your officer husband.

For the last 15 years Father Louis has been know as the "Riverwalk Pastor" and he continues to this date! Father Louis is Ordained by:

The Anglican Rite Old Catholic Church * Consecrated Bishop 1996 *

Call Father Louis at 832-569-2014.

Source by Father Louis Bernhardt, OSA

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