Small guest list, an afternoon wedding where you don't have to pay for as much food, off season wedding as usually peak season (may-oct) is way more expensive. Also, use your resources! Have a friend with a gorgeous home who is willing to host? Do a beach wedding where it can be cheaper. There are lots of ways out there!
Ik exactly where u are coming from I was a single mom out on disability so our whole budget is around $3000... My #1 advice for a bride on a budget is the earlier u plan & book the cheaper it is.. that being said.. We opted for Vegas because the wedding packages there really offer alot for the money. We invited 135 & to date we have 35 attending with only 1 week left to RSVP.. Flowers seems to be a very big expense so I opted to make DIY decorations using feathers which works with my theme of vintage Vegas @ The Flamingo.. I designed.. printed our invites & are making the guest hand fans.. made a wedding website & had everyone RSVP on it instead of RSVP cards & extra postage.. We added to our package & are having a quaint garden party with Champagne & cupcakes & homemade favors. We we will have a celebration @ home with food & dancing @a later date for those who could & couldn't make it..& it can be more casual.. Good luck
I have a small budget too, 3k and about 100 guests. I would check into local community centers for your venue, the one i'm trying to get is 275 bucks! I can also rent the kitchen for an additional 125 with a licensed caterer. I found one that costs 10 per person. You can bring your own booze which can keep the cost low. Instead of a church you can have the wedding at the same venue, a 2 for 1. You can save on your officiant by having a friend or family member get ordained online to perform the ceremony. David's bridal has many dresses under 200 too
We are having friends do a lot of things: DJ, cake, photography. I live in UT where kids get married early 20s and have a small budget as well, they will get married at their Mormon temple or church and just have a backyard dessert reception.
I went to a camping wedding last year that was a ton of fun, and I think that saved a lot of money. The bride and groom rented out a group campsite for guests to stay in for a couple of nights, just had to bring our tents etc, had their wedding nearby where the bride's brother officiated, and the reception was homemade bbq, potato salad, rolls etc. There was a cake but the s'mores bar by the fire was a big hit. The older guests/grandparents stayed in a lodge or went home since almost everyone is local, but the camping option was great for most of us who like being outdoors.
For the dress, I shopped online at Lulu's and BHLDN... and I kept a dress from each one because I loved them both so much. My Lulu's dress was $80 and BHLDN was $260. I also looked online in the classifieds (Craigslist?) if you don't mind a second-hand one, there are some great deals that I saw, just have to be careful with fit and how hard they might be to get altered.