[quote="CoffeeHound, post:13, topic:212357"]
I think it's a nice idea in theory, but practically, it's not that easy. The majority of cost at any wedding is food. Where I live, for 100 people, you're not getting away with anything less than $10,000 for a meal (and that's nothing fancy, just salad, baked chicken, and cake). And that's not a $100 meal, that's after food tax, sales tax, service fees, and including non-alcoholic drinks. So really the only way to have a "cheap wedding" is to eliminate the food cost.
How can you do that? Either go with an hors d' oeuvres wedding, a potluck wedding, or a wedding with no food at all. And those are fine if everyone is local to your wedding. But these days, it's more common to have groom's family in one city, the bride's family in another city, and the wedding in a third city (where the couple lives). In that case, you're just being (for lack of a better phrase) a poor host if you don't feed guests flying hundreds or thousands of miles that have never been to that city before (and normally you feed them two dinners).
Then add in parishes that charge between $1000 and $2000 for a wedding these days, and it's really hard to have a cheap wedding. "You could always have the wedding during a regular Mass for free". I guess. But now I'm going to ask my grandparents to fly 2000 miles to sit in the back of a standing-room-only church then afterwords go find a Subway or McDonald's for dinner. "You could always not invite those people". You're right. I could elope.
Edit: and someone mentioned a backyard reception - often times those are more expensive than weddings at reception halls. If you don't have enough plates, silverware, chairs, etc. you need to rent those and they aren't cheap. 100 chairs around here will cost you about $1000 (remember to price them with pads, usually they quote you just the bare-bone chairs). Then there's the cost of a tent in case it rains (which runs between $1000 and $4000 here, depending on the time of year and if you need / want air conditioning - and you can't just book it the day-of in case it rains, you have to book a tent months in advance or you're not getting it).
The cheapest receptions are restaurant receptions with the guest list 50 and under. But even then, after church fees, dress, food, etc. you'll be lucky to walk out at a cost under $7500.
I agree with you 100%. A big portion of the cost of weddings that I have attended are incurred in accomodating guests, not trying to placate a snarky bride. Those of us with large families (my Dad has 11 brothers and sisters, and yes I am close to all of them) and a lot of friends want those special people in our lives to share our big day.
I can always put a down payment on a house a few years down the road. I can pay off my student loans one month at a time. But I cannot go back and invite Aunt Jean to my wedding after I cut her off the guest list the first time.