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So, you are engaged to your sailor. There is a wedding in the future. How does the Navy handle all that?

First, let me say congratulations. Second, let me give you advice up front: be flexible, be patient and easy-going, and know there will be bumps in the road ahead. Navy wife is no simple task, and your wedding is not on the Navy's agenda. You have to fit it in when and where you can. That means you must always have a Plan B. No, the Navy will not guarantee your sailor can go home to get married. That wedding day is not in his seabag.

And as with all "advice", if it rings true for your individually, great. If not, feel free to ignore me. We're all individuals. All I am trying to do is provide a wider view of how things work in reality, to get the brides and families to think about things outside the civilian experience. As usual, what is true for one sailor may not apply to the next. Please, share wedding stories in the comment section. LOL, or tell me just how wrong I am.

I don't have the nuts and bolts of getting married in the Navy in front of me, as it varies by things such as training status, rank and duty station. If the sailor is an E-3 or below, they MUST put in a special request chit to marry. The Navy wants to know beforehand. In writing. If two sailors are marrying, same thing. E-4 and above? Check with your individual commands. I've only seen one marriage request denied, special circumstances overseas. School commands may be strict about this, and may require counseling and courses on finance.

Part one: Timing. So, how soon should you marry? Before boot camp? After A school? Once the sailor gets a permanent duty station?

Before boot camp means you're a Navy dependent from day one. It does mean you are beginning your marriage with a couple months apart. From a money view, this is good. From an intimacy and communication view, this is one tough deal for a young couple.

Right before A school? The sailor still must concentrate on schooling, and may not have unrestricted liberty. If the school is short, you may not qualify for a move to the area. The plus side is again, money and that set of orders in the future. The downside is you may distract them from their intense study schedule and be resentful that as a new wife you aren't getting much attention from them. During this time, the sailor is expected to run the special request chit asking permission.

After A school? Or C school? There is supposed to be a leave period before reporting to the new command. Let me say that slowly and clearly. SUPPOSED TO BE. That means MAY BE. Maybe. Some sailors must report right away and do not get time to go home. The upside is you know where he's going. The downside is called "unaccompanied orders". They receive those orders before they leave school, and a spouse cannot be included until they're actually a spouse. Fiances don't count. Yes, a sailor can request a waiver and bring along the dependents later. This means more paperwork and time spent waiting for approval. Overseas, it usually is denied. Marrying once they reach their new duty station? Not a bad idea, if they aren't deployed right off. You won't be on the orders, so the Navy will not pay for your move. Junior sailors, E-3 and below, cannot take dependents overseas. Be aware they can be sent without chance of you joining them.

Part Two: The Engagement. Long or short or non-existent? Are you going to school? Are you living with your family? Does he have a long training period with all his schools? Are you pregnant? Must you have a big ring and does that jive with his pay?

Part Three: The Big Day. So, White Dress Wedding with all the family and music and flowers and dancing? Or a casual ten minutes with a JP and a nice dinner after? Something in between?

I can promise, straight up, a Bridezilla who must control every detail and fuss over every issue will not be happy. She guarantees she will be upset about something, and throw the uncertainties of being a Navy spouse into that mix? Explosive. The Navy is ultimately in control.

To decide which type of wedding is right for you means looking at your personality, your family, your means of financing it, and what a wedding means to you. Not a marriage, marriage is different than that first day. What would make the both of you happiest? Is it realistic?

Do you dream about the dress? Have your colors and music picked out since you were five? Have a deposit on the perfect reception place? Your mom has all the favors made up? Then you need to know a solid "when" not a "when he may be able to take leave". That often means before boot camp or after the move to a permanent duty station. The training pipeline can throw you curves.

Do you just want to be the Mrs.? Don't care if you're married in jeans or a designer gown? Want to get on with the Navy spouse thing? Then the quick marriage is the right one for you.

Part Four: Family

Are you hometown sweethearts? Then it is simple to include the family, they are there. Are you from blended families? Things get more complicated, can you handle making peace if you must? Are you from different states and your families live far apart? Can you ask a family to bear the expense of flying in? Flying in if the plans might change? Where will they stay? How long will they be there? How will his family/your family react if they are excluded by timing and place?

My MIL has not forgiven me after 22 years for marrying in Vegas.

Part Five: Money
Who is paying for this shindig? Have you saved up for your day? Do you need a $3,000 dress? A sailor is not a rich person, and if you're planning on moving to be with him, furnishing an apartment and having babies, do you really want to be in debt? That $100+ on favors could pay the utilities for a month. Think on it.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of big fancy weddings. Too much stress, too much money. I do understand this type of wedding is important to some couples, and if it is, you must do all you can to pull it off. I am a big believer in the family potluck picnic wedding, everyone gets to share and contribute and participate.

Part Six: Bad Ideas
Do NOT surprise your sailor with a wedding when they are home on leave. Happened to my hubby. His ex and the families took him to the church. He didn't even say "I do". The women all shouted "He Does". Poor guy was a bit dazed and tried to refuse to sign the marriage certificate. His marriage lasted three days before he filed for divorce. (They must have faked the marriage license, he says he never signed one and was told one wasn't needed).

Do not plan and pay for a wedding if you don't know 100 per cent for sure your sailor will be there. Nothing ruins a party like a sailor who has duty.

Do not get married for the BAH and benefits. Duh. Marry because this is the one person you will stand by for the rest of your life. This is also known as Do Not get married to get out of your parents' house. You can do that all on your own if you try.

Do not get married because you are afraid of being alone and left behind. These are normal feelings, but no reason to tie the knot. Besides, as a Navy spouse, you will be alone and left behind more than once.

Do not get married while planning to get your sailor out of the Navy. I've seen it. Ugly and painful.

A baby on the way? Marry before the birth if possible, It will be simpler financially, and he will qualify for paternity leave. That isn't for the birth, BTW, that's for seeing the baby sometime during the first year. Ten days non-chargeable leave.

So, congratulations, and I hope I have given you something to think about.

Views: 1886

Comment by Anti M on July 29, 2009 at 8:13am
Smoke, sounds like you have a handle on what will work for you!
Comment by Anti M on August 17, 2009 at 10:26am
Chandra, he must have permission from the Navy to marry while he is in a training status. He has to put in a request chit, and there are a number of steps he and you must complete. I've never heard of anyone getting busted for getting married, but yes, it can cause problems if he does not follow proper procedure. he may encounter resistance from his COC, but that is normal too. He should begin the paperwork as soon as possible once he hits his A school.

The Great Lakes Q&A group is a good place to get more detailed information.
Comment by Anti M on August 24, 2009 at 8:52pm
Wow, good or wow, bad? Or wow, the Navy makes everything more difficult?
Comment by Lala Ribbon Queen PIR Ribbons on November 10, 2010 at 7:33pm
My sailor daughter met a young man in DEP, they dated less than a month before she left for boot camp. He wrote her every day. He and his mom went to her PIR. We only got to spend one day with our sailor because she was a grad and go. She went to Pensacola for A-school and he went down on the first weekend she was allowed off base. They got engaged. One month later, he went back and they got married. They didn't tell any of us. I was disappointed, not only because I was afraid they don't really know each other well enough but also because I wanted to be there when she got married. They say they will have a real wedding with family and everyone maybe next year. But, I would still liked to have known and been there. I was actually on my way (driving) to Pensacola to visit her the day she got married. We spent 3 days with her and she didn't tell us. (I was very suspicious and actually looked it up online in public records and found out the truth, it was a mother intuition I guess) Four days after they got married he left for boot camp. They didn't even get to spend a night together before he left. They got to spend 4 days together after his bootcamp. She is now in VA for c-school and he is on his way to Pensacola for A-school. She is looking for an apartment and he is hoping to be stationed in Norfolk or NAS Oceana after a-school but there are no guarantees that will happen. I believe they will put them within 200 miles of each other. It is tough to be so young and married. Put one in the military and it is at least twice as hard. Put them both in the military and let's just say they have a long hard road ahead of them. I am still trying to get used to the idea that she is in the Navy and married. 6 months ago neither of these had ever been mentioned lol. So it is a roller-coaster. I am holding on for dear life. I hope and pray that they are very happy together and that they are good for and to each other. Please keep them in your prayers. They are my life :-)
Comment by jewel on November 10, 2010 at 8:35pm
Oh Lala, I don't know where to begin. Reach out and keep the communication lines open. I'll keep all of you in my prayers. Pray for strength and patience and for them, maturity. Now then, Since they met in DEP, is his family in your area? Can you reach out to them? Is this all "young love" or are there other factors at work? I feel for you, I really do.
Comment by Lala Ribbon Queen PIR Ribbons on November 10, 2010 at 10:35pm
We are doing pretty good. I wish they had waited and got to know each other a little better. But now that they are married I just want them to be happy. And we live in the same area so that will make holidays much easier.
Comment by Anti M on November 11, 2010 at 9:02am
Lala, I was military married to military. The first two years of our marriage, we saw each other a total of 28 days. We were both a little older and both had been married before, so we know what hand we'd been dealt. I only served nine years rather than a full 20 because we couldn't get stationed together.

That 200 miles? HA! That's spouse co-location and first term sailors are not eligible for it.

Our families do not live near each other, it has caused much hate and discontent. I can barely speak to his mother, even after 23 years, she treats me with disdain. His sisters say unthinkingly rude things to me. And then they wonder why I don't seem to like visiting.
Comment by jewel on November 11, 2010 at 3:27pm
Thank you AntiM, for starting this group and sharing what is obviously painful. I was never in myself, I was only a DW for 20 years. I was very aware of how far down on the list of priorities I was. The old "if the navy wanted you to have a wife, children, etc., they would have issued you one in your seabag" still rings true. Now my daughter is at BC and her husband is active duty, 10 year's in. They both have been married before and went through 6 months of marriage counseling before getting married. My daughter decided on her own that going active duty was the best thing for her. Both my daughter and her husband are mid to late 20's and good friends since junior high. I feel that because of their maturity level, and my son-in-law's seniority in the navy, they have a much better chance to be stationed together after training, but even so, the strains on a marriage can be very hard to endure.

Through our marriage, my husband's family never seemed to "get it" about the navy. They were proud and all, but couldn't understand why we weren't there for every little thing that happened in the family. My family, did "get it" I think because my father was in WWII and grandfather in WWI. My parents were older too, and retired so they were able to make frequent, long visits to us(grandchildren) , saving us from the expense in money and leave time to go home.

For my own mental health, I have had to cut some people out of my life.
Comment by Anti M on November 12, 2010 at 1:40am
Yes, sometimes the family you choose is better than the one you're born/married into.
Comment by jewel on November 12, 2010 at 4:55am
Now, with my husband's retirement, I feel like the family dynamic has been flipped, we will be the visiting grandparents, and the active duty will be our children. I still have the picture of my 5 year old daughter , clinging to the fence on the pier in Norfolk, watching her Daddy sail away on the Kennedy. She may be doing the same thing soon.

The navy family was a lot more support for me when my husband was active duty than either one of our born families. Like the people on this website.


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