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wedding guard of honour

How to Perform the Wedding Guard of Honour as MC

As a wedding guard of honour is a popular wedding tradition, it will often fall on the Master of Ceremonies (MC) to organize and announce this particular moment. A wedding guard of honour is a touching way to honor the newly married couple as they exit the ceremnony or reception and symbolizes the support of their family and friends. Here is everything an officiant or MC needs to know about facilitating the guard of honor wedding exit.

What is a Wedding Guard of Honour

wedding guard of honour involves the bride and groom walking under an archway made by their wedding party, family members, or guests as they exit their wedding ceremony or reception. It is a symbolic gesture to “honor” their marriage.

Sometimes referred to as a Sabre Arch, crossed swords or sabres traditionally form the archway. However, it is more common nowadays for the guard of honor to be created by hands, canes, hockey sticks, oars, rifles, batons, or even sparklers!

The couple triumphantly walk underneath the arch, indicating the support of their community as they start their new life together as husband and wife. It makes for fantastic wedding photos, videos for the couple to treasure and is a key activity that you will oversee.

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wedding guard of honour

The History of the Guard of Honour

The tradition originated in the military and can be traced back centuries when a Guard of Honour would be assembled to salute and honor royal or high-ranking military officials. It was a way to show respect.

This tradition was adapted for weddings, whereby the couple who just pledged their love and lives to each other walk under an archway created by their family and friends.

It symbolizes the support of their community and well wishes for their marriage.

When Does the Guard of Honour Take Place?

The wedding guard of honor is one of the final rituals at the wedding and occurs immediately after the couple is pronounced married or at the end of the reception when they walk out of the venue.

It is the ceremony’s finale, as the newlyweds triumphantly exit the aisle, receiving congratulations and walking underneath the archway to their new life together. 

Who is Involved in the Guard of Honour?

No rules regarding who must be involved in forming the archway for the guard of honor are set in stone. Most often, it will include:

  • The wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen)
  • Immediate family members
  • The couple’s closest friends
  • Other honored guests

In military weddings, fellow service members will stand in formation with their swords or rifles drawn to create the arch.

Ultimately, it comes down to the couple’s wishes and who they would like to honor them in this way.

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Wedding Guard of Honour Script

As the MC, you must announce and direct the wedding guard of honor.

Here is a suggested script to facilitate this particular moment:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is the time of the night for the newly married couple to leave us! Please join me in congratulating Mr. and Mrs. [Couple’s name]!”

“At this time, I invite the wedding party and [names of other specific groups involved] to please come forward and form the guard of honor archway to honor the newlyweds.”

(Wait as the group assembles.)

“Friends and family, please rise as the bride and groom walk through the guard of honor on their way to their new life together!”

(Wait for couple to walk through and exit.)

“Let’s give them another round of applause!”

This script can be adapted based on the specific groups participating and the formality of the occasion. The key is to invite guests to rise, announce the couple, and ask the selected guests to form the archway.

A Sparkler Exit for Night Celebrations

wedding guard of honour

Sparklers are passed out to all the guests, and then they create a magical tunnel of light and sparks for the bride and groom to walk under, making for incredible photos and memories.

As the MC, you will announce something like:

“Please join our sparkler hosts in grabbing a sparkler to light and hold aloft as we honor the newlyweds with a sparkling guard of honor send-off!”

No matter what form the guard of honor setup takes, it will surely be a memorable moment for the couple and their guests to witness Guard of Honour in the News.

Tips for Organizing the Wedding Guard of Honour

As MC, you play an important role in ensuring the wedding guard of honor runs smoothly. Here are some useful tips:

  • Discuss plans with the couple in advance so you understand their vision.
  • Recruit helpers to assist in organizing groups and passing out sparklers/items.
  • Make announcements 5 minutes prior to cue guests and explain expectations.
  • Have a rehearsal with a wedding party and family if using an intricate formation.
  • Use ushers to guide guests into position gently.
  • Check sight lines so the couple and camera person can pass through easily without obstruction.
  • Set a brisk pace for the couple’s walk to upbeat recessional music.

Thank all participants and acknowledge their role in celebrating the newlyweds.

Guard of Honour Ideas to Inspire You

Beyond the traditional sword arch and sparklers, here are some more unique guard of honor ideas:

  • Friends raising lacrosse sticks or field hockey sticks
  • Couple walking under oars held by crew teammates
  • Bridesmaids circling, holding ribbons
  • Guests lift large flower hoops for couples to walk through
  • Cheerleaders with pom poms forming the corridor
  • Farewell through a bubble-blowing aisle

Get creative with your couple to choose an option that fits their interests and personalities. The guard of honor is all about customizing a meaningful farewell.

Adapting Tradition with Modern Flourishes

A major appeal of the guard of honor is integrating modern personal touches into a time-honored tradition. You can blend old and new by:

  • Having bridesmaids hold floral hoops wrapped in military ribbons.
  • Friends wearing military hats backward as they hold up sparklers.
  • The couple walks through hockey sticks adorned with flowers.

Work with your couple to brainstorm fun adaptations that infuse their personalities. This transforms a historic ritual into something fresh and contemporary for modern weddings.

guard of honor wedding


The wedding guard of honor is a time-honored tradition for honoring the newly married couple as they embark on their new life together. As the Master of Ceremonies, being prepared with a script and understanding the logistics will ensure you properly facilitate this special moment. With crossed swords, sparklers, or simply hands, the guard of honor is a touching symbol of support and community for the bride and groom.

Special Thanks

Photographer: James Day
Celebrant: Marry Us Gary

Wedding Guard of Honour

Gary is dedicated to ensuring that wedding officiants and wedding emcees like you excel in creating unforgettable wedding experiences! With a passion for celebrations, he is an enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and fun Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC, operating in Australia.
Count on Gary to provide expert guidance and a relaxed approach to help you deliver remarkable ceremonies and receptions. His goal is to empower you to curate the best possible wedding day for couples, where every detail is thoughtfully arranged, and the party atmosphere is electrifying!