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Late to the game. I did this earlier this year and just this month in Norway AND Fairbanks, Alaska. In Norway, you can check out the Hurtigruten cruise. You can hop on anywhere along their route and depart anywhere. I recommend Tromso for the lights. But, you can hop on in Bergen and head up to Tromso or you can start in Tromso and make your way down. Or you can do land only. Thon hotels, as well as Scandic or Radisson Blu, are decent quality and priced well. Norwegian Air Shuttle flights are cheap!
In Fairbanks, I recommend Chena Hot Springs. I usually stay in downtown Fairbanks (a work thing), but Chena has a lodge. I personally feel there is more to see/do in Norway than Fairbanks. You can't really get into some of the gorgeous national park areas in March. While Norway is super expensive once you are there, I feel like getting to Alaska can be just as expensive, especially if you can fly Norwegian Air to Oslo.
I really don't understand why people think it is so difficult to make a marriage legal in Mexico. So, there are two things- being there ~3 days before the ceremony and the blood test. Many resorts will act as a middle man for the paperwork to reduce the time frame you need to be in country and even do onsite blood tests.
However, one thing specifically gets me - the 3 day in-country requirement. Most couples I know took around that same amount of time off before their local weddings for preparations/last minute issues. I'm pretty sure blood tests and paperwork would fall into that preparation category. Also, if guests are traveling overseas for the wedding, they are most likely taking 2-3 days off prior to the ceremony to be there to witness it (a day of traveling, a day of buffer in case of a delayed flight). So, if your guests have to do it, you can too!
I personally did not get married the day I stepped foot in Australia. We did not have a residency requirement because of the paperwork done up front (amazing what can be coordinated from afar), but I wanted that time to beat jet lag, relax, and have time to sort out any last minute details (meeting my photographer for the first time, meeting the wedding coordinator for the first time, etc). I really liked having that time to just enjoy my H before he really became my H!!
The 10k is how much we (couple) can contribute max.
From my family, my mother will be able to match us with another 10k.
We have not yet had a chance to sit down with his family to determine numbers.
If your mom volunteered the additional $10K and you have it in hand, then $20K is completely sufficient to have a really nice wedding at home (at home being where you would marry if you didn't have a DW- either where you live or your families live). You should be able to properly host all 120 guests without the guests having to shell out thousands of dollars to stay at a resort.
Also, it sounds like you aren't expecting any financial contributions from his side. So, if that's the case, you can just invite everyone who attended the engagement party and don't engage his family in any conversations about it. It's a total etiquette win.
I would describe myself as conservative, not flashy, and dresses simply. I barely wear a stitch of make up, love wearing flip flops all of the time, and usually keep my hair pulled up in a pony tail. I wear a size 4 ring. My e-ring diamond is larger in size and it doesn't really seem to match my personality per se, but I LOVE it! However, it's all very much a personal preference. So, I wouldn't recommend just doing it if you aren't sure she'd like it. I recommend just talking to her about it. Yes, it ruins the surprise, but there are just some things that require a little more discussion IMHO.