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We skipped on the ceremony, neither of us like being up in front of people or a lot of formality. We each made a list of about ten people from our own side of the family and some mutual friends, rented out the top floor of our favorite cafe (who also did the catering and had a small PA setup we could use). Everyone dressed up and we had a very nice dinner party together. Not more than $2500 I think, but it's been a while and I don't remember.
I don't know who you feel you need to impress, but I personally feel you should have the Wedding you want for yourselves and invite the people that love you to share in the occasion. Don't worry about what you are "supposed" to do.