I recently got engaged to my partner of over two years, Zoe. I proposed at the same table we first met at in a cocktail bar in Bath (The Earl).
Obviously, talk then turned to marriage plans.
But at the same time, another conversation was emerging: moving in to together, selling houses and all that this entails.
Mindful of the fact we both have children, we agreed that, whilst excited about getting married, we did not want that to overshadow the bigger life event of us all living together for them.
So the big plan is to move in together and then tie the knot, which means 2016 is now the year we will become husband and wife.
One evening when we were children free, we started talking about our wedding. To my surprise, Zoe, who if I may use the expression is 'a very girlie, girl', was completely practical about everything.
Conversation started with the venue; big little or registry office? As we have both been married before, we wanted to share the day with a smaller circle than perhaps would have otherwise been the case. Hiring out our favourite restaurant for the evening, so that the moment shared was more intimate, had instant appeal.
Then Zoe mentioned about a destination wedding. The idea of jetting off to say 'I do' on a beach started to tick all the boxes.
When we then started chatting to friends, they were a little surprised I hadn't immediately suggested it, given that I run a company which helps couples to marry abroad by assisting with their legal paperwork.
Their comment really got me thinking about not just Zoe and I, but the whole journey other couples go on. Opinion seemed to be split. Some always wanted to marry abroad and had a specific location in mind, whilst others who liked the idea of marrying overseas weren't overly fussy – they just wanted sunshine.
As Zoe had no particular destination in mind but loved the idea of sunshine, how do you reach a decision on exactly where? This, as the title suggests, is where the zig zag path starts!
Do you rely on recommendations from friends? Look at what's hot (bad pun) and what's not or what's the 'in' place? Is your decision made for you based on budget? The last point is always going to be a key factor, whoever you are.
With family commitments and the endless juggling of life, while always wanting to do the best for your loved one, you undoubtedly end up having to look at things maybe a bit harder than normal.
The most popular destinations we at TLC UK get asked to translate and legalise legal paperwork for are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Greece. Therefore, those became my first ports of call.
Looking at it a bit more closely, the costs for two divorcees (which Zoe and I are) planning to get married in those destinations I mentioned earlier vary. Based on the national guidelines of each country, the cost of complying with legal requirements for translation and legalisation of your documents ranges from £326 to £1,415 before you even start adding in VAT.
In everyday language, does a swing of nearly £1,100 on legalities make the decision for you? At best, it focuses the mind. That is an extreme, though.
Upon closer inspection, two divorcees thinking of getting married in Greece or the Dominican Republic would contemplate a price difference of £575, while the legal paperwork costs of a Greek wedding and a wedding in Cuba are almost identical (a difference of about £40).
Why the big differences? Well put simply, it is the fees charged by the various national embassies for legalising the documents and the amount of documents they legalise. Recent changes in the Dominican Republic requirements have forced the prices up. Not for individual documents but the actual number required – twice as many to be precise.
So just on that aspect of planning a perfect wedding abroad, would a £500 to £1,000 budget saving influence you if you didn't have your heart set on anywhere in particular?
I'm sure we all could think of something to spend that kind of saving on anyway, which might make the difference on creating that extra touch or moment, if location isn't the deal breaker.
For now anyway, 2015 is about family and making sure the life event for them is key. 2016 will be mine and Zoe's year for becoming husband and wife.
Written by Darren Elliott
Images courtesy of nuttakit, noppasinw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net / AthanasiosPapadopoulos