Just trying to get some thoughts.
I apologize for this being on the long side... it's a bit complicated... And I know this is a touchy topic for some, but please bear with me, as it's important to me...
Quick background info...
I'm American, my fiance is Croatian. We live and work in Europe, but abroad - NOT in either of our home countries. (We are gone about 7 and a half months of the year for work.)
We are in the US each year in Nov/Dec. We are in Croatia each year January thru mid-March. The rest of the year is when we're away working.
We have our wedding booked (venue contract and deposit made) for next year in May in my fiance's hometown in Croatia. (We will take a short period off from work to go back to Croatia for the wedding.) His family and friends are NOT able to go to a wedding in the US. My family and friends CAN go to Croatia.
Just a couple days ago we went to the office here in his town that handles weddings so we could find out what paperwork we needed. (Wanted to give ourselves LOTS of time.)
Well, the bureaucracy is a nightmare, mostly because of our work situation creating a HUGE problem with the time line Croatia requires for the paperwork. A nightmare!!! His paperwork is obviously the easy part. Mine is the colossal nightmare, because I'm the foreigner here. It's so tough, that the people in the office just told us we'd be better off getting married in the US and just "have a party" in Croatia. Even though that sounds easierI honestly do not think that half the guest list will make a trans-Atlantic flight and pay for a big European trip for "just a party." (So essentially, I would suspect that would mean I'd really not have any one from my side there if we chose that option.)
What's involved with the paperwork? I need all NEWLY issued documents dated March 1st or later next year. (Birth cert, divorce decree, notarized proof of address.) Which means my mom has to drive all around the county to get the newly issued documents (as I'm not in the US at that time), then the next day she has to drive to the state capital to get all those documents certified with an Apostile Stamp. The Apostile stamp is crucial. Then they must be rush delivered to Croatia. (Anyone familiar with international shipping will understand my nervousness with that portion of the equation.) Once they get here, we must have them officially translated into Croatian by the court. Then we must appear before the embassy in Croatia to have the US approve the legality of our marriage. (We'll need to make an appt 2-3 months in advance for that, NOT knowing when the docs will arrive - we'll have to guess. The embassy is in Croatia's capital - about two hours away.) Then we have to take all those docs to the local marriage office. Bear in mind, all these steps will cost a big ol' chunk of change. AND we leave for work in mid-March. That gives us approximately a two week period for all of this! (Not to mention the amount we'll be required to pay for the court ordered translator who must be present at our wedding because I am not Croatian.)
Just for the heck of it, we looked into eloping in Vegas. All we need are our IDs and $60. (Looked up flights from my home state - looks to be way cheaper than the price of the court translator we would have to pay to be at the Croatian wedding.) My fiance's passport is the only thing he needs as a foreigner! If we did this option, we would tell NO ONE, and then just go on with the wedding in Croatia as planned, but without all the bureaucracy that goes along with it. We would just have someone perform a symbolic ceremony. (But we would be the only ones who knew it was symbolic - the elopement would be kept a strict secret.)
I just feel however, that choosing that option (albeit much easier) would ruin the specialness of the day that we already have booked. And the elopement would have to be secret, or no one would come to the wedding we already have planned. I personally feel like walking down the aisle with all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it will feel fake if we're already married. My fiance is totally fine with a secret elopement and the "wedding" six months later, I'm the one who isn't so sure. But he is happy and ready to do whatever I want. (He's super awesome like that!)
We're really gonna try to make the official one happen in Croatia - bureaucracy and all. We're just understandably worried that we won't be able to make it all work within the extremely narrow time frame we have. And when we asked if we could file for the marriage license with all my docs the week before the wedding (when we'll be coming from work), we were told that it would be too close to the date and probably wouldn't be processed in time. (THEN what would we do???)
Anyway, just looking at all the options. It's all so overwhelming.... Thoughts? Opinions? Thanks all!