Filtering by Tag: military weddings

Operation I DO: The First Five Things You NEED To Do After Marrying Your Service Member

Randi Fracassi

While sitting in the Social Security Office waiting for your name to be called may be the highlight of your time post-wedding (just kidding, we all know the Honeymoon is!), there are couple other loose ends that need to be tied up once you’re officially married to your service member. Navigating DEERS, receiving orders and managing your PCS move, obtaining POA, are all details that need to be taken of before you change your social media status (but hey, the lines are long and boring, and there’s quite a bit of time to kill…). Today I’m sharing with you the first five things you need to do post-wedding after getting married to a military personnel.

Let’s also preface this by saying that your Social Security information must be changed prior to all of this. While waiting with other folks in the Social Security Office isn’t exactly the highlight of the marriage experience, it is a necessity in regards to getting your name changed, which I would recommend, as it makes not only enrollment and HR paperwork for your spouse easier, but when you receive orders for your PCS (Permanent Change of Station, aka, moving in your spouse, or moving to another base). Your adventure with Social Security can be shorted by their readily available online forms (found here) and bringing in copies of your birth and marriage certificates.  It’s best to knock this all out in one day if possible, especially since your service member may have to take a day of leave in order to make sure everything is squared away.  

After updating this, get enrolled in DEERS and/or MilPDs, and learn all the fancy acronyms that accompany it. Y’all, the military and government in general is a real big fan of acronyms, and will go out of their way to name a program something ridiculous just to make an acronym for it I promise you. Essentially though, DEERS is the military benefits and resource database (officially called Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System), and MilPDs (Military Personnel Data System) supplements DEERS in that it also keeps track of events throughout your spouse’s career (such as promotions ((and changing eligibility as a result)), additional dependents, and separations). Usually you can do all of your DEERS, MilPDs, and ID paperwork in the same office, killing two birds with one stone. Remember; bring your birth certificate(s), Social Security Card, and your marriage certificate. I would recommend bringing copies of each in the event that they need to keep them.

While enrolling in DEERS and MilPDs, your spouse will need to visit their human resource contact within their squadron or battalion in order to have their pay and BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) changed in respect to their changed dependent status. What’s neat about BAH is that it changes based on location, and grants service members and their families the ability to live outside or in mixed housing.

 After taking care of DEERS and your ID, get added into TRICARE, the healthcare associated with the military. A full outline of the different packages for both enlisted and officers can be found here. Keep in mind that though your active duty service member already has dental, but it is additional for you.

Post all of this paperwork and phone calls and office visits, consult with a lawyer to obtain Power of Attorney. By having POA, you can manage finances, loans, and take care of legal paperwork if your spouse is away for training or deployed.

I would also familiarize yourself with the resources now available to you as a spouse. Besides taking a tour of post or learning about what exactly it is or where your spouse works, but reach out to a Key Spouse or the FRG (Family Readiness Group) about getting involved with your spouse’s unit, and beginning to integrate yourself. You will meet a variety of folks here – both good and bad, comforting and annoying, but the experience itself is what you make of it. And y’all, regardless if you get along with folks or not, at the end of the day, the community that is formed on bases is unlike that of any other; you can’t put it to words how it feels to look around a room, not saying a word, and the woman across knows exactly what you’re going through because she’s been there too. The support is invaluable.

Milspouses, what advice would you give to new spouses? Any tips or ticks to make the process easier? What did you find most valuable as you transitioned into an official SO role? In the meantime, I hope these tips assist you in streamlining your tasks as a new spouse!

Kindly,

 

Randi

Operation: I Do | Military Traditions, and do I Have to do Them?

Randi Fracassi

Welcome to the first installment of a new series here on the blog, Operation: I Do, where we’ll be discussing the different facets regarding military wedding and event planning, including determining formality, the differences between enlisted and officer events, wording paper goods, and etiquette when it comes to the military. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the experience to assist in coordinating and planning numerous military functions between the different branches, and I hope that by sharing this knowledge and the knowledge of other industry professionals, it can help ease the stress of planning for our future Milspouses and their servicemen and women.

We’re kicking off the first part of this series with common military traditions, and answering the question of do you have to incorporate them into your wedding. Though units, squadrons, flights, and battalions could possibly have their own traditions (and therefore be different, especially between branches), we’ll be covering traditions that have been observed between all branches. If you have questions about specific traditions, especially if you want to incorporate those from your service member’s battalion or squadron, be sure to ask your service member, and have them ask their coworkers or DO if they know of anything.

So, onto the traditions, and the pomp and circumstance that you may be wondering about!

The first and foremost, and possibly most photographed when it comes to military weddings, is the saber and rifle arch. The saber and rifle arch is has traditionally been at the end of the ceremony, and operates as a grand exit for the couple. Sabers are strictly reserved for officers, while rifles are used for enlisted members. The team operating the arch almost always where’s pristine, white gloves. If you areconsidering an arch, be sure to inquire at your venue if it’s allowed – as you can imagine, a venue may not be too keen on having operational weapons on their grounds, or the church may ask you to have your arch line up outside.

Saber Arch Captured by  Amy Arrington

Saber Arch Captured by Amy Arrington

Arch of Rifles captured by the  US Army

Arch of Rifles captured by the US Army

Speaking of sabers, it is traditional during the cutting of the cake to use the highest ranking officer’s saber as your cake knife. Now, whether or not you want to be wielding a saber around your beautiful cake will be totally up to you, but if you should decide to go that route, be aware of sanitizing the saber so you’re good to go for eating your first slice and a married couple.

It must also be noted that for seating throughout the reception, if you are doing assigned seating, to do so by rank. For the ceremony, it is also traditional to reserve seats for high ranking attendees (including veterans), and to have their seats reserved by family members. Observing the intricacies of hierarchy is not only following the rules and regulations of the military, but is a generous olive branch in acknowledging the lifestyle of your significant other. 

Another tradition, though more so of just a fun aspect you can incorporate and has become popular in recent years, is that of party shirts. If you've attended a formal event with your service member, you might've noticed a few folks wearing these. Party shirts are generally shirts where the back and sleeves have been replaced by fun fabric, and are commonly seen when folks are in Mess Dress (aka their tuxedo equivalent of a uniform). You can have a lot of freedom with party shirts, especially if your groomsmen are all service members (also, what a neat gift to give them the Day Of!). 

Party Shirts Captured by  Alex M

Party Shirts Captured by Alex M

Finally, the biggest tradition and perhaps most observed is that of wearing their uniform. Whether you decide on black-tie (which would be Mess for your service members) or business casual (which would lend itself to be Service), letting your attendees know what level of formality to expect will keep not only continuity throughout the ceremony and reception, but as someone who is currently serving, your obligated to give that nod. However, much like that of recently separated veterans, your service member is not obligated to wear a uniform at all; it is completely up to you and your future spouse as to that. If your service member is in the Guard or Reserves, it is suggested that they not consider wearing their uniform, or observe many of the traditions outlined above. 

However, the question at large left to answer is should you have these traditions incorporated into your wedding?

And the answer is both yes and no. 

Contrary to what many believe, unless you are not an American citizen, the government does not care who their service members marry. Like a regular job, they still have to report the change in marital status to HR, and you'll have to enroll is DEERS and Tricare, become their Power of Attorney (which I strongly recommend...it's a struggle to pay the bills when you're FIL is still POA and you don't quite have bank accounts sorted out). Though it is generous to invite their coworkers, as you would consider if you were not marrying someone in the military or separated, there is a level of formality and tradition that is expected, and with that comes the uniforms and the arches, and wording your invitations differently (which will be coming soon, I promise!). This is a trial run for the rest of your lives together -- observing, acknowledging, and incorporating the different facets of your service member's life into yours, and knowing that there is something bigger that both of you are going to be a part of. 

I hope this little guide relating to some of the wedding traditions of the military helps you as you plan your big day! As someone who is a Milso and assists future Milspouses regularly, I love sharing this information and helping brides and grooms make sure that all the intricacies and details are followed through, and that they are pulled together in a tasteful and beautiful way. 

Happy planning,

Randi 

The Best Investment You Can Make While Planning Your Wedding

Randi Fracassi

Thought I was gonna say me, huh? As much as I would like to say a wedding planner or coordinator is the best investment you can make or even photography, video, or food, I can’t lie to y’all and say that it is. Though having a planner in your arsenal of vendors can be a great benefit, and more often than not pays for itself in savings, time, and stress, I’m not going to attempt to sell you on those points. However, as I’ve been thinking a lot of the idea of investments and what actually does make a wedding memorable and gives your attendees the wow factor, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

None of it matters.

I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me on this.

The money spent on photography, food, the perfect venue, the most gorgeous dress, the gifts for your bridal party, none of it matters. How your wedding looks or what your guests say about those things, doesn’t matter. Money, after all, is only valid because we believe in the value a fancy piece of cotton and paper holds in the exchange for another thing. I live for the Dr. Suess quote, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”. The material goods, products, and even services on a wedding day mean next to nothing if you don’t make this one key investment.

And that is, the investment into your marriage.

A wedding after all (and I’m taking this from my Christian upbringing on what a wedding is supposed to be) is the covenant exchange between you and your future spouse to build a life together, always support one another, and be each other’s partner in building a life together. Essentially, it could be just you and your spouse making this to each other, and it’s bonafide, the officiate just acts as a witness (thank you, government, for being ever present in the biggest moments of life).

Alas, I digress.

When you have a wedding, you make that promise to each other for your marriage. Whether you use traditional “love, honor, obey, in sickness and in health” vows or write your own, you do make that commitment to listen to each other always, compromise when needed (and equally), take care each other spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and always put each other above yourselves. It’s making hard decisions and little decisions and family and financial choices, as well as dealing with the merging of two separate entities into one (again, thanks government). There’s a whole lot of things that go into this marriage journey, and it’s incredibly different from your dating life, even if you’ve lived together or been with each other for a long time. It’s different and it’s an immediate change.

Setting yourself up for this commitment, for this change in your relationship and this new chapter you are taking with this person who you want to share the rest of your life with is the biggest investment you should be making throughout your engagement. Even if you’re not getting married by a traditional priest or pastor that generally offer counseling services, definitely go through couples therapy and let the therapist know that you’re looking for premarital counseling. Bringing to light the issues or possible issues that will come up as you continue on in your married life together before you’re married will facilitate better and healthier discussions (whether these are arguments, talking about your days, unloading stress or talking about successes), and ensure that when conflicts do arise that you as a couple have that foundation in order to have a healthy way to resolve them.

The idea of investing in premarital counseling can seem like an additional expense, and it is, but in the long run the conversations that arise in the very beginning, and that you’ve already talked about in a safe and moderated environment before you’re juggling bills, kids, work, and other stressors together, will set you and your marriage up for the best success. We’re all trying to beat the 50% statistic of failed marriages here, and the best investment you can make to ensure that your marriage and your life that you are building with your soul mate is undergoing (even if you have to find topics and bring up these conversations yourself)  premarital counseling or therapy, and making sure that your core values and beliefs in how you want your lives to be are on the same page.

I hope this was helpful and enlightening, friends, and I hope that you take into serious consideration the value of having premarital counseling and investing yourself into good, deep conversations in order to set up your marriage in the best way possible.

Happy planning,

Randi

A Personal Post: Why the Military Love

Randi Fracassi

Samuel (my best friend, soul mate, better half...) will officially be Active Duty for the US Air Force in April. He's my rock, my biggest supporter, and best sound board for anything and everything related to business (he, like many men, does not have a single care for anything aesthetic relating to weddings and events, which is ok!). He's my best friend, and I though I'm very supportive of his decision and dreams of joining the Air Force, a part of me is absolutely terrified (I'm sure I'll blog about it in the future, and link back to here). 

Though we've been keeping Samuel's journey relatively low-key, I've always been publicly supportive of the military. I get a lot of questions about why I'm so passionate about our armed forces, and though he's a big reason for it, my passion, love, and ultimate respect starts back into my childhood.

My father is a US Navy Veteran, and for the longest time when I would go the VA with him for his various appointments, I noticed that he was always the youngest guy in the waiting room. Sure, the doctors were about his age, but as far as patients go, we were infants in comparison to the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II folks in the waiting room. Now, Dad is a very sociable man when he wants to be, and when you're in a military hospital, everyone already has some shared characteristics and history to bond over. Though everyone would essentially sit by their battle buddies and others who were around their age, Dad never had an issue talking to other vets and listening. 

And I happened to be listening too. 

You build relationships with these people, and soon you come to recognize them in your comings and goings. You take notice when they haven't shown up in a while. And yeah, they may not always remember you, but there's a comfort in knowing they kinda-sort of think of and ask after you too. That someone with so many other issues will ask about your dolls and the drama of elementary school.  

I'm rambling, forgive me. But I have so many fond memories of Veterans at the VA and the doctors and staff who work so hard to make sure they were, and are, well. 

However, as I got older at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "began" to end, I was aware that Dad was no longer the youngest patient. I think I was 15 or 16 when I first saw a younger patient, and to be honest, I thought he was lost looking for his parent. And then it occurred to me he was checking in to his appointment. This veteran couldn't have been five years older than me...and it shook me to the core. 

And to be honest, as I watched him go take a seat, and watched all the older guys and their groups watch him too, I knew that it disturbed the routine that had been created in our hospital. Things would not be the same, and now everyone knew it. 

After that, I got in contact with a group that sent care packages overseas to those deployed. I couldn't tell you how often I sent socks, deodorant, sanitary napkins, and soap over there. Basic things, but they were always on the list of needed items. I don't tend to lament on the contacts I made or where they were from, but after I received a letter back...I stopped sending packages. 

When I got to college though, I knew I wanted to help and give back in any way I could. I ended up joining the LSU Army Scotch Guard, an all-female auxiliary counterpart to the Army ROTC at LSU. As a Lassie, I was able to work with future officers, give back to the community, and build a sisterhood of likeminded women. It is an experience I do not regret. I still keep in contact with all of my cadets (now officers, they're so grown and doing amazing things for our country!). 

And then I met Samuel, who was not affiliated in any way, shape, or form to the military with the exception of several distant relatives. And when he first mentioned joining the Air Force two years ago, I was wary. I had watched friends and their relationships be tested and fail, and I did not want ours to join them. But, with knowing and loving each other the way that we do, I have no qualms and only a little bit of nervousness about this new chapter and career. 

So yes. This is a summed up, rather personal look, into why I have such a passion and soft spot for our military (and really, all of our folks in uniform). I tend to keep Samuel and my relationship private, but as our life together progresses, I will be sure to keep you updated (especially if and when there's wedding planning involved in our future ;) ). 

Happy planning,

Randi 

2017 Wedding Trends & Nifty Details

Randi Fracassi

2016 brought a lot of gorgeous and neat elements to the wedding table: hand lettered signs, wedding hashtags, Polaroid guest books just to name a few. But as we start planning and attending 2017 weddings, we can't help but share and inspire you with a few of our favorite up and coming trends weddings:

Copper & Rose Gold Accents

We love seeing more and more rose gold rings on our brides, so why not incorporate it into your wedding decor? The tricky part is having a coordinating color: check out below for a few that we think look perfect with these votives from Save On Crafts

Image courtesy of Save On Crafts. Colors are inspired from Pantone. 

Image courtesy of Save On Crafts. Colors are inspired from Pantone. 

How pretty would a rose gold cake look at your reception?! It'd be the perfect statement! If such a statement isn't your thing, use ribbon accents in your bouquet or fabric for table runners. 

Image: Ruffled 

Image: Ruffled 

Image:  Ruffled

Image: Ruffled

Natural Rustic Details

We understand: it's really easy to glass jars for you country, vintage wedding. But couples that love the rustic aesthetic are now beginning to pull in other natural elements into pulling together the look (maybe being inspired by a Mrs. Joanna Gaines?). Take a peek at the use of deer antlers with wooden planters captured by Brinton Studios below, and how this couple used simple garlands and candlelight to decorate their farmhouse tables. 

Bridal Party Proposals

It's nice to ask you closest friends to be in your bridal party in a fun and meaningful way, but with giving robes as a gift now loosing popularity, it's becoming more of a trend to give a gift box usually containing a small alcoholic beverage, a glass to drink said beverage, a piece of jewelry, and a cute note asking them to join the party.

Some alternatives to drinks and glasses would be sunglasses and croakies (perfect for a destination wedding), an agenda with all the important dates (we love giving a Lilly Pulitzer, Happy Planner, or Recollections in personal sizes), or even a clutch or bag that would coordinate with the look for your wedding (it would be sweet to fill it with tissues, mints or gum, and tinted lip balm). 

Image from  Style Me Pretty

Image from Style Me Pretty

As the year progresses, we'll be sure to continue to share our favorite things over on Instagram and of course on Pinterest! Want to learn how to incorporate any of these into your big day? Just let us know!