Maybe it was one too many in-your-face episodes of "Bridezillas," or maybe it was Kim Kardashian (she's such a great scapegoat, isn't she?).


Whatever the precipiating factor(s), after a decade of damn-the-budget, over-the-top, weddings-as-competition, the trend for weddings in the coming year seems to be the opposite: Budget-appropriate, classy and (maybe because Americans are marrying later and later every year) even a bit more mature.


According to The Wedding Report, most couples are keeping wedding parties under 150, autumnal celebrations are on the rise, and tuxedo rentals are down 11 percent over 2010 numbers. Perhaps we are just harkening back to an earlier era where the exception was huge society weddings, not something every commoner (in the parlance of our times, that's the 99 percent) tried to emulate. Whatever the reason, weddings seem to have chilled out — which is great news for anyone planning their nuptials in the coming year. 


So what does a smaller, simpler wedding look like? 


Authentic venues: The rise of rustic, organic farm-centered, barn and garden weddings means that unusual and earthy venues are now not only acceptable, but even preferred by the modern couple. So are celebrations that give back in some way, such as those at a space like the Housing Works Cafe in NYC (which is run as a nonprofit benefitting AIDS victims). 


DIY: Plenty of brides and grooms are interested in contributing to their own wedding, whether that be by performing for the crowd, crafting thank you gifts, or designing your own wedding invitations. Some even like to make their own cakes or design their own dresses, or do their own flower arranging, depending on interest and budget. 


Using technology creatively: Design-sharing websites like are a real boon to couples planning the look and feel of their wedding. In the past, mood boards were only for design professionals, but now anyone can create an inspirational concept of their wedding online — or several to choose from (or debate over). This then allows the couple to do more of the initial planning for themselves, even if they end up hiring a wedding planner. 


Going au natural: No, I'm not talking about nudist weddings, but instead about ceremonies or receptions held outdoors or under a simple tent. Natural environments as well as decor elements that go beyond local flowers are popping up in bridal magazines, including using driftwood and candles in sand instead of a candleholder, or decorating with river stones or autumn leaves instead of flowers. 


Doughnuts for dessert: Instead of the traditional, giant frosted cake, many just-marrieds are featuring dessert buffets, cookie or doughnut towers, pinatas, or ice cream trucks for the post-feast sweet cravings. 

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

2012 weddings will be greener, less expensive and more intimate
Gigantic, crazy weddings are out; simple and fun celebrations are in.