I wanted a winter wedding at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, a wine village my grandfather helped design. In their big dark red ballroom. With white lights everywhere. And my brother officiating at the top of the staircase. Me in a long white dress. Hubs in a nice dark gray suit. Sit down dinner for everyone. And then dancing! Very low-key and casual but super fun!
So Joe flew in from Germany in January 2007. He proposed on my birthday, January 20th. We had an amazing night. But he had to fly back to Germany two days later. And I had to concentrate on college. So we were planning a December wedding; a whole year for my mom and me to plan this thing. Very do-able. I was just about to put down a $500 non-refundable deposit on my dream ballroom when Joe calls me. He can get leave in June. Whoa. Okay, so now no winter wedding. Okay, that's fine. But the ballroom might still be do-able! Okay, lets plan this sucker! And then another call. How about August? Okay, no big deal. But the $500 deposit cant be wasted on a date that might not happen at all. So the ballroom isn't possible at all. Okay, that's fine. But where do we have a wedding that doesn't require a set date? Yep, my parents' backyard! It's big enough for my whole crazy family. And FREE!! Everything changed, down to the wedding colors! Now they are celadon and tangerine. (Although, I was told by a wedding planner that celadon was the "it" color that year. Who would have guessed I was in fashion!!) So another phone call. Now his leave is in July. Can we have it July 7, 2007? That would be freaking awesome!! Nope, sorry, Joe cant fly in until July 10th. So in February, my mother and I have basically 4 months to plan a wedding. My mother did an AWESOME job! The whole family pulled together to fix up the back yard. It was beautiful by the time we had the wedding. Lush green ferns, Gerber daises, and tiny orange flowers my grandma potted for us. We didn't have a set date until two weeks out. Which means that we couldn't special order any invitations. I did them all my hand. Which was okay by me, because I'm very picky about stuff like that. But we had two weeks to send them out to family. But my family being my family, they already knew the issues we were dealing with and didn't care about the short notice. Joe flew in on July 10th. We had three days to get the marriage license and Joe's wedding vest (didn't make him wear a jacket in the July heat).
We got married on Friday, July 13th, 2007 at 6pm. In my parents' back yard. Surrounded by 150 people I love. And in that moment, I realized that even though it wasn't the dream wedding I planned as a child, it was my dream wedding because I got to marry this boy. And I got to marry him on the porch I used to play on as a child. I got to marry him in front of everyone I care about. I got to marry Joe. And it didn't matter where we were. My mother still cried.
Did we get a honeymoon. Sorta. We went to spa-tastic Eureka Springs, AR, and stayed there for a few nights. It was so nice. Just me and Joe. I hadn't been alone with him for that many days straight in literally YEARS. He got 21 days leave. But travel time was included in that. So only a week later, Joe had to fly back to Germany for 4 more months. I was a newlywed without my partner. And it sucked.
Looking back at the whole ordeal, this almost seems like an Army wife orientation. How can YOU handle planning the biggest day of YOUR life around the Army's schedule? You cant get mad at anyone about it. Your husband has no control over any of it. But if you can plan a wedding on the Army's time table, you can plan anything on the Army's schedule! Now, I know that someone out there is an Army wife that had her perfect wedding while also marrying a soldier. But I don't know any of them! Many of my Army wife friends had fly-by weddings as their husbands were breezing through. As far as I can tell, this is the norm in the Army. Couples have courthouse weddings in anticipation of a real church wedding later on. But I know that only a handful of those women actually get the church wedding they are waiting for. Life gets in the way (isn't that a song?). But at the end of the day, we are all married to the love of our lives. So what does it matter?
So did the Army change my plans? Most definitely. But I like to think it was for the better. I loved my wedding. I got the low-key casual event I wanted. I have a gorgeous scrapbook to show for it (thanks mom!!) and the love of my life upstairs snoring in our bed. So I'm going to take this lesson with me on my PCS move. No one can control the Army. You just have to go with the flow. Something I'm not good at, but I'm learning. And by the time this craziness is over in 16 years, I'll be a pro at it!