Why? Because we freakin' <3 lists. And because we wish we'd known all of this all anywhere from 1-60 months ago. Being raised by hippie feminists, educated by women's colleges and women's studies classes, informed by Jezebel.com, cultured by big cities and traveling the globe creates well-rounded individuals. One might even say round pegs for the square hole of the US Armed Forces. And yeah, we had a couple o'gaps in our zeitgeist that we hope we can help you with.
- A is for Alpha, N is for November, P is for Papa, V is for Victor...one needs to know the Military Alpha-Bravo, I mean, Alphabet. Why? Because no-one will be able to spell your (new) *mutually hyphenated* last name in the Army without using it and you will look like a tool if you can't do the same. Here's a hot tip. Get on Netflix.com TM or Hulu.com TM and watch The Dollhouse. All the Dolls have call-signs in the Military Alphabet; NOVEMBER sex plots + Joss Whedon = LEARNING! Or download this Militaryspot.com article on the formula and history of the Military Alphabet to your Smart House touch-screen wall and have it follow you around reciting itself. Whichever works for you.
- Crest 3D Whitestrips TM really work. And no, I'm not a corporate whore. Drink water- in fact, start the day with a giant travel cup of Jasmine Green tea (steeped 10-12 minutes). Exfoliate often but be gentle with your skin. Find a moisturizer you love and use it EVERY night on your face and neck. Or as often as you can manage. Moisturizing your face at night is important to the future of the planet... or at the very least, the ability to have male clerks in most stores within 10 miles of Post goggle and look visibly shocked when they find out you're 10 years older than 23. With no make-up on. Wear confidence instead of make-up, do push-ups when you're feeling down, and when you need an ego-boost go out on the town with no bra in a t-shirt and watch the strangers drool with lust and envy.
Now whose scared of walking down an aisle in front of people who already love you? Damn right, nobody. You're welcome.
- Consider getting married before your wedding. We did a poll and 97% of all military couples we spoke to were legally married before they had a wedding. Now for full disclosure that's a sample size of 3 plus a >3% margin of error. So yeah, we all did it. Not a one of us planned to have two wedding "dates"...and where Bravo thinks of her wedding date as her anniversary, Kilo thinks of the marriage date as the anniversary. One of us is in the closet about it. Why? Because families are strange. Oh, why did we get married before we got married? Simple.
Continued after the jump »
practicalityintheeventsomethingterriblehappens... Life, man, is complicated.
- Non-traditional weddings rock. So do non-traditional wedding dresses, desserts, venues, and partners. Here at soimarriedanarmyguy we advocate the "BE YOU/S" approach to weddings that the wondrous blogs apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com are famous for. Seriously, even if you choose to incorporate every tradition that the Lifetime Channel TM and Martha Stewart Magazine TM have commercialized, know that life with a partner in the Military is full of surprises and be ready to roll with it. Embrace the reality of your friendships and familial relationships- and your budget- and uphold those specific parts of the experience that will make you a joyful bride. Don't try to impress anyone but you. Bend, don't break. Echo had a military wedding including a Sabre Detail on a farm with all-vegetarian food and cinnamon buns for dessert. Bravo got hitched by not one but two female rabbis- first in her parent's living room and then in an IMAX theater (hey, the seats were built-in). Kilo is having her wedding at a restaurant so locavore and seasonal she doesn't even know what the menu will be at her reception in a month's time. Bravo and Kilo both independently bought short dresses in soft gold. All of us have been weight-lifting and exercising it for 5+ months now, not for some sort of model-bride-look but because we want be healthy and strong for these amazing life events.
- Keep your personal documents close. Need that Military Dependent ID? You will need your social security card, your birth certificate, your spouse, your spouse's ID, the signed marriage certificate (license is accepted in some instances, like in the event of a Nazi invasion from the Moon) and an original OompaLoompa. Ok, the Nazi invasion is a little unlikely (did you see Iron Sky?)...but I did this like 6 months ago and I still don't know half of the documentation they needed. My Master's degree diploma might have been involved. Just make sure you know where all the things are before you get hitched. Put all the documentation together into one or more safe, fire-proof, lockable locations where you can access it when you need it. And make copies for when you misplace it all in your safe, logical location. You WILL need it.
- Say "Yes" when you can and say "No" when you can't. This travel book, A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe is all about women's solo journeys contains a story about a year in Paris. The author made a pact with herself that in order to fully embrace the adventure, she would say "yes" to every invitation to an event or experience that came her way. This attitude took her to the hammam in the Central Mosque, it took her to a Blind Dinner, and tasting a new cheese that a fromagerie picked for her every week. Living This Army Life means saying yes to new friendships where you find them. And it means drawing a hard line when things aren't for you. Try the Family Readiness Group. Try the Young Professionals group. Try Meet-up.com. Try Sunday Google-hangouts with your distant buddies. Try new Amtrak routes. Try coffee shops and hiking trails in your state. Try planning the wedding where you can have control. Try trusting your friends and family to help you plan, run reconnaissance, taste-test, negotiate, haggle, threaten, pray or pay where you can't. Trust in the adventure. This is not a boring ride.
- Own a ball gown. Or a professionally-appropriate dress in which you feel comfortable being introduced to high-pay-grade people. If you own a handbook- and see, I do because when DH proposed I thought I could use some self-help- it will use professionally negative language. Sometimes even nasty slut-shaming language. See this Militaryspouse.com "Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Classy and Not Trashy Ball Gown" in which you are advised not to pick a dress which requires boob tape or duct tape or tape of any kind. Hahaha. Wow. Not at all insulting. And that's mild. Check out our post on new dress codes at the Commissary for more on the Army's attitude on how to train 18+ year olds from poor, working class, and middle class backgrounds on how to be "professional" without using those words or implications or any sort of clear expectations. At. All. For visual confirmation watch Army Wives Season 1 Episode 1...otherwise known as the Ball Scene.
- Research. Comparison Shop. Ask. Why do Military Discounts exist? Because your spouse's pay sucks. Why do Military Weddings exist? Because they allow people to take their unique circumstances and implements a full wedding program fast and inexpensively. Why do Military couples have specific tax regulations or are exempt from registering their cars in their current state of residence? Because someone fought for making your life just a touch easier at some point in the past. Do your homework but there are vendors and venues out there who look out for MilFamilies.
- Read. Think. Speak. Act. So you're marrying an Army Dude?! Big Army is going to tell you that you are entering the FAMILY, mafia-style...oh, and by this act you are also adopting all the protocol and standards of behavior that your Dude is expected to adhere to minus actually experiencing Basic Training yourself. This. Is. Bulls*t. You signed no agreement and made no commitment beyond loving and honoring an individual. You can participate if you'd like. You can look for a Government Service (GSA) job on Post if you'd like. Think of your role as that of a Political Spouse...but not like a Political Wife, more like a Political Husband...is it wonderful if the Senator's hubby accompanies her to a Party Fundraiser or comes to watch her vote on the Floor? Yes! But really, he's got his own thing most of the time and her job isn't his job. Be you. Act like you. Speak like you. Try not to deliberately insult or embarrass your partner. Be aware that some people in the Mil still believe boys and girls can't be just platonic friends. Beyond that, love and honor and keep it real.
- You will want to kill him/her. Inevitably. Potentially you may even feel this way often. Know that this is normal. Love is something you will always feel but sometimes when you live with someone who shaves/irons/gets up at zero-dark-thirty every day, and speaks in ACRONYMS...not to mention that whole expanding within your sphere thing that happens every damn time they're away for longer than 24 hours...yes, Virginia, love and severe annoyance are flip sides to one coin. So what should you do?
Use small words just to piss them off. Smile through the ignomity. Scream loudly and pull out your hair.No. The best advice is this: LEARN HOW TO FIGHT FAIR. Followed closed by: FIGHT FAIR, JUST DO IT. Some things can't be un-said once spoken. Winning some battles means losing the war- or trust- or the real heart of your relationship. Breathe deeply. Think before you speak/act/throw things. And always remember- no hitting.