How I pulled off a Phantom of the Opera themed wedding for about two grand!
First of all, my advice is to book a venue that you can both do your nuptials in AND have the reception.
It cuts costs like you would not believe. We did it at our local Shriner's temple, which was only 500 for the night. I asked about the fountain drink machine and they said that they'd be happy to let me use it.
Always, always, always ask. Ask about discounts, ask about sales, ask about anything that could save you money. If you don't ask, they aren't going to volunteer the information for you.
Instead of flowers, I used crystals and feathers. It was an over-the-top theme and I needed over-the-top decorations. We made feather bouquets with sprigs of sparkly gems and wrapped them with beautiful ribbon, all purchased at a Hobby Lobby on the cheap.
Sales, ladies. Sales. And if you have a crafty bone in your body, USE IT. You would be amazed at how truly beautiful things that you create with your own hands can be. For favors, we decided to purchase mesh sashet bags with ribbon ties and had a candy bar. Our colors were rich, gemstone colors. Emerald green, ruby, garnet, sapphire. So, we bought candies to reflect that. All in bulk. We bought plastic scoops and decorated them with fake jewels and hot glue. They looked
The tables were already provided (I asked!) and we sprinkled decorative gems that you put at the bottom of a fish tank on them. Not the gravel, mind you, but the fat, reflective, gemstone and iridescent ones. They glowed in the candle light like real jewels. The candles were votives, also bought in bulk, and floated in colored water (food coloring is cheap) in small glass bowls I found at WalMart for 20 cents apiece.
The tableclothes I found during the holidays.. deep red, black, and sumptuous blue. I bought them the day after Christmas and only spent about 25 dollars for 15 tables.
Recruit, ladies. Find your friends with hidden talents. Does someone know how to set up a soundsystem? Recruit them to help. Burn your own CDs for the reception. You know what you want to play and the order it goes in. So, hook up a sound system and dance the night away to personalized CD.
Find your wedding shoes at an outlet. And for your makeup, go to your local mall, purchase a lipstick and set up an apt. for them to 'show' you how to do formal makeup. If you purchase something, even something small like a lipstick, they'll usually do your makeup for free. Like at Este Lauder or Clinique.
Enjoy ladies and I hope this helped!