I've written my own cost cutting wedding posts and featured guest posts from others here. But, what I would like to turn your attention too is advice that is commonly given when there are expectation differences when planning a wedding.
That advice basically reads as such: spend the money for the sake of peace, so that the chatan/kallah will not feel uncomfortable around her friends and feel *deprived*, or so that the in-laws with greater needs will not be embarrassed in front of their friends. Such advice was given by a BeyondBT commentor who writes the following:
[Those] with the benefit of a mature point of view, it is fine to say that the gift-giving is out of hand, trite, etc. And you are correct. But, please realize that often the Kallah is in the 18-22 year old range and lacks that maturity. It is important not to make her uncomfortable with her friends by depriving her of at least some of the jewelry she may be expecting. It can, however, be on the lower priced end of the spectrum (You might want to look into a treated diamond for the ring). But you don’t want to create a feeling of resentment that can last many, many
And I don’t want to hear comments about how, if she is mature enough to get married, etc. etc. There are different levels of maturity, and sometimes we just need life experience to teach us about what is not important in long run.
While I certainly do believe that wedding planning between the couple (novel, I know to involve them) and their respective parents should be undertaken in the spirit of shalom and reasonable and prudent generosity, I want to present an idea that I have yet to see mentioned in discussions of how to approach the "gashmius factor." In nearly every discussion I've been privy too regarding wedding negotiations, there is recognition of the legitimacy of the needs of the parties that expects more. But, I have never seen recognition of the needs of the parties that would like less.
Certainly there is some recognition that money is limited and that a family might only have so much to give. But, I'm looking beyond that. I'm addressing the deep seeded values regarding consumption, ostentation, and modesty. Simply put, there are some families that just aren't comfortable throwing that type of affair. And, that holds true even if they do have the financial means to make such an affair.
Orthodox culture is not, by any means, the only culture that deals with the "gashmius factor." In fact there are populations that put on far more ostentation in their affairs. Try, if you can, to imagine that your own son or daughter was marrying in a ceremony for which the future mechutanim were high income, or even average income Indian family (average cost of an Indian wedding significantly exceeds the income range for a middle income family, sometimes many times over, not including valuables or cash given as part of the dowry), expecting to spend a minimum of mid-five figures and in all likelihood well into the six figures for a grand affair.
My guess is that even families who walk in lock step with what is expected re: Orthodox/Chassidish/Yeshivish weddings, would feel highly uncomfortable engaging in the over-the-top wedding spending patterns prevalent in certain Asian and Eastern cultures.
As such, I think it is important that when families sit down to plan a simcha, that they respect the limitations of the parties who don't care to walk in lock step with whatever is the latest and greatest for young Orthodox couples. For some, the gift expectations alone might be akin to asking them to procure an elephant for the wedding processional.