The biggest day of your life doesn't need to be the most expensive day of your life. Here, real brides reveal why they decided to go casual for their big day!
"Initially, we were set to have an all stops out wedding. Then we ran the numbers and decided we didn't want to put ourselves into debt for what was essentially one party. So we canceled the venue and started from scratch. We married in my parents' backyard with the 50 people closest in the world as witnesses. It was a fabulous afternoon and our splurge was a big, fancy honeymoon in Fiji." —Beth
"I'm a soon-to-be-bride who is having a very casual wedding with a price tag of under $1,000, no bridal party, no catering hall or gourmet food. The reception is being held at our favorite Mexican food place where most of the options are tacos! Neither my fiancé nor I are into lots of attention, but we do want to celebrate with close family and friends. By having a small wedding, we'll be able to give all our guests individual attention, host a small, special brunch the following day, and overall have less stress." —Melissa
"My husband Hugo and I married in our Brooklyn backyard in August 2015.
We'd recently finished renovating our brownstone home, so wanted to share our new space with 60 close friends and family. We had a talent show, taco truck, and a potluck snack bar. I wore a $100 dress I bought seven years ago, and we both had the best day because there was no pressure at all." —Kate
"We'd had huge weddings the first time around but our marriages crashed and burned. This time the focus was on us, not the party. We went to the Justice of the Peace, then for a special celebration brunch with our witnesses." *—Sammi *
"Before getting engaged I'd witnessed big weddings close up as I'd been a bridesmaid six times. To me, all too often the wedding day appeared not to be about the bride and groom but everyone else, because absolutely everyone has an opinion about how your day should be. And in the long run who's going to remember the color of your flowers or what the DJ played? Ron and I skipped all that and eloped to Hawaii. It was pure bliss and I have no regrets." —Anita
"We moved our wedding date up by a year when my fiancé's dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. The whole thing was planned in 10 days from the ceremony at my parents' house for 20 people to the reception at the restaurant where Ron had proposed. The day was lovely, the booze was free flowing, the music got everyone up on the dance floor, and most important three years later my husband's dad is still with us. Do I regret not having the wedding we originally planned? A little but the day felt so special and intimate I wouldn't change a thing." —Wendy
"My best friend's wedding cost $40,000. While it was spectacular, she's now complaining about being in debt. My husband and I spent $300. Jim and I are very informal — he doesn't own a suit and I hardly ever wear a skirt! We got married in a private park and had a picnic lunch for the guests. Friends of ours who are in a band serenaded us. Oh, I wore shorts and a veil! In short, it was perfect." —Megan
Sherry Amatenstein is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.