I had a decent size wedding. Hubby and I invited our friends and family but it was in my hometown so of course not everyone can come. The chapel we had the wedding in was small but very very cute with stained glass and an outdoor gazebo. Plus a white event tent we rented.
We did the whole typical wedding I suppose, wedding dress, dinner, cocktails, photographer, dj, cake, limo, flowers, etc.
Some ways IMO to save money are- Don't tell the baker it's a wedding cake, in fact don't tell anyone it's a wedding before getting the price cause wedding keyword makes everything go up in price. If you don't mind it, get cupcakes instead of a wedding cake - We bought two small layers of "cake" one for us to cut for photos and the other because people insisted you are supposed to freeze the top and have it on your first anniversary (note: we ate it the next week) - the rest we had cupcakes, it was pretty cheap for a wedding cake / cupcakes that feeds 200+ it was $150 from a local baker.
Photographers have to be one of the most ridiculously expensive parts of a wedding. Ours was "cheap" costing "only" $1k with full rights and copies to our photos- be careful about this because some photographers require you and your family buy photos from them and that you can't use them in your own works later, etc etc. We wanted full rights to our photos right away (some make you wait a year if ever) so we paid extra for it. It was great cause we were able to make a "blurb" book with our photos and send it to our parents/grandparents/siblings.
Make sure when buying flowers that you -do- tell them it's for a wedding and ask to speak with their wedding consultant. They -should- tell you how to save money by substituting some of your flowers for flowers that look like it but are cheaper/last longer. I wanted green orchids for my wedding and white roses and tons of fresh rose petals. It was amazing, we had toooooooons of flowers - it cost around ~$1500 for all the flowers (table pieces, petals, head pieces for flower girls, bouquets, boutonnieres, center piece, altar, memorial, tables, etc etc ) Well worth it imo and many of the flowers lasted for weeks (orchids last well cut).
Also another way to save money is to buy discount dresses in the factory size. If you can find a dress that fits you at the store that means you won't need to get it altered. Often times stores only have displays in the default size so girls can see how they would look then they order it from the factory and customize it to fit your size, but if you don't need the customization or a smaller/larger size then you can get it straight from the factory with no alterations and save a buttload. I really wanted a maggie sottero dress but they are normally 1.5k+ however I found one in a nice little shop for $500
You can also resell them afterwards if you don't believe in hoarding
mm, I dunno, some people consider fancy weddings a waste of money but as long as you do it within your budget and enjoy yourself fully then I say why not? We only live once and hopefully only get married once, so why not go all out? I had a blast designing my wedding day, i even made my own table centerpieces and invites. and it's a great memory to look back on. :3 Our wedding day was perfect, it's a great way to start a new life together~ :3