TBT: The Elopement Part 2

Jeremy and I made the 8 hours drive up to my hometown on the Friday before we got married. I had the day off from class and he took leave to have a three day weekend. We both had to be back at school/work on Monday, so no honeymoon for us!

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We woke up Saturday morning, February 14, 2008 and got ready together for the big day. I wore my off-white summer dress that I had originally bought for the wedding, and carried my wedding dress with me to the courthouse. We had made an appointment for the morning since apparently Valentine’s Day is a popular day to elope at the courthouse!

We met my parents at the courthouse, along with my sister, my brother and his fiancee, and my BFF and her husband (who brought me a bouquet!). There were a total of 10 guests at our wedding, all of them being my immediate family except for my BFF and her husband (I had actually been a witness for their courthouse wedding a few months before). None of Jeremy’s family had the time or money to fly out to CA for our wedding, which is why we were planning our vow renewal for Wisconsin, so they didn’t have to spend money to travel anywhere.

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Getting married at the courthouse is kind of awkward, especially when you are wearing a full on wedding dress! I changed in the bathroom of the courthouse, and then had to wait around in the lobby in my dress before we went into our room. Jeremy stayed in another room because I didn’t want him to see me all dressed up until I walked down the aisle. I am glad I did that, because the look on his face when I walked in was amazing. What I remember most about that day was the smile on his face and when he whispered “you look beautiful” to me when I got up next to him.

My Dad walked me down the aisle, like he had always wanted to. He cried both times he walked me down, at my wedding and my vow renewal.

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The ceremony took place in a very ugly gray room. There was a awesome tacky archway they had put up for Valentine’s Day, that really classed up the place haha

It was a simple ceremony, short and to the point. We exchanged rings and when they asked me to say “I do” I spoke too soon. Apparently she wasn’t done reading. Funny thing is, I did the exact same thing when we renewed our vows haha. Apparently I was eager to get married!

We took some pictures in the lovely gray room and then headed out to lunch for the “reception”

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After lunch most of my family parted ways and my Dad came with me and Jeremy to the hotel so he could check us in and take some photos for us (my Dad has an art degree). I changed back into my wedding dress and we wandered around the hotel taking photos. It is a beautiful winery, and a lot of people actually pay big money to have their weddings there. My Dad knew the owner, so they let us take photos for free and use the ground as for our impromptu photo shoot.

I love the photos my Dad took and I am so glad that we have beautiful memories of our wedding day.

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Too be continued…

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TBT: The Elopement!

So Jeremy and I were officially engaged as of December 26, 2008!

I posted it on my Facebook that day (of course!). Remember when Facebook statuses had to start with “Alison Hettema is….”? Yep, old school! My status read, “Alison Hettema is ENGAGED!”

We drove back down to San Diego after the Christmas holiday and started to talk about picking a date for the big day.

We knew we wanted to do it fairly soon, for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, we wanted to live together. My lease was up in May and Jeremy and I were ready to move in together, and since he was an E-4 at the time, we had to be married in order to get BAH (housing allowance).

We thought about having a small wedding in April over Spring Break, but that was shot down because Jeremy’s brother was deploying to Afghanistan in January for a year, and if we were going to have only one wedding, we wanted his brother to be up there with him. But that would mean having to wait at least a year and a half, and we didn’t want to wait that long to live together.

So we decided to just go to the courthouse and elope, and then have a big wedding the next summer when his brother was back from deployment. It seemed like a fabulous idea to me at the time, best of both worlds! We get to live together and start our lives together, but have time to plan a “real” wedding where all of our families could be there to celebrate with us.  (If you’ve read my previous post, I have come to somewhat regret that choice). But at that moment in time, it sounded like a perfect plan, and I was 100% on board.

I started planning a small elopement. I bought an off white summer dress, Jeremy got some slacks and a dress shirt. We found a nice restaurant to go to lunch at with my family after the ceremony. We set a date for Valentines Day, 2009 (which sounded super romantic at the time, 100% regret that decision now lol. Ever tried to go out on Valentines Day?! Everything is over crowded, over booked and over priced!)

My family, however, were not on completely on board. My Dad expressed that he was disappointed that it wouldn’t be a “real” wedding. He said that he had always dreamed of walking his daughter down the aisle in a white wedding dress. He laid on the guilt hard core. I see now that he just wanted to give me a perfect wedding so I didn’t have any regrets, but at the time I couldn’t appreciate that and I found his opinions to be incredibly frustrating and “unsupportive”.

But as a result of his incessant comments, I caved and bought a wedding dress off the rack a few weeks before the big day (which I am forever grateful for since our photos from that day turned out like actual wedding photos thanks to that dress and my Dad’s photography). I also let him get Jeremy and I a hotel room at a fancy winery for our wedding night.

So less than 2 months after we officially got engaged, Jeremy and I drove back up to my hometown and eloped at the courthouse on February 14, 2009.

To be continued….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy last minute off the rack dress + the winery my Dad got us a room at + a bouquet from my BFF/Maid of Honor = amazing wedding photos ❤

 

My Letter to All Military Fiancees

(This post is a few days late, Oops! Pretend that it is July 30th)

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Your engaged! Congratulations! What an exciting and wonderful time in your life.

Now all your energy and focus has shifted to that one big day that all women dream of: The Wedding

Let the planning begin!

If you are engaged to someone in the military, that planning can get complicated pretty quickly.

First off, how can you pick a date a year from now when you don’t know what country or state your service member will be in next month?! Second, it really sucks to not be recognized by the military as a “fiancee”, especially when facing things like moving (very expensive when the military doesn’t pay for it and you aren’t “allowed” to live with your fiancee) and deployments (wouldn’t it be nice to be included in all the spouse events? Some medical benefits would be nice too!)

Believe me, I felt the exact same way when I was engaged to my Marine. So what is the solution? One that many military spouses jump to (just like I did): have a quick courthouse wedding and either a) hide it from everyone or b) only tell a few people, and then plan a big wedding for later on when you can afford it and he is out of the military and/or is at a steady location/deployment schedule.

It’s the perfect plan! The courthouse ceremony gets you legally married, which means medical benefits, living together, being included on his PCS orders, etc. Plus, if you keep it on the down low then people will still be excited for your “real” wedding and it won’t take away from your big day in your big white dress. Then you can still get all the military benefits and have your big dream wedding late on when you have time/money to plan it.

That was my exact plan when I got engaged. I figured that we were going to get married anyway (that wasn’t a question), it was just a matter of when. My lease was up in a few months and Jeremy and I wanted to move in together. But since he was a lowly enlisted “single” Marine, he was required to live in the barracks until he got married. Jeremy’s brother was also about to leave on a year-long deployment, which meant that if we wanted a big formal wedding, it would have to wait at least a year, and we couldn’t live together during that year. So we decided to get hitched at the courthouse and then have a big wedding later after his brother came home.

I remember telling my Dad about our plans and he was not thrilled. Besides that fact that his little 19-year old only daughter was going to elope with a guy she had been dating for 6 months, he hated the idea of a courthouse wedding. I told him my plans, that our courthouse wedding wouldn’t be a “real” wedding, that our wedding day would be when we had our big formal wedding. The courthouse wedding was just paperwork and legal stuff so we could move in together and be recognized by the military.

I remember him telling me that I was wrong (I was 19, so in my mind, I was never wrong lol). He told me that the day you say your vows is your wedding day. No matter where it is, what you are wearing or who is there. The moment you say those vows and legally become Husband and Wife, that is your wedding day and the day you will remember and celebrate for the rest of your life.

I refused to believe him, of course. I fully believed that when we had our big wedding it would be our wedding day. It would be the magical day that all girls dream of, walking down the aisle to the man of their dreams in a big white dress with all their friends and family to witness.

So I rejected his appeals to wait a few months and have a cheap backyard wedding (since money was an issue as well) and went through with the elopement. He did manage to guilt me into a wedding dress (he had dreamed of walking his daughter down the aisle in a wedding dress), and on February 14, 2009, in a dark and tacky courthouse, I became the Mrs. to his Mr.

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The emotions I felt that day are almost indescribable. I was so happy, content, excited, and nervous all at once. The feeling you get when you promise yourself and your future to the person that you love with all of your heart, is incredible. To make those vows publicly and be recognized as having committed yourself fully to this person is a joyous moment in life. There has never been a day where I have regretted my elopement, because of the fact that it is the day that I became the wife of a man that I love with all of my heart.

But the wedding planning continued. After two date changes, one deployment and a magical homecoming, Jeremy and I, along with our family and friends, gathered in Wisconsin on July 30, 2011 for our vow renewal.

I wore a wedding dress, he wore his dress blues. There were bridesmaids and groomsmen, flowers, a DJ, cake and a photographer. The venue was beautiful, the food was delicious and we had an amazing night.

289255_10150268463021819_660371818_7843046_1806723_oHowever, that day felt nothing like my wedding day. Nothing happened on July 30, 2011 other than a pretty awesome party where I wore a very nice white dress.

I didn’t marry the man of my dream, I had already done that over two years ago at the courthouse. I didn’t get butterflies when I walked down the aisle towards Jeremy. I didn’t tear up when we said our vows for the second time. And the ring he put on my finger had been on that same finger for the last two and a half years.

I say all this because I wonder if I would have done things differently if someone had told me all of this when I was engaged. Now that I am involved in the military significant other community, I see so many military fiancees asking for advice about wedding planning and courthouse weddings vs. traditional weddings. I always like to tell my story, not to convince them to avoid the courthouse, but just to give a different perspective. A perspective that I wish I had been given (although my Dad did try lol).

My advice is to have the wedding you want. Whatever that may be. The day you exchange those vows and become Husband and Wife is your wedding day, it’s up to you on how you want to remember it.

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