As far as our wedding went, cost was definitely a consideration for me. Hell, I would have chosen to elope, but my now-wife wouldn’t hear of that (though, after it was all over, she thought that eloping may have been better than all the madness of putting on a wedding). So we decided to have a relatively big wedding (around 150 guests) but do it as inexpensively as possible while still being nice. It was a tall order, but we did OK. We ended up spending around $15,000 (we had planned to spend $10,000), and that cost doesn’t include the cost of the engagement ring. One thing to consider is that we did this in Washington, D.C., and it wasn’t as cheap to do it here as it would have been elsewhere. The lack of catering halls within the city certainly doesn’t help make weddings affordable.
To save costs we had our reception in our church. The church didn’t cost us any money, which was a plus, but we had to hire a caterer, which wasn’t exactly cheap. The food was around $40 per person. That was more than I had wanted, but it was the best deal we could find and the food was great. People are still mentioning that to us. Having it in the church also cut our costs because we couldn’t have any alcohol. While we would have preferred to have drinks, it worked out well and probably saved us around $1000. The savings were a bit offset, however, since we had to decorate the place to make it look nice. This was accomplished by hiring a decorator and renting chair covers and table cloths. Overall, though, much less than having a reception elsewhere (hotels around here charge, at the minimum, $20,000) to host a reception).
Our photographer was very inexpensive and very good. We lucked out getting him. In fact, he even gave us our negatives for free. That’s very rare. Another source of money saved.
Instead of buying a wedding cake at $5 to $10 a slice we bought it at the local Giant supermarket. The cake itself was only around $175 and the flowers for it were another $150. It looked great and tasted good, too. Big savings there.
Wedding dress was bought at a warehouse store. It looked great and cost less than $500 (alterations, another $400). Compared to what some spend on dresses, a big bargain, too.
There were other expenses (tux rental, DJ, officiant fee, etc.), but they were all fairly common and we didn’t end up getting bargains there.
As I said above, money was a large consideration for me because we were paying for it ourselves (mostly). Her parents kicked in a few thousand and I got a little money from my grandparents for the rehearsal dinner (originally planned to just get food from Baja Fresh and eat it outside at the church – saving lots of money – but it rained that day so we had to go to a restaurant). Since the money coming out of our pockets for the wedding was being taken away from other important items – saving for a home or a honeymoon (which we ended up not taking) – we made every effort not to waste money.