I need to know what is the best way to stay in my budget. What are reasonable things to look for?
I can't stress enough how important it is to first create a budget!!! If you know your target number ($$) then break that number down into categories of what you will need for your wedding day. Then look for professionals that can work within that budget.
Sounds easy? It isn't. Another piece of advice is to face reality. You can't get a David Tutera wedding with 300 guests on $5,000 budget. Think about it a Meal at McDonald's is $5.49 plus tax right - includes a tea (not alcohol) if you buy 300 of these meals the cost is $1,647 before tax. That is just a burger.
Think of other options. If your budget is $5,000 do a destination wedding. We've sent couples to Sandals Ochi for $3,000 for a week, honeymoon and wedding all inclusive! If you think your family won't travel - I'll bet back some of them will!
Do a cake an punch reception, instead of a sit down dinner or have your ceremony early and do a bunch instead. You have lots of options.
Doing a ton of DIY projects to stay in budget doesn't always work and it doesn't always turn out the way that you wanted it to. Visit some of these wedding websites, speak to a planner, ask other couples and get ideas. Then follow your heart!