by Katie Phillips, Guest Contributor
The first thing I did after my sweet Cheddar Bae Biscuit proposed was pull up my super top secret wedding pin board, called Sorry I’m Not Sorry, which also happens to be my favorite hashtag/life motto. He fully embraced my idea for “Top Gun” themed engagement pictures; which, TBH, I’d like to extend to the wedding so groomsmen can get in on some shirts optional/jeans required volleyball action post-reception.
Now that I am actively planning our wedding for realsies, I realize just how much time, effort and sweet moolah goes into that one Big Day; it doesn’t matter if you are eloping to Vegas or hosting 500 of your nearest and dearest.
If your own little Cheddar Bae is in the military, you already know that trying to plan around the military is like trying to stop your Great Aunt Edna from singing show tunes at your reception. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to hear a tone deaf elderly woman belting out her best Liza Minnelli impression, and you might as well learn to love it.
Planning a wedding in which one future spouse (or both) is a service member can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you’re holding super cute ideas hostage for your own secret pin board like Hans Gruber (“Die Hard”? Anyone?) or you’re officially planning your wedding, here are 3 tried and true tips every future military spouse needs to know:
Determine What Kind of Wedding You Want
This is the most important piece of advice I have received so far and I am gifting it to you. Seriously, write it down on a giant piece of paper and tack that bad boy up on your vision board.
When trying to plan a military wedding, a lot of couples settle for the easiest option. If you want a Justice of the Peace (JOP) wedding or a quick elopement, then, by all means, go for it!
But if your dream is to have a big wedding with all the trimmings, then don’t settle!
My fiancé and I have been cohabitating, but it is important to us to be married before we go to our next duty station, which is why we’re on an express engagement track and getting married in October.
Is it harder to plan a wedding in less than 6 months? Yes.
Can it be done? Abso-freakin-lutely.
We’ve compromised on a lot of the details so that we can have the wedding in under a year, but for us, compromise doesn’t mean settling for something less.
Buy the Wedding Insurance
For military couples, it’s especially important to consider wedding insurance because you never know when the military is going to unexpectedly pop up out of nowhere like your period on that Hawaiian vacation you took last year.
Deployments get moved up or extended, 2-week training sessions in Dubai get scheduled with little or no notice, and you’re left clutching what’s left of your bridal binder in tears.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
When you purchase wedding insurance, you’re protecting yourself financially.
Even if you’re doing a DIY or low-key wedding, no one wants to get stuck footing the bill for a party they can’t even attend. Basic wedding insurance covers things like deposits, rings, photos and even gifts, and it isn’t all that expensive when you consider the benefit of purchasing it – usually between $100-$300 depending on the policy.
Use Those Bennies
There are so many resources available to military couples tying the knot and they’re almost all FREE. Did you hear me? Those are the best words a bride could hear, besides maybe “I do.”
Often chaplains are able to perform weddings free of charge and on-base chapels are available at little to no cost for use during the ceremony.
For the reception, officers and enlisted clubs can usually be reserved for way less than that fancy-schmancy ballroom you had your eye on, and are just as nice. Just be sure to ask about the requirements of using these resources prior to committing to them; often, premarital counseling sessions are required by most chaplains before they’ll marry you.
This may be common sense to most of you, but you would be surprised how many people forget that non-military folks can’t get on base any time they want. If you choose to have your ceremony and reception on base, make sure to make arrangements with Military Police so your phone isn’t blowing up with frantic family members stuck at the gate. Make sure to include instructions for base entry in your invitations and on your wedding website to make sure there are no snafus on your big day.
For most couples, the biggest expense of a wedding is the honeymoon – but military couples, rejoice, and get thee on a Space-A flight for cheap. Hop a flight on base and literally travel to hundreds of destinations all over the world. The only downside to Space-A is that you may have to wait a while on flights or have downtime between flights, so make sure you allot for extra travel time.
So future military spouses go forth and plan the wedding of your dreams. If you want to hose the church in Pepto-Bismol pink, go for it. If you don’t want to invite your annoying cousin Melanie who can’t stop talking about her own wedding 3 years ago and how she never would have chosen these 2 particular shades of pink, kick her to the curb (and don’t give her information to Military Police, problem solved).
Haters gonna hate, hate, hate on something no matter what, so screw it. It’s your wedding, your special day, and the only thing that matters is that it is what you and your future spouse envisioned together.
What advice would you give to someone planning a military wedding? Share your tips and advice in the comments section.
Originally from North Carolina, Katie is relatively new to military life and is learning to enjoy this new lifestyle one day at a time. By day, she works for Access College Foundation, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged students apply and pay for college; in her spare time, Katie is a freelance blogger and writer. Stop by katierazer.com to say hello and keep in touch!