The Military Spouse Bridal Shower We Should Throw
My wedding was full of beautiful military traditions that represented my entrance into the military community. Meaningful as they were, though, there were a few helpful things missing. If we’re going to throw a bridal shower for a new military spouse, we should give them the tools they’ll really need.
For those marrying a service member, here is a fictional bridal shower experience that mimics a few of the things that happens in military life.
Hurry Up and Wait
To start off with the right tone, we should stress beforehand that it is vital that our soon-to-be military spouse arrives at the shower at the exact start time. After repeated reminders, we should call two hours before that start time and share that we’ve moved the shower to later that evening.
Military life is full of both urgency and waiting, often at the same time. PCS moves, deployments, military hospitals — they are all characterized by both insistence that we act on the military’s timeline and the inevitability of that timeline changing.
White Walls and DIY Decor
Continuing our parody of military life, in preparation for rental homes and on-base housing, this bridal shower must take place in a plain, white-walled room. Ideally, that room would have irregular dimensions with either much more or less space than the number of attendees requires.
Our brand new spouse should be responsible for her own decorations, although we can provide a box full of not quite matching curtains in a range of sizes and lengths. As party favors, we could give Command, damage-free hooks. As Kaitlyn Sosebee says, “Filling in the holes on walls every time you have to move gets old really fast.”
Guest seating at this imaginary shower should consist of metal folding chairs, camp chairs and mostly inflated air mattresses. From “mandatory fun” to family support meetings, those metal folding chairs are an always-present aspect of military family life. Camp chairs and air mattresses are key to navigating that gap between our household goods being packed out and the actual move; in fact, they’ll make an excellent wedding gift for our new military spouse to take, after the shower!
Let’s Talk Gifts
We want our spouse-to-be to embark on military life as equipped as possible. Shower gifts offer the perfect opportunity to stock up on those things they don’t know they need! I rounded up my favorite milspouse experts for their favorite gifts to prepare the new military spouse.
Roadside Assistance Membership
We all know the car will break down the week our new spouse’s service member leaves for training or deployment. Let’s make sure that roadside assistance card is in the wallet!
The Prepared Spouse Kit
The prepared spouse kit should include a toilet plunger, wrench, hammer and power drill because every military spouse is going to need them sooner rather than later (and you might find yourself fixing a fence, while he’s sleeping during the day while on night shift). — Anna Rabe, consultant.
Blogger Sybil Jones suggested adding on a stack of old towels for the inevitable plumbing issue clean up during deployment.
Wine of the Month Club Subscription
While the Wine of the Month Club has been the punchline of many jokes, it was enthusiastically recommended by consultant Randi Cairns, blogger Meg Flanagan, and Britni Miltner, founder of MilSpouse Resource. The wine could be needed during whatever issue results in opening the Prepared Spouse Kit.
A Box of Binders
Despite all of the efforts to go green, the military world still requires a lot of paperwork. Copies of orders, powers of attorney, common phone numbers, a list of all the zip codes we’ve lived at for when we’re paying for gas — we need a way to keep all that paper organized. As a bonus, one of those binders will be the perfect storage for a Deployment Binder because we all like to pretend we have everything under control during a deployment.
Advice about “those” photos
Kim Mills, my favorite Canadian milspouse representative, went there and suggested “a bottle of wine and instructions on how to send the photos in the safest way possible.” You know the photos she’s talking about, right? The ones that our new spouse definitely doesn’t want accidentally downloaded on their service member’s down range shared drive.
All the gift certificates
There are so many services that will come in handy for our new spouse that there is no shortage of effort-free gift giving. Sarah Gates, the author of Servant Mama, swears by a gift certificate to pest control. From Fort Stewart’s palmetto bugs to Elmendorf AFB’s super-sized Alaska bugs, meeting the local insect population is one of the less pleasant perks of military relocation. Molly Fiedler agreed with the gift certificate suggestion, but opts for maid service or waxing because both might be equally necessary at the end of a long training or deployment. We wouldn’t want our new military spouse to have to choose between the two!
A Warm Welcome
While all of these suggestions would be useful for the military spouse-to-be, it all comes down to one basic principle: we should take the time and make the effort to welcome new spouses. With a new language of acronyms, the inevitability of moving away from friends and family and the immediate marital intrusion by the DoD, marrying a service member is like jumping feet first into cold water. Immersion is intense and often shocking.
A hello, an invitation for coffee or a genuine offer of assistance can make all the difference in how a new spouse experiences military life. When you meet a brand new or soon-to-be military spouse, you are helping to set the tone for how they perceive our military community. We are all busy. We are spread thin. But we’ve also all been there — new, confused, and trying to sift through both too much and too little information at the same time. We may not be able to throw a shower for every new milspouse, but we can offer the gift of a warm welcome.
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