The nicest small wedding I’ve seen lately was one where they rented a gazebo on a nice summer’s day (about 200 dollars).
The couple kept it limited to just close friends and family, bought a dress/rented tuxes and flowers and all that, but then went out to eat afterwards. They got a really good photographer friend to take pictures, but I loved it because it was small, probably cost a hell of a lot less than a big wedding, but when you checked the facebook pictures it had everything you would want to see.
And a heck of a lot cheaper than a destination wedding which is pretty much a giant “fuck you” to all your relatives who might have trouble flying to whatever exotic locale you choose.
When you try to do the whole “big wedding” thing at a cheap price you’re inevitably going to spend a lot more money and spread yourself thin. Really sit down, talk with your partner, figure out what their dream wedding is, how much they want to please their family, if family would be willing to pitch in at all, etc.
What are some of the lessons learned?
Have your wedding in the morning or the afternoon.
People may not expect a full meal when the wedding is during the day. Cake and punch after a morning wedding is perfectly acceptable.
If you do a potluck, you’ll need to be sure you have some main dishes and assign certain people to bring certain things.
You can hire a photographer to do the ceremony and formal pictures then rely on friends and family to take pictures at the reception.
Get a small cake for the pictures of the cake cutting and bake sheet cakes to cut up and actually serve to your guests.
To really hold down expenses, don’t serve alcohol. Serve non-alcoholic beverages, instead. Or maybe just have some champagne for toasting.
If you are having a ceremony in a church that has multiple weddings in a day, ask the church for the names of the other weddings. Contact them to see about sharing the cost of the flowers in the sanctuary. We’re going to do that for my daughter’s wedding next spring.
Start going to resale shops to see if they have any dresses and see if you can find one you like. You can also look on ebay or craigslist. Start now but this can take a while. Have him wear a suit or rent a tux.