Some (not necessarily all) of the people who feel compelled to tell you how much money they saved by NOT doing things that you’re doing could just be trying to make themselves feel better that they didn’t end up having some of the things you’ve decided to have. They may not have done certain things because of a lack of available budget, or their FIs or parents weren’t supportive of the ideas, etc., not just because those things weren’t or aren’t important to them. However, I do agree with Soladylike that people cannot comment on what they do not know, so, it’s best not to share too many specific details with people unless you don’t mind them offering their opinions.
Although you do not owe anyone an explanation, I totally understand your wanting to be armed with a few positive and friendly “talking points” when something such as this happens, so that the conversation doesn’t turn negative or so that you just don’t have to resort to an uncomfortable silence.
When you receive comments such as those you’ve mentioned, you could respond in a very sweet and polite manner, while still affirming your choice to spend your money they way that you and your Fiance desire. For example:
“Nothing against your wedding but I’m glad I got married in court because we saved alot of money.”
Response: “I bet that DID save a lot of money, and I’m so glad you and (her DH) were able to have the type of wedding you wanted. I realize that some people may not agree with our priorities, but having a big wedding and celebrating our special day with our family and friends is just something that is really important to FI and me.”
“I may not make it to your wedding because I have a party to go to” (Did your best friend really say this??!!)
Response: “Well, I just want you to know that Fiance and I really cannot imagine not having you there to share our special day with us. You are such an important part of our lives, and we really want you to be there. However, I know that our having selected any specific date means that there are going to be some people who are just not able to attend. I’m just really sad that you don’t think you can be there. If anything changes before our RSVP deadline and you are able to be with us, please let me know.”
“You’re paying this much for flowers and that much for a photographer…I think you are overdoing it for one day”
Response (for those you’ve already told, who bring up the subject again): “I know it’s a lot of money — there definitely is a lot of ‘sticker shock’ involved in wedding planning! I am just so grateful that Fiance and I are in a position to be able to pay for our own wedding, and we’re concentrating our funds on things that really matter to us, such as having fresh flowers and a great photographer.”
I hope some of this helps!