OP, what gets everyone here as that so many wives come here and claim their circumstances were special or different or hard and they feel they are entitled to a big traditional wedding. They aren't. No one is. But everyone (almost everyone) has the right to be married. You had a wedding and chose to forgo the traditional wedding route, that's an adult choice to make and you married the love of your life.
I think its awesome that you're taking advice so maturely. There is nothing wrong with having a vow renewal but even then I'd skip the bridal parties, firsts, pre wedding parties, etc. I'd probably go with a simpler wedding dress too. I don't see the issuing with renewing vows after one comes back from war if its done in the proper manner. Otherwise, skip the renewal and throw a huge party and celebrate the fact that you're married and back together in one place. Nothing wrong with that!
After 6 years and 2 boys, finally tying the knot on October 27th, 2013!
You should post this on the Special Topic board called "Military Brides":