It started with a proposal to spend the rest of your lives together: to make the world know how much you love each other through a pair of rings, a set of vows, and probably changing your relationship status on social media. Many people grow up wondering what their wedding will look like when the time comes. It may include robust flower arrangements, an extensive guest list, and elaborate centerpieces. When I was planning my wedding in the civilian world, Pinterest became my best friend and my enemy. Pinterest is wonderful for making you feel crafty and creative. It will also encourage you to make those individualized mason jar invitations that explode glitter, fireworks, and cupcakes when opened. And can be made in three easy steps! Oh, if only it really was that simple, and if there was about ten more hours in the day this would be incredible! Unfortunately, that is not reality, and furthermore the military lifestyle complicates our ambitions for marriage before we even get started.
The Multiple Journeys to Wedded Bliss
Since my husband commissioned into the Navy, I have made friends with numerous couples who started as friends, became fiancés, and ultimately spouses. Every single journey to their marriages looked different, but the end result was always the same. Wedded Bliss.
Couple #1 got engaged directly after the commissioning ceremony. They were engaged for a few short weeks before having a small beach ceremony with family and friends, and then the husband had to depart for his first training school.
Couple #2 had their ceremony at the courthouse and followed up with a larger reception with friends and family a year later when their schedules allowed.
Couple #3 spent the last 10 months planning their dream ceremony and reception to be held this summer.
Each one of these scenarios was unique. Not every story was lived how they pictured it would be when they were younger, but none of them have any regrets. When your ultimate goal is to spend the rest of your life with your partner, you make the best of the hand you are dealt, and I would not call that settling. Each of these couples still has the same result.
As with anything in the military, flexibility is key, so be prepared to start with your wedding if you are new to the life. You will hear many times over the course of your lifetime that the military comes first, but even if you find yourself compromising on your wedding there will still be great rewards in the end. Regardless if you elect to do a courthouse ceremony, a small ceremony, or a large wedding, the ending will be the same: you will be lawfully wedded to your service member, the love of your life.