Next stop: the Party Train. First, we hosted a party for about 30 close friends at a family-style Italian place. Invitations by E-vite. We paid for the food and wine, and a friend baked our cake. We placed pictures of the ceremony on all the tables. I had sweated for months to select meaningful songs to make into mixed CD as favors for our guests. What was most special to me was my 4 closest friends, who would have been my bridesmaids, coming out the day before the party. They threw me a post-wedding bachelorette party (a very clean one :), and we nursed our hangovers next morning at the Tallgrass Spa in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Cost of "reception", favors, and spa day - about $1300.
We then had a small family party in Oklahoma City, courtesy of MIL. Then, another small family party in New Jersey (timed to coincide with another wedding we had to go to), courtesy of my uncle. Cost: plane tickets and gas for 2 (in 2004) - about $500. Not sure if I should count this expense since we would have made these trips anyway, but what the heck.
Total estimated cost: $3000. I realize that this might seem expensive to some people. But compared to the average of $20K, and compared to the beautiful but extravagant weddings that most of our friends and family have hosted, it is much less. (With the money we saved, we went to Kauai for 2 weeks.)
Once everything was over, I was so happy we had decided to do it the way that we did. Way reduced carbon emissions for reduced plane travel. Way reduced consumption of frivolous items. Way reduced financial impact on my parents, guests, and ourselves. And most of all, we had the satisfaction of having fun, not stress, on our wedding day.