Military life is such a roller coaster. It brings so many good things, and hard moments, and lets be honest- a little bit of chaos. One of the hardest things is definitely never knowing the exact schedule or leave dates and everything being subject to change at a moment’s notice. It can make planning a wedding so difficult.
In the midst of Army life, my husband and I decided to plan our wedding. An out of state wedding no less, in Washington, when we lived in Colorado. I still remember going to look at venues and asking about the refund policy if for some reason some “army” thing came up. One of the vendors looked at me and said “well he’s been in for 3 years, shouldn’t he know his schedule by now?”. My mother in law and I just looked at each other and laughed.
While our wedding turned out an absolute dream (ps these are all of our wedding photos!), there are definitely things to keep in mind when planning a military wedding.
- Plan around block leave dates. Seriously, that was the best thing we did. Because there are going to be so many soldiers off, block leave is planned at least 6 months in advance and generally don’t change. Get those dates and use it to pick your wedding date.
- Be flexible about the day of the week. Chances are you’re not going to be able to book your venue a year in advance. And if you’re getting married during the busy summer season its hard to get a Saturday. That’s okay! Pick a Friday or Sunday. Its going to be cheaper and the people you love and care about will still be there.
- Make sure chain of command knows. This is so important. Just because its a priority to you, doesn’t mean it is to them. Tell them (or have your service member tell them) as soon as you reserve your date, then follow up frequently.
- Don’t stress about the shorter timeline. Again you probably won’t have a whole year to plan your wedding. Here’s a secret- you don’t need one. Especially if you’re date is not a Saturday people will be available. We planned ours in less than 6 months and had the most amazing vendors.
- Its okay to get married before you get married. Wait, what? Yep you read that right. The military cares about you so much more once you’re actually married. It makes no sense, but that’s how it is. Plus a little extra BAH to put towards the wedding expense doesn’t hurt either. If its easier to make things legal before the official day, do it! It doesn’t have to be common knowledge or take away from your actual wedding day. And then you get to have 2 anniversaries too!
There’s always going to be stress that comes with event planning, military life just adds an extra twist. Don’t forget that at the end of the day, it should be more about your marriage and being with the one you love than all the other stuff!