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Posts Tagged ‘long-distance wedding planning’

Bewildered Bride-to-BeMy fiancé Darwin and I have been together 6 years.  We finished high school together, we went to college at UC Berkeley together, we studied abroad in Italy together…we even joined a ballroom dancing team together.  We’ve both kind of known for a while that we would end up getting married, and I’ll admit that I did have some fantasies abut what our big day might be like.  The thing I didn’t imagine was that my planning process would be a little more complicated than most, because I would be planning a military wedding.

What do I mean by military wedding?  Well, if you’re thinking sword arches and gun salutes, that’s not quite what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the practical demands of planning a wedding around the fact you or your future spouse is fully committed to a very demanding job.  There is no postponing military orders if the timing just doesn’t really work for you.  You have to make it work, and you have to be willing to be flexible.

Just a couple of months ago, Darwin joined the Navy as an officer.  He’s about to head of to basic training (yikes!) and when he’s done, we’ll be relocating to Washington, DC.  I am incredibly proud of him and excited for our new life together in DC.  But, I’ve got to be honest, from a wedding planning standpoint this is not going to be easy.  I’ve thought a lot about how to tackle our wedding plans and I’ve gotten some great advice, so I’d like to share what I’ve come up with so far…

Tip #1: Tell your military contact or sponsor that you are getting married, because the military is often willing to work with your plans.  For example, I have heard of a service member who was flown back from overseas deployment for threeRed, white, and blue wedding cupcakes days so that he could attend his wedding.  At the very least, get an outline of what you or your fiancé might be doing over the next year so that you aren’t surprised when something comes up.  When possible, get exact dates for training, deployment, and relocation.  Darwin was able to find out that, luckily, he’ll have a gap in between training courses around the time we want to get married, so it will be much easier to get time off.

Tip #2: Tell your venue and your vendors that one of you is in the military.  You might be able to get a military discount (love those!), but, more importantly, you can let them know that you could be subject to a sudden change of orders, such as deployment.  Work with your vendors to ensure that in the event that you have to change your wedding date, you will be able to alter your plans without incurring huge fees or paying for services that you won’t receive.  Ask your venue and vendors if they offer a “postponement” option that will allow you to postpone your date if necessary.  If not, ask them to add something into the contract that will allow above-average flexibility in terms of date changes.  Most vendors are happy to help accommodate members of the military, so it’s always worth a try!

Tip #3: If you are relocating and you still want that big wedding of your dreams, hire a planner.  I am not about to ask all my friends and family to fly to DC for my wedding, so essentially I’m now planning my wedding from across the country.  If I didn’t have my talented sister to figure out logistics, to occasionally meet with vendors, and to help with design decisions, I would be a whole lot more stressed Red, white, and blue wedding seating chartthan I am now.  At least ask a friend or family member who knows your style and taste to be your “on location” person when it’s impossible to attend meetings yourself.

Tip #4: Again, if you’re relocating, plan for both of you to make at least one trip back before your wedding to hash out menu details, meet your DJ personally, and maybe schedule an engagement session with your photographer.  There are certain things that you really need to decide on in person (preferably together), so be sure to add some additional travel expenses into your budget.

Tip #5: Lastly, make sure that the people involved in your wedding (close family and wedding party) knows your plans and realizes that you could face some shifting dates.  You don’t want the Best Man booking tickets for a surprise bachelor party in Vegas if the Groom is going to miss it!  Get involved in the planning process and make it clear that you have to OK any plans before they become final.

So, that’s my two cents when it comes to planning a military wedding!  If I’ve left more practical questions unanswered, email me at marianna@catrinamaria.com…I leave arches and salutes to your discretion 🙂

Your Bewildered Bride-to-Be,

Marianna

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