According to CostofWedding.com, the average wedding in the U.S. today costs over $26,000. The range, however, is very broad, from $25 for a wedding license and a visit to the courthouse, up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for some exclusive, swanky affairs (which, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, had better have some good food!). C.o.W. lets you search for the average price in your zipcode, which, for Pittsburgh at least, shows that weddings in the university section of town are significantly cheaper ($15,544 in zipcode 15213, as compared to $32,964 in 15217, right next door).
So how do you plan your wedding on a graduate school budget? Many couples choose to do a lot of D.I.Y. projects, hold weddings at unconventional locations, bargain shop, and cut out unnecessary details. And really, just about everything is an unnecessary detail; if, at the end of the day, you are married to your beloved, the wedding was a complete success. Everything else is icing on the wedding cake.
So for the brides, here is a great bargain dress resource: Alycin makes the dresses which are photographed for some of the McCalls bridal patterns; if the pattern is discontinued she often gets the dress back, and then sells it at or below the cost of materials. Selection is limited, and all the dresses are the same size, so if you aren't between a 6 and a 10, they won't fit, although smaller sizes could likely have some of the dresses altered down. But these gowns are hand-made with high quality materials, and they are all under $300, a definite steal. New dresses are added as they come in. The gorgeous ballgown style dress below is $295 + s/h; if I were engaged I would snap it right up.
There are also some wonderful bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, so you can (in theory) outfit the female part of your wedding party in one fell swoop!