What I did when I didn't know where to start is I found the most exhaustive list I could find on Google. There are always hidden fees, things you forgot to account for, taxes, tips, etc. Don't spend money on things you don't care about just because "you have to do x because it's a wedding". I keep thinking my checklists are complete until someone mentions something I either forgot or totally didn't know existed! You can't see my feet so I'm going to just wear some old shoes I already have. For everything, add 30% to the expected cost and treat that as the real cost- because it probably is. If you are crafty in any way, paper flowers are not super expensive and they are pretty and last forever. I'm not crazy about a bridal bouquet either so I found some cheap fake flowers that look true to nature. Personal referrals are great to have, and will be more honest than logging onto a website where of course this florist says they're the best.
My biggest tip is, don't feel pressure to include anything in your wedding that you don't truly, genuinely want. Food/drink/venue tend to make up the biggest chunk of a wedding budget. I wanted suits but FH wanted something a bit more casual- we are going with vests and ties. You can also get an invitation template on Etsy and then print yourself somewhere like Staples or a local print shop. Hubby and I are just starting out in the world and are still really getting our bearings.
You could have a simple ceremony with immediate friends and then take everyone out to dinner afterwards. Cutting back on decor items like flowers can really help - you don't need huge flower arrangements. We've been together for 6 years and have lived together on and off for collectively maybe a year. book the site, start booking vendors Oh and don't stress until you actually have something on paper! Plus you can add more on if you want to, and they offer full service at a reasonable cost as well. If you decide to go bigger there are still ways to plan on a budget. You can set a number, and if you are going over budget, you either cut people or you cut something else on the list.
Your best way to keep budget low is to keep the guest list small. Up until two weeks ago, I had in mind to elope and sidestep a ceremony completely.
Like, I don't care about flowers. One 300 page book was enough to make enough flowers for the whole wedding. We thought about having a *BBQ catered via Mission BBQ*, and it's $11. 99/person for 3 meats, 3 sides, bread choices, plates/cutlery/napkins. Many of us are shy and don't want to burden our friends with our wedding, but our friends really do want to help. This includes photographer, engagement photos, save the dates, favors, honeymoon, flowers of any sort, you get the idea. Buuuuut I had no idea how friggin' much went into planning a wedding.
I'm probably going to buy so much stuff from there before this process is over. For me, we want all our peeps there, so rather than cut the guest list we compromised with other things like decorations, DJ, etc.
I just eliminated things that will cost a lot that aren't fully necessary. This will help you narrow down a few of the things you can really do without. However, my mother and SIL convinced me otherwise and I'm totally happy about it. For example cutting costs in catering will save you thousands whereas cutting costs in tablecloths will save you maybe a hundred dollars.
Instead of buying a $400 ketubah with artwork, I bought a $200 one that's blank and I'll just add some watercolor swooshes myself. We are saving in things too like my dress was $300 on eBay and it's ten years old but it was like $1100. We're getting ready for our ceremony in October, but the planning has fallen to me.