Here are the 3 things that you should never skip out on - and are the most expensive to begin with. I find all 3 equally as important, and can all be as equally priced.
1. Food. This the one thing your guests will remember. If you care about how your RSVP lists respond to your wedding, then don't skip out on the food. You don't have to have an amazing selection, the food itself just needs to be rememberable - and in a good way. Food is the only thing that directly affects them and so this is the thing that will stick with them. Same goes with alcohol. If you want it at your wedding, have an open bar. If you only have a small budget for alcohol, then just make drinking hours shorter. It looks better offering free drinks even if it's just for 2 hours. It depends on your reception schedule, but I'd - see this blog for my recommended reception schedule. But if you are doing dinner, then cake - open the bar right after the cake cutting, and cut it off right before the garter and bouquet toss.
2. Photography. After all that planning, getting ready, walking down the aisle, cutting the cake, and bidding your goodbyes - when it's all done, your pictures are the only thing you'll really have left to remember your wedding day by. Having a sensational photographer will give you gorgeous framable pictures. And the perfect coffee table center piece - your wedding photo book - to show off for the rest of your days. Having a wonderful photographer will be a good investment that you will not regret.
If you have a beautiful venue to begin with then you don't need to spend so much decorating it. Find a venue that fulfills the look and feel you want on your wedding day. Don't just pick the least expensive one or close to it and just say I'll decorate it to make it what I want. The end result will never be everything you'll hope for, and you'll spend a lot of money and time trying to get there. Pay attention to things like the floor and wall covering - make sure their colors don't clash with yours. Look for venues that offer things that you'll need, like chairs, tables, and tents for outdoor spaces. Renting these things can get very pricey.
Stay tuned for more of The Wedding Budget. I will break down on how to save on all the other things that make up your wedding!