1. Don’t feel you have to have a wedding to match others. Dont borrow for a wedding. Dont spend what you dont have, but dont think you have to spend all you have.
2. Build in a reserve for unforseen expenses. I would say 10%
3. Dont forget less obvious expenses — tips, service charges. Are you going to have favors? I would vote against. Gifts to Brides Maids? IMHO, if you demand they do their hair a certain way, you should pay. The only thing your attendants should have to pay for is their dress, AND you should ask for their budget.
4. Saturday night is most expensive –
5. Narrow down vendors. Check out one cheaper than you want, and see if the differences matter.
6. Your reception can be as fancy or not as you want. If not a meal, it should not be at meal time. It can be a desert reception or a brunch, depending on time of day. Everyone invited to ceremony must be invited to reception.
7. IMO, cash bars are not acceptable, but wine and beer only is fine. Even dry is fine.
8. Centerpieces are nice, but not necessary. You can do candles or something else.
9. Tell your Inlaws and your parents, you have this many invites. No extras. And that includes all people, so if aunts and uncles are married, they count as 2 people. Agree on guest list with FDH and NO EXTRAS.
10. You have to invite spouse, fiancee and long term/live in partner of any guest. Keep in mind that some people may pop up after you do guest list. Build in a few extras if needed. I do not think +1s are generally necessary, especially if singles have other friends or relatives there. But if you have only one friend or one cousin that is a single, you might want to think about this. I would think — can I have a table where singles are comfortable.