Pick three things you really don’t want to cut back on, and then save on everything else. This is what we did, and it worked really well. Then, looking back, you can say that you had three things you absolutely loved that were really important to you.
For us, No. 1 was photography. We had a $25K budget, and spent $5K of it on photography.
No. 2 was our venue. It was our dream venue, and it ended up costing a lot less than we thought. Score!
No. 3 was food/alcohol for our guests. We ended up getting the cheapest sit-down sinner package (how venue was kind of fancy though, so the lowest-prices option was still amazing with beef and fish options), and we upgraded the alcohol package to offer premium liquors, wines and beers all night long. Basically, a five-hour open bar. We thought it was worth it because it was our way of treating our guests.
Things we cut back on:
Flowers: Our budget was $300, and we got three Bridesmaid or Best Man bouquets, one bridal bouquet, three mom bouquets and four bouts for just that. They were small, and the flowers were in season, so it was easy for us to stay on track.
DJ: We had an iPod wedding. No hiccups at all.
Cake: We ordered a small two-tiered cake with minimal decorations, and it only served about 75 percent of our guests. We ordered cheesecakes for half our guests, and asked the venue staff to mix and match at each placesetting. We still had leftover wedding cake because by the time it’s served, people are up and dancing.
Dress: This is the only thing I have regrets about (sometimes). I got a short dress for $260, plus alterations. I sometimes look back and wish I had spent more time looking for a gown-gown (I got frustrated while looking and just said, “to hell with a gown! I’ll get a short dress!”). I loved my dress, and felt beautiful on our wedding day, but I wonder what it would have felt like to wear a gown-gown that I actually loved just as much. Moral of the story: you only wear it once, but if you want to splurge a little, go for it.