Have the wedding and the reception at the same venue. This will not only save you the cost of having to rent two spaces, but it will save travel time, the effort of having to decorate two locations, and simplify travel and parking plans for your guests. Jake and I were married at the beautiful Opera House in Littleton, NH. (We stole away for some pictures at a couple different spots, but everything else happened at the Opera House.) My younger sister got married last May and chose to do it all at our church, which only has a minimal fee for use, so maybe check into your local church if you belong to one and find out what the fee would be.
DIY as much as you are able. The more you can do yourself the more you will save. As our wedding day approached I found myself sucked into the world of Pinterest where I found so many awesome ideas that I never would have considered. (Check out my wedding board!) I bought wholesale flowers so my bridesmaids and I could make our own arrangements, and I made the centerpieces with the flowers that were left over. With the help of a couple of good friends I was able to make pinwheels and ribbon sticks for the send off. My husband and his guys made a balloon valance to hang over the stage. Jake also designed our Save the Dates, invitations, program, and our Thumbprint Tree... You get the idea. So enlist your friends and family to help you with as much or as little as they are willing to do. There aren't many times in your life where you will have so many people willing and excited to help you, but your wedding day is one of them, so take advantage of it!
Be creative with your food. I knew with my budget I couldn't afford to cater a meal for 215 people, but I wanted more than just cake. So I enlisted the help from my family and some awesome women in our church to make several different kinds of salads, breads and desserts for our buffet. My Gram made some of her famous Christmas bread. Nana brought her Crisp Ginger and Dad's Cookies. The meal was simple, but there was a lot of variety, and to this day I still get people asking who catered our delicious wedding buffet.
The wedding day is very important to a girl, but it shouldn't come at the expense of others. I want the memories of my wedding to be happy ones for everybody, not just me.
Ask around before purchasing or renting. I really wanted a Chocolate Fountain for my dessert buffet, and lo and behold my boss had one that she said I was free to borrow. I also got all of my old canning jars for the centerpieces from friends. My mom—after having married off four daughters—had a whole collection of wedding decorations, and I'm sure she's not the only one. Everyone has friends and family members who can help supply you with what you need. So ask around. And if you do end up having to purchase something, make sure to hang onto it so someday you can pay it forward when a friend or relative gets married.
Marry into an amazing family! Without our families helping us so much with our big day I don't know how we ever would have pulled it off. My grandparents let us use their horse trailer to lug tables, chairs and other decorations to the Opera House; our families helped decorate and make yummy food; friends stayed after the ceremony to clean up. In the end, it was our friends and family who made the day happen. Without their help I probably would have gone slightly mad, or dug myself into a financial hole.
Getting married on a budget doesn't mean your wedding day has to suffer, you just have to be humble and willing to ask for help and daring enough to get a little creative!
Keep Pinchin' :-)