With the average cost of a wedding running upwards of $25,000 it is more important than ever to set limits and create a budget for your special day. There is no other event like a wedding where the options available are so overwhelming and expensive. It's gotten so out of control that even guests are going into debt by attending or participating in extravagant over-the-top wedding ceremonies. In order to keep costs down, working within a defined budget is required and keeping out the noise from friends and family, while difficult to do, is just as important.
Keeping up with the Joneses in general is a bad idea since it often leads to excessive debt, owning products or participating in services which don't really interest you and minimizes your own unique experiences. There is no benefit to copying someone else's wedding wholesale. Ideas are fine since there are some really creative weddings that have taken place but if you try to emulate an extravagant nuptial arrangement you're bound to pay the price both in originality and costs.
Weddings are unique in respect that sometimes the brunt of the cost is borne by the parents of the bride and groom. This isn't always the case and there are many weddings which are paid for by the couple. Unfortunately, there certain people who take advantage of the generosity of others and view someone else's checkbook as an open invitation to go crazy when planning for a wedding. Maybe this is the bride or maybe this is the groom or maybe even a close friend or relative or possibly a wedding planner. Regardless of whomever is the cause, it's best to put others before yourself when budgeting for a wedding.
Setting a budget for your wedding is no different than creating a household budget or budgeting for a yearly vacation. The only way to create a successful budget for your wedding is to set an upper limit and not exceed that amount. For example, if you budget $10,000 for your wedding and then start pricing venues, photographers and live bands you will probably find out quickly that you just spent $7,000 on three different wedding related items. What many couples do is simply increase their budget to accommodate that great band they just heard or that beautiful church they just visited. Keep in mind you're getting married to your life partner, a.k.a. your soulmate, and not an edifice made out of brick-and-mortar or three individuals who "ROCK HARD!"
Life is full of compromises and it is disingenuous and irresponsible to think your wedding day, regardless of how special it is or the fact that it only happens once (hopefully), shouldn't have a similar balance of give and take. Various cost-cutting measures include having an outdoor wedding in a national park or other scenic location. Avoiding irrelevant and unappreciated tchotchkes like sugared almonds, matchbooks, floral centerpieces, and other unnecessary items which add nothing to the day. Consider going with a DJ instead of live band. And for the love of God, do not invite everyone you've ever bumped into simply because they may be offended or you're trying to maximize your wedding gift prize pool.
The most important thing to remember when creating a budget for your wedding is that it is between you and someone you love and that's it. Everyone will have an opinion on how to make your day even more special with little concern for what it will cost. People who say "at my wedding we did this" or "this will make your day even more memorable" need to be reminded it's not their wedding and they should keep their pie holes shut. If your special wedding day only requires an outdoor ceremony with a couple of dozen friends and family and catering with barbecue to make it the best day ever then that's what you should do.