Going the Distance

Civilian couples often can plan their weddings according to their own schedules. Yet those who plan to marry while also serving in the military don’t have the same luxury. That’s why these couples often have two wedding celebrations. Newburgh, Ind., natives A.J. and Elizabeth Jackson did just that in 2012.

The pair met in junior high school and shared mutual friends at Castle High School in Newburgh. After Elizabeth graduated in 2005, she moved to Los Angeles to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. A.J., who graduated from Castle in 2006, joined the Army after one year at the University of Southern Indiana. Elizabeth and A.J. often would see one another when they returned to their hometown, and they began dating Elizabeth’s junior year of college.

A.J. proposed to Elizabeth on Dec. 20, 2011. It was her birthday and four years to the day from their first kiss. The spot was on the riverfront in downtown Newburgh, where they shared many special memories. A.J. had waited for that perfect moment until after he had formally asked Elizabeth’s father for her hand in marriage.

Two and a half years ago, Elizabeth moved to Fort Bragg, N.C., where A.J. was stationed, and finished her last year of law school at UNC Chapel Hill. The original wedding date was set for May 26, 2012, Memorial Day weekend. But because of the military’s unpredictable scheduling, the couple learned in January 2012 that A.J. would be in the field training on that original date. Elizabeth and A.J. made the decision to exchange vows and become husband and wife on Feb. 8, 2012, at a courthouse in Fayetteville, N.C. They then shared a dinner at the restaurant where they had their first date in North Carolina, when Elizabeth first visited A.J. in 2008.

The couple held a second wedding ceremony with family and friends in snow-covered Evansville on Dec. 27, 2012. Elizabeth and A.J. renewed their vows before friends and family at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Downtown Evansville. The wedding colors were blue and white with silver accents, in partial tribute to a brilliant sapphire ring that had belonged to Elizabeth’s grandmother and that Elizabeth wore for the ceremony.

The reception was held at the Evansville Country Club. With flowers from Barbara’s Bloomers, tuxedos from Men’s Warehouse, photos by Studio B, and food catered by the Country Club, Elizabeth said all vendors were very accommodating and understanding of the rescheduled wedding. Elizabeth wore a Vera Wang dress, purchased in Nashville, Tenn.

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