In Bayhaqi, the Prophet (SWAS) is reported to have characterized the most blessed of marriages. He (SWAS) said: "The most blessed marriage (nikah) is the least expensive one"
These days marriages are a string multiple day ceremonies in which huge sums are routinely spent. Not doing so, most likely results in the family becoming a social outcast. The people involved spend months in elaborate preparations in terms of designer dresses, jewelry, hotel arrangements, lighting, music, hosting out of town guests, invitation cards, honeymoon trips, videos, photo sessions, wedding cake, catering food & sweets, entertainment, car rentals, dowry, etc, etc, etc. Everything just has to be fairy tale perfect. Most young people's wedding dreams are made by the popular media and the lives of the stars of Hollywood and Bollywood whose affairs they so religiously follow. They argue that wedding happens once in a lifetime and so no expense is too great in celebrating it.
The blessed lives of the Sahaba and Sahabiyaat were not like this. Marriages took place as normal everyday mundane events. They got married during their travels, while in wars, while giving dawah, after the death of a spouse, etc. Their marriages were not discontinuities in their everyday lives as they are today. Neither were marriages once in a lifetime affairs. Men and women married multiple times in their lives as living alone was frowned upon even for elder people. Most of the Prophet's (SWAS) wives other than Ayesha (RA) were not that young and had married before.
Marriage is a contract in which two individuals publicly agree to have marital relations. By doing so they participate in becoming the foundations of a society, a nation and a civilization. This is the only legal way for them to enjoy each other's company. By keeping marriages simple, young people can easily get married and not fall into haraam which is so easy these days. It allows all strata of society to get married, not just the rich. People who are not so well off do not have to borrow on interest and live a lifetime of economic slavery. A point to note about the Prophet's (SWAS) advise was that it applies to the poor as well as the rich. By refraining from excessive spending, the rich can set a standard which all segments of the population can easily follow.
In Islam, marriage is celebrated after the nikkah in a party called a Walimah -- which in Arabic literally means an invitation to eat. This is obligatory and the guests MUST include poor relatives, friends and acquaintences. The groom arranges the Walimah in his capacity after consumation of the marriage. There is no fixed date for the Walimah. It can be the next day, the next month, the next year, etc.
In 2004, when I first met my wife's family and saw her in their presence in Karachi. We took 2 days to decide to get married. The nikkah was arranged in the next couple of days in an empty nearby plot in a simple ceremony.There was a lecture about marriage in Islam. We signed the marriage contract. I paid Rs. 51,000 /AED 2000/$600 mehr to my wife. I had around 10 guests. The rest were my wife's family's guests. There was a simple dinner. When my wife's residence visa for UAE was arranged, she travelled with her sister's family to Abu Dhabi. After about a month or two we had a Walimah in 4 star hotel halls (separate for men and women) next to my flat. Among the guests were my family, friends, my family's friends, relatives, work colleagues but also present were our servant, watchman and office boys. It was a simple dinner. Two days later we went on our honeymoon to Makkah to perform Umrah. We prayed for a blessed foundation to our married lives. My parents did not pay anything for the marriage, neither did I take a loan. Alhamdulillah, that was our marriage and I have no doubt that, as the Prophet (SWAS) said, it has been blessed, because it was done with pure intentions on both sides without any fanfare.