My Darling Husband is in the Navy and just went through boot last year, so this will be very LONG, but hopefully helpful to you. 🙂 We were married before Darling Husband left, but in your situation, you’re definitely right to wait.
Navy boot is approximately 9 weeks and he’ll be at Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes (near Chicago). They sadly do not get any time off between boot graduation and leaving for A School. Pass in Review (their graduation) is normally on Friday mornings, and most graduates fly out Saturday to their A School location. Most get the rest of the PIR day to be with their families on Fridays, but they have a certain time to be back on base that night… yeah, it sucks. 🙁
You can go to the airport to see them off the next day if he goes anywhere else for A School. If he stays in Great Lakes for A School, he normally gets the whole weekend off, but checks into A School on PIR day, which only takes a few hours, so he would have from maybe 3pm Friday-Sunday night around 7-8pm. I believe they still stay on the base at night, but don’t know because Darling Husband didnt stay there. Check with him or the recruiter to see what his rate will do… this could be important in your wedding planning.
Another thing to know is that he will only get 3 guests (not counting kids under 12 I believe) to come to PIR. You can have more come, but they aren’t guaranteed seats…. just know that ahead of time because that’s not something a recruiter will think to tell you, and that could be hard with 5 kids. Also, we found most recruiters had outdated info regarding PIR weekend and the rules. RTC (the base) has a facebook page, and I found that the most helpful for the actual expectations and rules, plus you can meet a lot of people who have loved ones there at the same time. They also do a lot of contests and ways for families to connect with each other, so it’s really awesome for support while he’s there! I highly recommend it!!
As far as marriage timing, you have a few options….
1) Get married PIR weekend on Friday/Saturday. This can be sort of hard to do because he needs to get special permission from RTC, but it’s doable, especially if he stays there for A School. I made friends with a few girls in DH’s grad group who did this. This should allow you to be able to move with him to A School on the Navy’s dime. However, if his A School is less than 6 months, the Navy won’t move you anyway. This info you can get from the recruiter. But, the being married part is nice because then you can get your ID card, Tricare, and BAH. I *think* nukes and sub ratings are the only ones that have long A Schools/training phases, but don’t know for sure. There might be a few more.
2) Get married during A School in a legal ceremony sometime, depending on his school schedule and where he’s located. Usually, there are different schedules they can be on during school, basically 1st or 2nd shift type hours. This was something we did not know until we went through it. Normally, if it’s not a duty day (which is usually somewhere around 1x per week) he would have a few hours in the mornning/afternoon to go to a JOP and can go off base once he phases up and has daytime liberty.
This you wouldn’t be able to plan till he gets there. They are very limited in freedom when they first get to school. It took Darling Husband about 2 weeks to get liberty to even go off base during the week, but by the middle of A School, everyone should have this liberty. The benefit would be you would start drawing BAH and you/your kids could get Tricare, plus he would be considered married with dependents when getting his first orders after A School (which is important!!).
3) Wait till after A School and he’s settled at his first duty station. This would allow you to skip the legal ceremony and just do it all at once, saving you the headache of doing two ceremonies. Plus, some people just aren’t into the whole legal-only thing, which is understandable.
**There is one thing I want you to know, though. If he is unmarried at the end of A School and it’s BEFORE getting hard orders to his first duty station, it is ALWAYS a possibility for him to get orders overseas for 2-4 years. And once he gets them, if he gets married, then he doesn’t get new orders. Also, in the Navy you must be an E-4 to get authorization to take dependents to OCONUS duty stations.
So, hypothetically, if he is an E-1, you wait till after A School, and he gets orders to Japan… he’s going to be in Japan for 2-4 years, and you won’t be able to go with him potentially for years. 🙁 That’s happened to real couples in your type of situation, and I don’t want that to happen to you. Obviously, that’s not always going to happen, but the possibility is definitely there.**
So, my advice would be to wait until he’s settled in A School, and to definitely get legally married then. I believe if you want to get married while in A School, he needs special permission but normally it’s very easy to get. My Darling Husband has known at least 5 guys who got married during their training. You may need to wait on your big wedding ceremony until after you’re settled at your first duty station, though.
If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. I’m new to weddingbee, but have a few months of Navy wife experience. 🙂