Military Marriage Checklist: Ensuring a Strong Foundation

Feb 11, 2024 | Military Wedding, Wedding

Entering into a military marriage is a significant life decision that requires careful consideration and preparation. While the commitment to serve one’s country is noble, it also brings unique challenges to your relationship. For instance, navigating deployment, basic training, and frequent relocations can be stressful! In this article, we’ll delve into a comprehensive military marriage checklist, offering valuable insights and practical advice to help couples navigate this journey successfully.


Military Marriage Checklist

Before walking down the aisle and starting your life together as a military couple, it’s essential to ensure that you’ve covered all the necessary bases. Here’s a checklist to help guide you through the process of a military marriage:

✅Getting your marriage license 

Applying and getting your marriage license is the first step in the process of getting married. Here’s what you need to know:

Check Local Requirements: Research the marriage license requirements in the jurisdiction where you plan to get married. Each state or country may have different regulations regarding age, identification, waiting periods, and fees.

Residency: Some states have residency requirements that may affect your ability to get a marriage license. Make sure you meet these requirements before applying. For example, some states require you to live in the state for a period of 90 days prior to applying for marriage. (Not to worry, most states have Armed Forces considerations for residency).

Application Process: Complete the marriage license application form provided by the local marriage license office. You may need to apply together in person, so plan accordingly.

Documentation: Bring all necessary documentation with you when applying for the marriage license. This may include birth certificates, divorce decrees (if applicable), and any other required paperwork.

Waiting Period: Be aware of any mandatory waiting periods between obtaining the marriage license and the actual marriage ceremony. Factor this into your wedding planning timeline.

Fees: Expect to pay a fee for the marriage license. The amount varies by jurisdiction, so inquire about the cost beforehand.

Marriage License Expiration Date: Marriage licenses typically have an expiration date. This means you need to get married within a certain timeframe after getting your marriage license. Ensure your wedding date falls within this period to avoid any issues with an expired marriage license.


✅Premarital counseling 

Premarital counseling is a valuable resource for military couples preparing to wed. This form of counseling typically involves sessions with a trained therapist or counselor who helps couples explore and discuss various aspects of their relationship before tying the knot. The primary goal of premarital counseling is to strengthen the couple’s bond, enhance communication skills, and identify potential areas of conflict. Through guided discussions, couples can address topics such as communication styles, financial management, conflict resolution, family dynamics, and expectations for the future. By engaging in premarital counseling, couples can gain insights into each other’s values, beliefs, and goals, ultimately laying a solid foundation for a healthy and fulfilling marriage. 

Additionally, premarital counseling may fulfill requirements set by religious institutions or legal jurisdictions, and it can provide a supportive environment for addressing any concerns or apprehensions before saying “I do.” Overall, premarital counseling empowers military couples with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the challenges and joys of military married life together.


✅Marriage ceremony planning 

Military marriage ceremony planning involves unique considerations due to the military status of one or both partners. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning the marriage ceremony: 

Location and Venue: First things first, choose a location for the ceremony that suits your preferences and accommodates any military requirements. This could be a military chapel, a civilian venue, or even a destination wedding location. 

Incorporation of Military Traditions: Decide on whether or not you want to incorporate military traditions such as the Arch of Sabers or a military salute. 

Uniform: If one or both partners are in the military, decide whether to wear uniforms for the ceremony. Ensure that uniforms have any alterations made well in advance.

Guest List and Invitations: Compile a guest list and send out invitations in a timely manner. Consider any travel arrangements that may need to be made, especially if guests are coming from out of town or if the ceremony is taking place on a military installation.

Logistics and Rehearsal: Coordinate logistical details such as transportation, parking, and rehearsal schedules. If the ceremony is taking place on a military base, ensure that guests have the necessary identification and clearances to access the installation.

Officiant: Choose an officiant who is authorized to perform marriages in the jurisdiction where the ceremony will take place. Work with the officiant to customize the ceremony to reflect your personal beliefs and preferences, while also incorporating any military traditions or rituals.

Reception Planning: Plan the reception following the ceremony, taking into account factors such as catering, entertainment, and decor. Coordinate with vendors and venues to ensure a seamless transition from the ceremony to the reception.

Photography and Videography: Hire a photographer and/or videographer to capture the special moments of the ceremony and reception. Consider any military-specific photo opportunities, such as formal portraits in uniform or with military equipment.

Budgeting and Financial Planning: And arguably most importantly, create a budget for the wedding and stick to it to avoid overspending. Consider any military-related benefits or discounts that may be available to help offset costs.


✅Inform chain of command, if necessary

Informing the chain of command may be an important step in military branches. This process involves notifying higher-ranking officials within one’s military unit or organization about significant life events or circumstances that may affect one’s service or responsibilities. 


✅Submit paperwork for marriage certificate 

Once you are officially married, you’ll need to submit paperwork to obtain an official marriage certificate. This process may be different depending on which state you are in, but it generally involves completing and submitting the necessary documentation to the appropriate government office or agency responsible for registering marriages in the jurisdiction where the ceremony took place. The paperwork typically includes completing an application form and having it notarized, providing identification, and going in person or mailing in the paperwork. 

This certificate serves as proof of marriage and may be needed for various purposes, including changing last names, updating legal documents, or accessing military benefits.


✅Update ID cards 

Making sure all of your ID cards, such as Driver’s License and Passport reflect the proper married name may be an important task to do ASAP, especially if one spouse is set to deploy soon. Making sure the newlyweds have the proper names on their IDs is essential to facilitating a smooth transition into military married life and opening up access to various military marriage benefits.

✅Create power of attorney

Something else to consider is granting each other power of attorney to make legal and financial decisions on each other’s behalf, especially if deployments or other circumstances may require it. This includes filling out legal paperwork and you likely need assistance from an attorney to complete it properly.


✅Beneficiary designations 

Another thing to consider once married is adding one another to certain beneficiary designations, such as life insurance or trusts. This can help provide for a spouse who relies on their military partner in any unfortunate situation. 


✅Apply housing arrangements

Once you have a marriage certificate, you may qualify for certain housing benefits or arrangements. For example, now that you are married, you may qualify for Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) or other housing assistance programs.


✅Deployment preparedness

Military couples should ensure they have completed all necessary administrative tasks before deploying. This includes updating wills, powers of attorney, and beneficiary designations to ensure their affairs are in order. On a personal level, deploying service members should also consider making arrangements for family care, including childcare, financial management, and emotional support networks. 


✅Apply for healthcare coverage

Depending on your military branch and status, healthcare coverage for a new spouse is likely not automatic. You and your new spouse will need to understand your healthcare benefits and enrollment options and then apply to ensure access to medical care for the whole family. 


Final Thoughts

Navigating the complexities of military marriage requires proactive planning, effective communication, and a strong support network. By following the comprehensive checklist and implementing the strategies outlined in this article, military couples can build a resilient and fulfilling partnership that withstands the challenges of military life.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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