After my husband and I got married, we sent our friends a card that said, “Save the date…” When they opened the card, the inside read: “…for somebody else.” That was the moment most of them learned we’d already gotten hitched. Most people said we’d regret skipping the big white dress and rubber chicken ritual. They were wrong. Eloping turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, and it boosted by balance sheet by more than $150,000.

When Jay and I got engaged in 2009, we didn’t plan on forgoing the festivities. But a few months into wedding planning, the costs were alarming. Even if we’d just had the basic stuff, it would have set us back $30,000, according to a survey of 16,000 brides and grooms who use TheKnot.com.

While we knew we’d have great memories of the event, for us that was too much money for a few hours of fun. So in early 2010, we decided to postpone the wedding, and use our savings and some of the money our parents had earmarked for the nuptials to buy an apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The timing, though admittedly an accident,was perfect: We bought our place for less than what the previous owners paid for it in 2007; since then, it’s increased in value about 40%.

As we settled into our apartment and weighed our future together, we knew still wanted to get married, but couldn’t stomach the thought of spending years saving for a wedding. So we said our ‘I do’s’ in 2011, at a tiny wedding chapel in Reno, Nevada. We hit up local thrift stores before the big day to get our outfits, and then for a couple hundred bucks, including the clothes, we made it official. I found an ‘80s wedding dress for about $20; my husband found a funky ‘70s jacket and pants for around the same price.

The decision to buy a house rather than spend that money on a party was the best financial decision I’ve ever made. As for our our wedding day, well, it was one of the best days of my life. It was simple and drama free – the perfect start to our life together. I didn’t worry if the guests were having fun, my bridesmaids were getting along or the caterer showed up on time. It was just about the two of us – my husband and me – and our commitment to each other. And that was priceless.