My guiding principles are these:
- All other things being equal, I'd prefer to throw some kind of party and invite people beyond our immediate family members.
- I refuse to spend much money. Some years ago I heard that the average American wedding costs $10,000. Apparently that figure is now $20,000. I believe that number (if you want to be very afraid, go to the comments on this post), but that's not our ball game.
- A church wedding. Although the Catholic church fucks up almost everything having to do with sex, sexuality, and gender, I think it gets some important things right in defining marriage as a sacrament. (Also: my church is gorgeous. Church wedding = pagentrial loveliness for very little $$.)
- As for the reception, my values are these: open bar, good music, and enough food to keep people on the dance floor and from passing out drunk.
I don't care about flowers, photography, or a sit-down meal, much less about hair & makeup or a big white dress. Other people have other values, and that's fine; I get why those with larger budgets might pay upwards of $3,000 for a great photographer. But I really dislike the fact that there seem to be three dominant wedding discourses in this country: you're a traditionalist, or you're "making your own traditions," or you care fuck-all about weddings.
The first two tend to amount to the same thing, and often the same price: every detail is imagined as having huge personal significance and reflecting the couple's unique taste and sensibility--whether it's a princessy dress and 12 attendants in matching frocks and tailcoats or a rockabilly biker theme.
And if you're not consumed by such details, you're imagined as someone who officially Doesn't Care About Weddings, and you get married at City Hall.
All three kinds of weddings can be lovely, but they're not the only (or mutually-exclusive) options. Dudes. I'm getting married in a church in a blue-green cocktail dress from the 1960s. There will be a bunch of people and a party in a rented space, but it might involve hamburgers, an iPod, and former students acting as bartenders. That's not my special uniqueness; that's just what's happening.