Tips and tricks on planning a wedding for brides and grooms who are on active duty.
Planning a wedding is stressful and complicated for any couple, but it’s especially difficult when one (or both) of the almost-newlyweds is in the military. Being stationed around the world and unpredictable deployment schedules can make selecting a location and date for the nuptials seem impossible. If the member of the armed forces is in academy training, that brings in an added level of difficulty, with one more thing to schedule the date around. We’re not going to pretend to be able to make it easy, but hopefully the below information can help ease the stress level of military couples and allow their wedding vision to come into focus.
A quick courthouse wedding allows you to live together in military housing, and you can plan a celebratory ceremony and reception at a date where the military member is guaranteed to be available. Talk to your partner to decide if that’s the right choice for you. Military couples often have to have either short or very long engagements. The less time you have to plan, the more money it tends to cost. However, many vendors will offer military discounts; don’t be afraid to ask! One of the most common fears for couples planning their weddings is that the member of the armed forces will have a deployment moved up and no longer be able to attend their own nuptials. That’s why it is vital for all military couples to invest in wedding insurance. It is useful for any engaged couple, but it is especially relevant for those in active service. Hiring a wedding planner is also a wise choice for those who find themselves stuck planning a last-minute celebration.
Military chaplains can marry members of the armed forces for free, although it is considered proper to make a small donation to the chapel. However, the rules are more strict in terms of décor, music, and even the photographer, so it’s important to figure out what your main priorities for the nuptials are. Weddings with armed forces members in active service also have special decorum that do not apply to civilians. For example, all military guests are to be seated according to rank, with high-ranking officers in a place of honor during both the ceremony and reception. The commanding officer should also have a special seat reserved. Grooms in the military wear their dress uniforms, while military brides may choose their dress uniforms or elect to stick to a traditional bridal gown.
Military brides are invited to register for Brides Across America's "Operation Wedding Gown" event, which takes place twice each year. On Monday, November 13th, a number of bridal salons across the country – including Bridal Reflections on Fifth Avenue in New York City – are offering free gowns to military and first-responder brides. Find out if you qualify and register here.
If you are in need of inspiration, be sure to look through the beautiful military weddings that we have featured in Inside Weddings and on InsideWeddings.com!
Opening photo by Michael Carr Photography