(Closed) Small wedding now or elope and big wedding later…

posted 8 years ago in Military
Post # 3
923 posts
Busy bee

Well, I’ve sooo been where you are!! My husband and I both moved to a new city together after he finished flight school (army chinook pilot) and I got out of nursing school. We moved in, got engaged, and a month later BAM! Deployment time. We knew we wanted to be married before his next deployment but didn’t think it would come that soon. He would have to leave 4 months later, and we were far away from all of our friends and family. We knew we had a few options as far as the wedding goes but we also wanted our “dream wedding”.

We decided to elope. We went to Jamaica and got married on the beach. There was no one there but us, the preacher, and a witness. It was very exotic and romantic. But also not at all what we really wanted, and it was lonely. We spent the week there enjoying our 1st and last moments (at least for a while) as husband and wife and 2 weeks later he shipped out to Iraq. We have been planning our “dream wedding” all along though. Next Arpil we are having a vowel renewal ceremony and treating it just like a wedding. For our first we didn’t register or even tell many people other then our parents and best friends we were actually getting married. The families all know now, but this way our wedding next April can be everything we originally planned and we got to get the best of both worlds.

I can’t say what’s right for you, but eloping now could be a great option. No it wouldn’t be your dream wedding, but 3 years down the road is a good long time to save up a decent amount of money for the over the top blow out wedding you want. And think about it…who get’s to have 2 wedding dresses? Two wedding days…and all to the same man that you love with all of your heart?? You wouldn’t believe the deals they have at carribean resorts for weddingmoon packages. Look into it…see if that’s something you 2 would be interested in. A wedding and a honeymoon all in one. A private special and unique ceremony that will for sure be something you will always remember, and something to think back to the next few years as your engulfed in school. A no fuss, stress free fun wedding with just the 2 of you. Then a few years from now you have the BIG shin-dig. We did it, and I’m so glad we did!!

Let us know what you decide!! Here’s some links to get your thought bubble started…




Post # 5
2373 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

From a military perspective (my husband is a Naval Officer- we’re both VERY familiar with AF OTS- long ugly story)..  it makes more sense to get married before he leaves.

1. It’s a wise financial decision. If he is married he recieves BAH based on his home of record and Family Separtion pay during OTS. If he is not he only gets basic pay at an E-5 level.  Do a google search for BAH by zipcode, enter your zipcode, his payrate (during OTS it should be E-5) and there you go. Minimally, it’s an extra 1000/month. During Naval OCS I moved in with my parents and we were able to bank a lot of money. It came in handy when he graduated and we bought our first home at his new station.

2. He’ll enroll you in the system when he arrives. It’s not a big deal to get in after he’s commissioned- it’s just easier and there’s no waiting for hours in an office. You also are able to get your military ID and enroll yourself in Tricare/Tricare dental. I’m assuming your medical program requires some type of health insurance- this would save you some money.

3. If something happens to him during OTS they don’t call his parents- they call you. My husband was hospitalized with pneumonia (he spent almost 6 months in OCS due to recovery time/space in a new class), it was nice to be the first to know and have decision making power. 

4. You’re not taken seriously as a fiance. It’s sad, but true.


 Personally, I would get married before he leaves mostly because you’re not considered anyone important until your married. It also doesn’t hurt if he needs security clearance either- he already has a spouse they can look into. Plus, I think a smaller December wedding would be lovely 🙂

 And if you’re make the decision to keep your last name (maybe you want your degrees printed in your name or  just prefer it) having him put you into the system when he gets there makes things a little easier. I kept my last name as I wanted my degrees printed in that name and am not finished with my education just yet. He cleared up all the B.S. then and when he was interviewed for clearance it was established I kept my maiden name. Them having you under a false name (his) is a big deal.




Post # 6
22 posts
  • Wedding: June 2010

@maureen9004: This. Exactly.

I don’t know how close you are to Colorado, but the state is unique in that you can marry yourselves (not joking) & you don’t need any witnesses. The process is the same as if you were having an officient – you go to a county courthouse & apply for a marriage license – but the only difference is that you sign the license yourselves & are responsible for returning to the courthouse. We married in an Aspen grove, 2 miles high, with a mule deer & magpies as our witnesses. It was unbelievably romantic and to us, sacred.

Post # 7
2429 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

The other bees nailed it with very valid reasons.  I also believe you should marry now.  I would go over all the many reasons as to why I think you should do this, but the other gals said what my thoughts were. 

Post # 8
1046 posts
Bumble bee

That is exactly what we did… and I’m SO happy we did! You are 100% correct that it is easier… it eased a huge financial burden for us. I would definitely suggest it… we gotmarred 3 months ago and we are now having our big wedding in less than a month! They make it pretty much impossible to be in the military and have a relationship without being married!

Another bonus… It was so romantic =)

We also had people saying that it was “stupid” to already be married and have a big wedding, so we only told people on a need to know basis. 99.9% of of our friends and family think we are still only engaged… I’m so happy we did it that way too. I wont feel “really” married until we are married by my church.

God bless =)

Post # 10
14494 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

You can be married by any minister in CA, I saw this on Gene Simons family Jewels, his wife married a couple and got ordained online (it takes 2 minutes My dad married us with an online ordination). 

You didn’t say what you wanted to do, what is your dream.  Some womens dream wedding is large and grand, some it’s an intimate family affair.  If your dream is a big wedding, get legally married now and big wedding later.  Don’t let what other people want influence what your dream is, you only get one chance at it.  (and being from a military family I know the benefits of getting married before he goes to school or has to ship out)

We were married in June with just our parents (because of a family tragedy) and we moved our big wedding until next year.  I am so glad that we held true to what we want for our day, I will never look back with regrets.

Post # 12
14494 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

@Opus: Sit down and really put some thought into your dream and have the FH do the same.  My lovely SIL married my brother at a med base in Texas, then six months later did the church wedding with a backyard reception.  Now while helping me plan my wedding my SIL told me she has a ton of regrets about their reception.  She really wanted a dj for a first dance, better food, and not in a backyard.  I really feel bad that she missed out on what she really wanted.  She made decisions because my brother was pushing her (and he is really a cheapskate) to do things the easy and cheap way.  It was a really lovely reception, but it wasn’t what she wanted.

Post # 13
2907 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Get married now. Then plan the “real thing.” This is very common for military weddings, and we probably doing this when he gets back from Afghanistan.

Post # 14
690 posts
Busy bee

Personally, i’d probably do the small wedding now, versus eloping + big reception.  If you think some of your family wont take a later reception as seriously, it doesn’t sound like the big event would be your ‘dream wedding’ either.  Maybe just throw as many resources as possible into making a December wedding as special as possible? 

Post # 15
1871 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

I also think you should get married now. You also have options if you do (sorry if I’m repeating any PP’s suggestions–I skimmed!):

1. Not tell anyone and then have your ceremony. You can even have a civil ceremony now and do a more souped up religious ceremony later.

2. Have a big 1st anniversary blowout

3. Just have the party later. However, do understand that some people will not travel for it–it just doesn’t have the clout as an actual ceremony does.


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