Many of us grew up dreaming of our wedding day. From big white dresses in Gothic looking churches to destination beach weddings where shoes are optional, we all have our idea of the “perfect wedding.” So when your Prince Charming finally popped the question you were sure you knew where to start on planning that dream day. What none of us planned on was the military getting involved!
I’ve heard so many stories of weddings being pushed backed, moved up or put off because of deployment, TAD orders, schools that just pop at the last moment or a PCS that wasn’t exactly planned. It’s the first experience many have with the commonly heard phrase that, “if the military wanted us to have a spouse they would have issued one in our seabag.”
Because of the unknown schedules of our military members, there are many couples that choose to go a non-traditional route when it comes to their wedding. I’ll never forget a friend calling me on a Thursday to tell me she was engaged and calling again Monday to tell me she was married. I was so surprised at the speed that all I could say was congrats and please tell me you didn’t wear jeans. The courthouse wedding she had is so common in the military community and people rarely bat an eyelash when you tell them you didn’t have a big wedding. My husband and I decided to elope when we realized I’d be stuck in a-school for an undetermined amount of time and he might deploy before we could plan a “real wedding.”
I stand by that being the best decision we ever made, but I know a lot of people who feel like they were cheated out of the wedding experience by doing the quickie wedding. For those people the subject of a vow renewal or reception event comes up in conversation. Much like planning a traditional wedding there are a lot of things to consider if you’re looking at the vow renewal:
WHOSE IDEA IS THIS ANYWAY?
For people looking into a vow renewal, it’s important to decide who you are throwing it for. Is it because you and your spouse feel as though you missed out on the event? Are you getting pressured by your family because they feel left out after you eloped? Is it your Pinterest board full of ideas that never got used prompting you to plan the social event of the season?
If the idea of renewing your vows or throwing a reception is only in your head because others are pressuring you to do it, then it might not be in your best interest. Let those people know you’d be happy to celebrate with them at a dinner out, a couple’s evening in or some other way. It’s not your job to please everyone.
IS IT IN THE SCHEDULE?
Remember how hard it was to plan a wedding the first time around? Unless your spouse has separated from the military, you are going to face some of the same scheduling problems as before. It would be horrible to plan this new reception event only to have to cancel after the deadline for refunds when a surprise deployment hits.
Think about the timeline for planning an event. It may be smart to try and plan around government sponsored long weekends or major holidays when family is already together. You can combine the Christmas Eve festivities with celebrating your nuptials. It might not be the traditional celebration but sometimes you have to jump on the scheduling the military allows.