Flowers. Do you really need fresh flowers blanketing everything? Many couples opt for fresh flowers for the bridal party and silk arrangements as decoration for the ceremony and reception. Look into candles, ribbons, shells and decorative stones as alternatives.
Food. Save serious money by planning the reception for a time when guests will not need a full, seated meal. If your ceremony is between one and three in the afternoon, you can have a tea reception. Serve tea, finger sandwiches, scones and mini pastries. For a reception starting at four or five p.m., have a cocktail reception. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres are all you need. Make it clear on your invitation - "Tea (or cocktail) reception to follow."
Decorations and Favors. Take inventory of what you already have - and what friends and family have. Borrowing is cheaper than buying or renting, so ask around. Do-it-yourself favors are a great way to personalize your wedding for less. If you do need to buy supplies in large quantities, don't be afraid to talk to the store manager about a bulk discount.
You can have a fabulous wedding for less with some planning and elbow grease. But the best advice for saving money is to make a budget and stick to it. You'll be tempted to upgrade just a little here and there - but pretty soon your bargain wedding is no bargain at all.