Off day (Mon-Fri), off season (usually November to March/April), “off” time (morning ceremony, lunch reception?)
Decide what is the most important to you – is it the food? The photographer? The dress? And then decide where you are willing to go (slightly) over budget in order to get those things (because, as much as you don’t want to, some parts of it will).
Cash bar, or look for a venue that lets you bring your own alcohol.
Look for a venue that includes things like glassware, linens, tables, chairs, cultery, plates, etc in its rental fee.
Really look at your quoted estimate. Are you paying for site fees? A bartender for 4 hours? Is it worth it? Oh, and ONLY LOOK AT VENUES YOU CAN AFFORD. If you fall in love with a place and its too much you are going to be sad and angry and disappointed. Best to avoid the situation all together! It’s the same with dresses. Just set a limit and stop looking at dresses (yes, even online!) once the price hits that limit.
Keep the guest list trimmed; nothing will send your costs skyrocketing quite like inviting 200 guests.
I found my photographer on kijiji and my baker & florist on Facebook. VERY reasonably priced.
That being said, you can save tons of money by DIYing: All paper products (thank yous, invites, Save-The-Date Cards, programs, menus), your bouquets, centerpieces (anything with candles seems to be the least expensive), hair & makeup; I’m sure there’s tons more ideas that I haven’t even thought of.
Search for dresses on sites like oncewed, preownedweddingdresses, perfectbridal or, of course, David’s bridal.
Have a Buck & Doe if you want to or you have a lot of friends you want to party with but can’t necessarily invite to the wedding (if its even done in your area?).
Ipod DJ, CD played over sound system for ceremony.
Consider moissanite or gemstones instead of a diamond band.
Delay taking your honeymoon, or vacation somewhere local.
Ask your family/friends to lend their services for the day. Got an aunt that loves to bake? Maybe she could do your cake. Etc.
I’m sure there are TONS more suggestions out there. I will say this, though: planning a wedding a strict, small budget takes a LOT of research and work. You have to keep going until you find someone that can fit your budget, and sometimes it takes awhile! But trust me, when you do find that vendor that can work with you, it’s such an awesome feeling. Good luck! 🙂