With the military lifestyle, it’s hard to plan out a wedding. Instead, many of us get married in a courthouse. Then we often come to the realization that we will never have a wedding. Or if we do, it won’t be special.
By the time my husband and I got engaged, he was about to commission into the Air Force. Bad timing. Seven months seemed like enough time to plan a wedding, but we didn’t have the money.
I spent all my free time looking for inexpensive venues, trying to budget, and settling on a date. I couldn’t figure anything out. I actually cried to my fiancé several times thinking our wedding wasn’t going to be what we wanted.
Not only did I have the stress of planning a wedding, I was stressed about the what-ifs. What if we aren’t married when he commissions? Where will I live? Can I go with him? What if we can’t have our wedding before we move? What if the military interferes with our wedding plans?
My head was spinning. Planning a wedding wasn’t fun. It was possibly the most stressful thing I had ever done due to the challenge of working around the military. Plus, I had thoughts in the back of my mind of meeting a deadline that I didn’t even know at the time. (You know what I mean.)
Then, we decided. We would get married in the courthouse.
I know. It sounds so unromantic and uneventful. But, it made things significantly less stressful and easier. I would no longer have to worry about being able to be with my fiancé. I also was given several benefits that I wouldn’t have been able to provide myself. (e.g. Health Insurance)
We kept it a secret from most of our family and friends. Only our closest friends and family knew we got married, so this helped it not seem like a huge deal. I didn’t change my name. I didn’t even feel married.
Then, we made the decision to hold off the wedding for another year. Instead of having it in 2013, we would have it in 2014. This gave me more than a year to plan our wedding, so I was able to plan the wedding, get settled at our duty station, and find a job.
Not only did I have a blast planning our wedding, we were also able to save up enough to pay for our entire wedding in cash. I won’t lie. The wait was difficult. As the BIG DAY got closer, I was getting more and more nervous. Would this wedding be worth it? We were already married for a year. Would it still be special?
The answer was yes.
It was a long road, but it was worth it. Our decisions made things easier for both of us. Our wedding day was PERFECT. Not only was it what we wanted, it was special sharing that moment with family, friends, and with each other. We not only have the memories, we have the pictures showing the joy of our occasion. We were able to have the best of both worlds: starting the military journey together and having the wedding of our dreams.
If you are still dreaming of a white wedding, keep in mind that it’s never too late. It’s not the paperwork that makes it special; it’s having your friends and family there with you to witness your special day.
Victoria Ellis is new to the military lifestyle. She’s a Georgia Southern University grad and a Public Relations enthusiast who works as a Social Media Editor for small businesses.When she has free time Victoria volunteers at the USO center to support other military service members.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Henderson AuburnHeritagePhoto.com.