I'm getting married in just 3 weeks, so most of the planning and purchasing has already been done. I'm a frugal person, and so I'd like to share some of the ways I saved money. Mostly, it just involves taking the time to shop around for good deals.
1) Start early, and start with the venues. This is especially important if you think you might invite 100+ guests. I started last September, but many of the places that had reasonable prices were already booked for most of the summer weekends. The sooner you start, the more options are available, and thus the easier it will be to find a good deal.
2) Look for a photographer who is just starting out on their own. Make sure they have several years of experience shooting weddings, but are still new to the business aspect and thus have competitive pricing. They may not be easy to find, so expect a fair bit of research time. Try kijiji.ca, yellow pages, and maybe even a google search with "photographer" and your city name. A good photographer will have a website with a portfolio, or at least a photo blog. Look at their work and see if you like the style. Maybe get a friend or relative who knows about photography to evaluate the quality. Make sure they include a DVD with the full-resolution photos so you can get your own prints made - the photographer's packages of prints are rarely worth the price they charge. I keep all my photos on the computer anyway, and show them to people on my TV, so I'm only getting a few 8x10s for my parents and grandparents. I ended up going with a nice lady who charges $850 for a package that includes 2 photographers for the ceremony, formals, reception, and even includes an engagement session.
3) Make your own invitations. Search the internet for design ideas, but please don't replicate a copyright protected design. We saw a neat idea of using 1/4" ribbon, with one color forming a "V" coming down from the top and a second color of ribbon forming an inverted "V" from the bottom, loosely interlocked in the center. We used 3 layers of paper, sandwiching the ribbon ends between the middle and bottom layer. We bought nice high-quality paper and envelopes from a stationary store, and used the paper cutter at a Staples business center. We used our own laser printer, as the text was just plain black. Finally, rather than mailing out a whole bunch of stamped RSVP envelopes, we setup our own website and wrote a little php form that guests could use to RSVP for each family member (we're both computer programmers). You can easily get your own free wedding website: check out weddingwire.com or do a Google search.
4) Shop around for flowers. Costco has some very inexpensive rose bouquets and boutonniers. After we decided what kinds of flowers we wanted to order, I phoned about a dozen florists to get quotes. I was amazed at the range of prices! Several were between $650 - $750, but a nearby Grower's Direct quoted me $400. I later called another Grower's Direct location because the manager there supposedly specialized in weddings - this one was only $300! Her bouquets were only a little more than Costco's price, so we decided to go with her for the entire order.
5) Who needs an expensive DJ? My fiancee and I don't like to dance, so it's really just for the guests. I was even considering going without one but I don't want all my friends and family to think I'm cheap (well I am, but most of my relatives don't know it). We found a guy who will play some oldies music for $550, plus $99 for setting up his audio equipment at the ceremony.
The only place I really did not want cheap out on is the rings. I let her pick out any ring she wanted, and was lucky that it was only $3000. My ring also has some small diamonds in it and cost $800. Her dress was also expensive, but her parents paid for it. But, a good way to cut costs is to rent a dress. Selection may not be as good, but if she's not picky then she'll find one that fits.