Just an update... I was this girl, who was asking your advice on how to plan a wedding for two families from opposite sides of the pond who aren't loaded.
In the end, for many many reasons, we decided to have a ceremony in both lands. The first was a civil ceremony in my Grandma's backyard in Michigan. While the location was originally chosen as she was housebound (and I wanted her to attend my wedding more than anyone in the world beside myself and my fiance), she passed away 2 months before the wedding. The ceremony went ahead, the last family event to take place in her home, after nearly 60 years and 5 generations celebrating all major events there. As you can probably guess, it was a very emotional day, but it was everything I've ever wanted in a wedding. We ate BEFORE the ceremony (a barbeque catered by my former boss), I wearing a burgundy dress that my grandmother wore as her "going away dress" the day after her wedding in 1941.
My family did everything for the wedding for us: decorating the backyard, hiring a tent and chairs, and covering everything with flowers, on a budget of literally 600 dollars. Right before the ceremony, I changed into a light blue 1950's dress. My cousin played Beatles songs on his guitar as my hub walked in with his parents and me with mine. We then danced the night away to an iPod in the pouring rain on the back deck.
On the Irish side, we rented out a boutique hotel in the country, a shabby chic Georgian stately home. We had a small marquee on the front lawn, and my Uncle Mike, a minister, performed the blessing under a giant willow tree on the property. The music was a small bluegrass band, whom I'd found busking on the streets of Dublin. I wore a dress by Maria Lluisa Rabell, this Spanish designer who only uses unbleached natural fabrics (bought it at a trunk sale and had it altered). Our guests danced the night away to an 80's cover band, and then our friend DJ'ed into the wee hours.
This is all to say, thanks to you and those who commented, it was nice to have some moral support. And while my Irish wedding was more "weddingy" than my Michigan one, I really preferred the civil ceremony, and in my heart it was my "real" wedding.
p.s. The first set of photos (the backyard bbq) are by a family friend called Hugh Plummer. Second set (the Irish country celebration): my amazing friend and professional photographer Karina Finegan.