We had a $10,000 budget for our wedding, and I'm pretty sure that we stuck to that, within a few hundred dollars. I am certain that we were no more than $200 over due to the set amount of money in our wedding account. While I started out wedding planning with $30,000 set aside, during our engagement we decided that our priorities did not include having a typical, blow out wedding. We paid for my midwifery program with some of the money. A few months before the wedding we bought a house. And next month we will use some of our money to take a much needed three week vacation in Argentina.
That being said, we tried not to feel like we were being limited by our budget when planning. We made our big choices count: having our wedding in my parents backyard instead of the barn we'd originally planned on renting, picking a photographer who could work with us on pricing, and doing some of the catering ourselves. I also bought my dress used, I made things that I'd originally planned on buying (like my hair piece modeled after the lovely k.autumn), and we asked friends and family to help with things like flowers and music.
Being smart about the big things allowed us the freedom to splurge in some areas. For example, we bought all the dishes we used at the wedding from thrift shops. While I had a rule that each dish had to cost less than it would cost to rent it, I occasionally bought things that were more expensive--particularly since I knew those pieces would end up being used in our house. My husband also had his suit made after months of trying to find one in thrift shops, but we still came in on budget and we know he'll use it for years to come.