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In military weddings world-wide there is a traditional of the groom and bride walking through an arch of swords. Because the wedding ceremony is a religious one, many military chapels and civilian churches prefer that the arch take place outside the chapel, after the service. But in the US and UK the couple may choose to have uniformed ushers — without their weapons — line the aisle during the bride’s processional. For the sword or saber arch, six or eight service members line up in pairs on the chapel steps or along the walk. The bride and groom walk under the arch as they leave the chapel. Whether it’s a sword or a saber arch depends on the branch of service. In the US armed services Army and Air Force members carry sabers while Marine Corps (below left) and Navy (below right in dress whites)  members carry swords.

We’d like to have honored guests pass through such an arch with students each holding double blades aloft. As can be seen – or, more precisely, cannot be seen – in the US Navy image the swords are tough to photograph. Whoever photographed the US Marines took good advantage of the dark trees in the background. We would inclined to use sabers for visual purposes. There are at least three problems: (1) sabers are somewhat heavier than swords and (2) students would be holding TWO sabers and (3) we’d like to use 16 students (= a full class).  Part of the challenge is getting everyone, including the guest, into the boundaries of the photograph without losing focus on the guest and the saber-bearers furthest from the camera.

It appears to us that the US Marines are lined up centerline to centerline and the swords are held with the right wrist over the centerline at eye-level. On the US Navy photograph it appears that the two lines of sword-bearers are offset so that everyone holds the sword aligned with the right shoulder and the wrist above the level of the top of the head – the offset of the footing allows swords to be co-linear. We would likely use the US Marine spacing and the US Navy arm positions. We would likely NOT have as much space between sword-bearers. Some thought will have to be given to the horizontal distance between the two lines and whether it should be kept constant. There is also a vertical perspective to consider – should shorter students be closer to the camera.