But does it have to be this way?
"Absolutely not! There is no need to spend tons of money on a wedding when the most important thing is to make it personal," says Kathleen Kennedy, a chef, stylist and event planner with more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
Whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, Kennedy's book, "Priceless Weddings for under $5,000," offers budget-savvy strategies for making your special day memorable.
Before you begin planning your wedding and reception, sit down with your partner and make a list of your top five priorities.
"This will help to determine where to go all out, and where it's fair game to cut corners," says Kennedy. "For instance, if it is important to you that the wedding and reception be held at the restaurant where you had your first date or you know you must have a specific designer gown or a certain DJ that you really like -- then you can fit that into your budget and decide to save money in other areas."
2. Limit the guest list.
Keeping the guest list as concise as possible will drastically reduce reception costs. Most caterers, restaurants and banquet halls charge per-person, so the difference between 100 guests and 150 will be significant.
Rev. Roger Coleman of Clergy Services Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., who specializes in small family weddings, has a good rule of thumb for deciding how many guests to invite. "Don't invite more guests than you can spend one minute of time with. If you invite 300 guests, spending one minute with each would take over five hours." And that doesn't include the actual ceremony, eating or dancing!