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The Big Day’s A Comin’…

By Liz Brown

It's a strange thing, planning your wedding when you're already married. I know, because I'll be celebrating my wedding anniversary in July while neck-deep in DJs, decorations, and dress fittings for September.

Rob and I knew we'd tie the knot someday, but potential re-enlistment in the SEAL Teams made us pull out a calendar. After a strategic planning session for the future, we agreed the time was right for an engagement, and were wed three months later. (Military life doesn't always make for glamorous fairy tales, if that's what you're looking for.)

And ours was a "military wedding." My dress was white, but knee-length. We had friends and family on hand, but only parents and siblings. We were married before God, but in open air beside the Atlantic ocean instead of in a church. There was no flower girl, no first dance, and no cake cutting. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, cost 75 dollars, and took three weeks to plan.

It was perfect. We stated our commitment to each other in front of our dearest family. On a gorgeous summer day we said, "This is forever." We regret absolutely nothing about how quickly and simply it all happened.

I'm just not sure about everyone else.

Those we love were thrilled at our engagement. The quick wedding? Not so much. Eyebrows were raised. One person (who shall remain nameless) blithely noted that our first wedding, the day on which I took Rob's name and legally became his wife, was just "practice" for the real day. Rob's mother begged us to wait, to have one big event in a year or so for everyone to attend.

Well. We're now planning that big event, but because we're civilly married, some people just aren't that excited. One aunt got our Save the Date and asked, "But what for?"

The thrill is gone, I guess. There's no suspense. We've already crossed the rubicon to become husband and wife; our second wedding will seem like a performance of a thing rather than the thing itself. At this point, I'm hoping free food and beer are enough to get people to show up.

Can I blame them for their ambivalence? It's tempting.

We were married by a Justice of the Peace and want to have our union validated by the Church. We want to celebrate with the full bulk of our crazy, gigantic families. I want to have that dance with my father. I want my sweet niece to be my flower girl and my nephew to be the bearer of our well-worn rings. Rob wants to cut our cake with a knife he made by hand. And I want to wear a killer dress — a LONG white dress — that will bring my husband to his knees.

We couldn't make all of that happen on Rob's timeline in the Teams. Since he's separated, we can.

Maybe it won't feel right to everyone else. It's possible the DJ will screw up our entrance and say, "Now, introducing as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time!" and everyone will feel awkward. But I will never regret marrying Rob when I did. Rob's service in the military is not the reason we had a wedding, it's the reason for WHEN we had our wedding.

The marriage is more important, anyway.