Congrats and it sound like you are starting out right. Listen to the guys on the forum, the are very, very knowledgable. I have an advantage that I am somewhat ( ) familar with firearms, but not in all the platforms that DZ likes. Just listen to your guy and pick up on the little things that he says. There probably won't be any gun shows between now, and when you get married, but there are plenty of resources in the Houston area, and even though they are "looking to make the sale", a gun store that doesn't feel "slimey" or condencending to you will be a load of help too. Not everyone is just out there to make a buck. A good, mid-range Ar will give him lots of room to customize and make it jus the way that he wants. You don't have to go with the most expensive, but don't go with the cheapest either. Your price range should be just about right. As for the .22 conversion, it can always be added later. I would go with the .556/.223 platform it is very customizable. If you have any other questions, please feel free to PM me.