Military Wedding Resources ~ Planning
For those of you who don’t know, I come from a strong wedding and bridal background. I have known much of my life that I wanted to have a career as a wedding and event planner. I did have a business in Orlando for a couple years in which I planned and executed several weddings and events from large to intimate. Now that I find myself in the pre-planning of my own wedding and walking into this military family, I wanted to take some time to write a great blog entry on the two.
The military wedding is a unique and special experience for all involved. It can take the form of a simple ceremony to a large affair with family and friends. Often times we are put into situations where we must have a small ceremony first and put the dreams of our large wedding on hold. Interesting how the military makes it so “easy” to be married, yet so hard to be apart. Regardless of your situation, here are some of my favorite resources and fun websites to help those of you in the midst of planning your special day.
Did you know that The Knot is the number one resource where brides turn for information in planning their special day? An account with this online community is free and holds an abundance of resources. It allows you to search and save wedding gowns, rings, china patterns, and more to your online “notebook.” It also offers a budget calculator, guest list tracker, and your very own personalized website for free. They often run sales in their online shop where you can purchase gifts for bridesmaids and other wedding essentials. Check out their military wedding page here.
The Wedding Paper Divas have some of the most fabulous invitation designs out there! I fell in love with their website from the very start. From engagement announcements to holiday greeting cards…they do it all. The more cards you order, the better your discount will be. Check their wedding invitations out here.
How ADORABLE is this wedding cake topper from Magic Mud!?! They completely customize a wedding topper to match the likeness of you and your husband to be! The best part, is that long after the wedding is over…it can be enjoyed as a keepsake for years to come. This is an example of the one they have for the Army but they have others on their website for Marines and even some for couples who are both military. They run about $175 and make great gifts also. Again, they can completely customize ANYTHING so visit their website and check them out ASAP! Too cute!
Brides Across America is a FANTASTIC organization that provides wedding dresses to military brides at no charge. How does this work and how do you qualify? You must be engaged, be on active duty in the military and have been deployed or will be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan, or have a fiance on active duty in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Local wedding shops in your area hold these events and allow you to come in and select the gown of your choosing. The gowns are new and gently loved and range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand and are all compliments of the lovely people at Brides Across America. If you would like to donate your wedding dress to help another bride, you can find the information through their website also.
Disney World in Orlando offers “Shades of Green,” a military only resort. This could be a great spot for your wedding, elopement ceremony, or even your honeymoon. You’ll enjoy great discounts on rooms and you’ll be amongst many other families and couples who understand the military life. Not to mention, there is MUCH to do in Orlando and on the surrounding Disney property. Through December 31, 2009, military service men and women also receive one free 5-day Park Hopper pass to visit the many Disney theme parks. Additional passes can be purchased for $99 each. They do usually hold this same program each year, so check THIS website often for updates.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw these BEAUTIFUL military themed invitations. Although the FH & I won’t be having our wedding until he is off active duty, I still had to take a look. They come in all sorts of styles with every branch of the military included. Hats off to the folks at “Magnet Street” for these unique invites.
In addition, here are some things to think about:
*Pre-Maritial counseling is SUCH an important step in preparing for marriage. These classes are held at your place of worship, through your Chaplain, or sometimes you can check your local Clerk of Courts website for a list of providers. *Will you get married at a chapel on post? Perhaps a military institution like West Pointe? Or maybe in your own place of worship. Remember also, that often times Pre-Marital counseling is required for any of the above locations.
*Determine the size of your wedding. This will often be one of the first things you do as it will greatly impact the location of your ceremony and/or reception. Use TheKnot.com’s guest list tracker for help.
*BUDGET! It is important to come up with a suitable budget for your wedding. Breaking the bank for your dream day isn’t responsible and taking a loan out is an option, but a dangerous one. You don’t want to walk into marital bliss with a large debt over your head. Set your budget but understand that you will need to be flexible also. The average wedding costs around $25,000. Yep, hard to swallow I know. Obviously things can be done for a lot less or a lot more, depending on your guest count, location, and tastes.
Speaking from experience, I know that planning a wedding when married to a military man is tough, exhausting, draining, and stressful. All things it shouldn’t be, but you can make it easier on yourself by taking a deep breath and realizing that at the end of the day, you’ve found your knight in shining armor. He might not wear a super hero cape, but instead he wears camoflauge and carries a weapon. Know that most of us have to delay our dreams for a later date and start with a simple, basic courthouse or similar style ceremony. Nothing ever goes as expected but it can be something even better.
To all my readers who are currently planning a wedding, CONGRATULATIONS! To those of you seasoned spouses who have a word of advice for us, please leave it in my comment field.