It looks like you have a lot of good answers already but I will throw in my 2 cents since I have done it both ways.
First wedding/marriage was beautiful. Dream dress, dream location, dream decor, etc. etc. it was A BLAST. My friends still say it was the best wedding they had ever attended even though our marriage only lasted a year (young and in love…tend to make dumb decisions). Anyhow…I would say it was a “modest” wedding. Including honeymoon I would say we spent about 15k and that is on everything from dress, suit, flowers, reception, food, beverage, etc. We had about 170 people attend. It was AWESOME!
Like I said the marriage didn’t last (which was for the best in all accounts) and October of 2017 I married the man of my dreams on a beautiful Maui beach, just the 2 of us, in a $500 dress, photographer, wedding planner and officent, $800, and then an intimate meal at one of the best resturants on the island. It was an absolute dream.
Did I regret my first wedding afterward, no. Did I think “wow, that is a lot of money to spend on 1 day”-yes. But we did have everything paid off 9 months after getting married. The regret set in when I realized the marriage was doomed but that is another story.
I just have to say having done it both ways there is something to be said about it being just you and Darling Husband on that day. You don’t have to worry about anyone but yourselves. A wedding is like a show. The bride and groom are kind of like performers. You will feel like you have to look perfect, act perfect, worry about if you talked to this person enough or said hello to every single person that attended. Really it is not about the bride and groom that day. You are entertaining your guests.
Eloping makes it about the two of you. You can focus on eachother. Now, my Darling Husband and I have a million times more chemistry, love, and passion for one another than my ex and I did but we didn’t know that at the time! That does make a huge difference but I still stand by saying a wedding in front of a bunch of people isn’t about the bride and groom at all. To be quite honest I feel like it is just another way to show off.
From your original post it sounds like you know what you should do. You just want to marry your FI! And it sounds like he just wants to be married to you. And that is all that matters. You can still get a beautiful dress, one that you know he will think you are beautiful in because he is the only one whose opinion matters.
I cannot stress the comfortability in it just being an intimate ocassion between two people and you will start off your marriage without the heavyness of debt and can move onto the next chapter without much worry.
Just make sure you take a kick butt honeymoon…or maybe do it in one big swoop! Our marriage, and 2 weeks in Maui cost us about 6k. But it was full of adventures, memories, great food, sun and sand and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Best of luck, bee! Please keep us updated on what you decide!