The guest list is the biggest budget-buster. Catering is the largest portion of the entire budget, so the smaller the guest list, the easier it is to save. We created a set budget and then looked for vendors that fit within our budget. In terms of saving, you want to look at how much you want to spend and how much you can save each pay check/per month to get you to your goal.
Agree with limiting the guest list as #1; to meet budget, daughter knew from the beginning they had to keep it to 100 attendees. Beyond that, daughter's biggest savings came from choosing an "off-season" date with her venue (in So Cal, that was January -- so weather wasn't really much of a gamble) -- that saved $5000 on a Saturday night wedding compared with "in-season" rates and had a lower minimum. Her next best strategy was comparison shopping the heck out of everything. She found a florist (through Knot or WW) who was $1000 less than the next lowest bid, and provided more and nicer quality florals, and a cupcake shop that would make her cake to her exact specifications for less than $4 a slice (including tax & delivery) when all the other bids in our area were $6-10+ a slice, etc. Another biggie was that her photographer offered a significant discount for payment in full at the time of booking and another for not using a credit card; she vetted him thoroughly, so she was comfortable with his terms (saving $1300). Also, she found most DIY attempts to actually NOT be money savers compared with finding professionals who could do what she wanted and stay within her budget. With the strategies listed above, she saved a minimum of $8000 (on a $30,000 wedding, so about 27%). Good luck!
To help save some money you want to take a look at the guest list. The more people you invite the more you need to spend with catering and the cake. Also considering the off season and a wedding on a friday or sunday will save some money with the venue. Shop around for your vendors and compare prices. If flowers aren’t important then you can omit them or limit them and go with centerpieces such as candles. If the wedding cake isn’t important get a sheet cake from the grocery store instead of a tiered cake from the bakery.
Make sure to just budget everything! I’ve definitely saved a good chunk if money by getting married on a Sunday in March. I’ve found great vendors at a low cost (try just googling rather than wedding sites). You can also DIY your centerpieces and order bulk flowers online or through a grocery store like stop and shop or bjs!
Since I work in the school system I had to roll with what I got and it turned out good. Have it at a your, friend's, or family house or yard (even if you have to pull out the rake and buy some sod and flowers) so you can byo things (food(I did family style), drinks(sister and cousin premixed things) , flowers(rented everything but my own bouquet), ect) without rules and fees. If you have a bigger backyard I would do it at your own place as you get long term payoff for renovating it. And dont have to pay for the extra time it takes to cleanup or setup. Have a signature non alcoholic beverage to get people to not ring the bill higher. Buy on resale when you can. Never pay full price except for services not done yourself, as there is always coupons, seasonal discounts, or resale. Have it planned out on excel with prices and best times to buy, this is alot of work but dont fly blind or you will have a hard time keeping track of spending.
As far as your guest list, decide who you can't imagine spending the day without. Don't let other people sway you.
Look into favorite local restaurants for catering. They don't charge extra because it's a wedding, and you would already know that the food is good. Use Peerspace.com to find venues Make a list of the top 3-5 most important things. Skip whatever doesn't make the list while keeping guests' comfort at the forefront. Rent as much as you can. It will save you the headache of trying to relocate/sell everything afterward. Grocery store cakes taste just as good if not better than many fancy bakeries. Keep in mind that DIY is not always cheaper because you have to account for time and sanity. Take advantage of Etsy.com if you aren't crafty yourself. Provide a variety of nonalcoholic beverages. Provide your guests with what you know they will drink. If they aren't beer/wine types, don't serve only beer/wine to 'save money'.
Go to a sample sale for your dress. I got a Kleinfeld dress for 90% off. Even after alterations, I still spent less than 50% of the retail price on it.
Be squishy on your dates. Some dates are super high demand, and will cost more. We took less than 8 months to plan, so we got the same-year prices, instead of the inflated prices for the next year.
Cut anything and everything you don't care about. We did fake flowers, ditched the photobooth, didn't do signature cocktails, etc.
Find a DJ with their own business. Our DJ had done a friend's wedding, and she's excellent, but she's not as well known - and is a woman, so a lot of people overlook her. Thus, her prices were really affordable. (Also, again, we booked her on a date she'd have otherwise been not working.)
Find a film student to do the videography. They'll charge less, but still give you good quality video.
Ask your friends for rec's. You might get discounts that way, or find a hidden gem.
Definitely what has helped me save is doing itemized savings envelopes for every since wedding related item. When I have the money for each envelope I seal it and tuck it away. It also gives me small rewards as I can see my progress over time as the envelopes remaining get smaller and smaller. When it is time to buy my bridal shower me dress I just grab the envelope and go shopping and so on and so on. 🥰 Hope this helps 👰🏽