It’s all about priorities. For us, our No. 1 priority was our guests having a good, fun time. When we viewed every decision through that filter, it made it easier to decide where to spend our money. So these things were important to us: open bar, good food, good DJ (though we saved $ by not having a band), cool venue
Not important: specialty table linens/chairs/chair sashes, invitation and paper products, centerpieces, lighting, flowers, videographer, expensive dress
Even for the things that weren’t as important, we did still have many of them, but we did save money in these ways:
Photographer: We got the best photographer we could afford for 10 hours but that only included the digital files. We didn’t order a fancy flush-mount album (thinking we can just do Blurb or order a $1k album later on, if we want to).
Videographer: We wanted a record of the day so our future grandkids can see, but it wasn’t important to us to have a really well-done one, so we just got a professional to film the whole night and give us an unedited tape. He wasn’t great, but that wasn’t a priority.
Dress: I didn’t shop at expensive places so I fell in love with a $750 dress and got tons of compliments on it.
Paper products: Invitations were from WeddingPaperDivas.com, I made the programs by myself ($125 for copies at Kinko’s, $50 for ribbon, countless hours of labor for me and my friends). No menus.
Flowers: I had a budget and stuck to it. We did gorgeous bouquets but I wasn’t picky about the type of flower so they just got whatever was in season in my color. Centerpieces were simple and had lots of candles (not in a cheesy way!).
We had lots of little guest-comfort touches like bathroom baskets, flip-flops for the ladies, and we made sure to go around and greet every table (as you should but apparently not everyone does that). I think those things make a big difference. Don’t get too hung up on the details. It’s all about having a fun, relaxed time where the focus is on your and your beloved and your families and friends. Good luck!