How The Navy Made Me Cancel My Wedding
tagged: new spouse, military life, relationships, family
The day I chose my wedding gown stands out as one of the most exciting of my life. On a crisp, winter Saturday morning, five months ahead of my wedding, my mother, stepmother and I met for breakfast and then made our way to a bridal salon in lovely Haddonfield, New Jersey. This particular salon had been highly recommended by my Matron of Honor, and we were not disappointed. The service, atmosphere and selection of gowns were stunning, and it took less than two hours to settle on the gown that was simply perfect!
That day was also the one and only day on which I got to wear that beautiful, perfect wedding gown.
My boyfriend (now husband), Dan, and I were fortunate to be able to speak by phone a few times a week while he was in Pensacola being beaten into the ground by a USMC Drill Instructor, er… attending Officer Candidate School. It was during one of these conversations in January 1995 that Dan asked me to marry him. After a two-year courtship, we knew we would be headed to the altar at some point, but once we experienced that first military separation, the decision to make things official took on a new sense of urgency. (Unbeknownst to me, Dan had already sent a letter to my father, asking for his permission. The letter Dan received in response remains one of his - and my - most treasured possessions, especially now that my father has been gone for nearly 12 years.) Dan was set to graduate from OCS in May and then return home to Philadelphia to spend the summer on Recruiting Duty before reporting to Nuclear Power School in Orlando in September. We chose July 15 as our wedding day, and I began to plan in earnest.
While this condensed schedule provided me less than six months to plan our wedding, I knew I could make it happen. Within a few days of Dan’s asking and my answering, I had set up a tabbed binder with sections labeled, “Guests,” “Invitations and Stationery,” “Contracts,” “Music,” “Flowers” and several more. I was lucky to know a great local stationer who was able to help me select and order invitations on a rush basis. My father was friends with a local jeweler who stunned me into silence as he poured out a bag of loose diamonds in front of me, sorted them into “lousy, okay and great”, and custom-designed the engagement ring than Dan had sketched out on the back of an envelope.
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