I'm getting married in the SE (Essex). We booked a town hall for our reception (we're getting married in a church). We've got about 100 guests, so we decided to splash out on catering to save the hassle, but we're having the ceremony mid afternoon so we only have to pay for one meal.
Another option is to look into pubs as venues. Many lovely country pubs have function rooms and often only charge a small amount, or they charge for buffet food which they will provide (sandwiches and pork pies type of thing!). This also means you have a bar already set up for guests to buy their drinks! They are often big enough to have a dance floor and a few tables.
I agree with many of the points already made:
1) Ask people to help - most will be chuffed you want them to be involved. Even if you offer to pay them for ingredients, equipment, etc., you might be able to get things like the cake, flowers, music, etc. and it has the added bonus of being extra personal. I would recommend though that you hire a professional photographer. These are going to be the items you hang around the house after the wedding, so you want them to be as lovely as possible! A lot of photographers do packages, with the cheapest coming in about £500, and they often do last minute deals if you want to risk waiting till closer to the day. If you're wedding is out of season or a week day, you may get a better deal.
2) DIY decorations and flowers. These are very fun to make but do be careful with being craft stuff - the cost builds up! But very fun - craft parties with friends round to help all adds to the exciting build-up. Bunting is a cheap and easy to make decoration if you're having a summer wedding, or paper chains for Christmas.
3) Christmas sales - in January, go nuts on fairy lights. They are such simple but effective decorations, whatever season you decide to get married in!
4) Charity shops, budget shops, etc., - eyes open at all times for something that might be helpful. I recently got a picture frame for pennies I'm going to use as my seating plan, and I have a friend who found bridesmaid's dresses in a charity shop. Places like the Range and TKMax also do reasonably priced stuff you could use to decorate. I think the Range also does a wedding range with guest books, etc.
5) Borrow! Especially from friends who have recently got married - they'll have stuff they want to get rid of. Lots of people have fairy lights they could loan. You could borrow things like cake stands, bunting, jewellery, etc.
6) Don't go too nuts on the stationary. A simple design done on your computer (and printed out at work if you can get away with it!) is a cheap option. We added glitter to ours and they looked professional enough.
7) People have different opinions on how much the bride should pay towards the bridesmaids' outfits, but you could ask them to split the cost and then give them some choice as to what they wear. Or even give them the full reigns then they can decide if they want to buy a new dress or stick with something they already have. Either way, telling them to wear their own favourite shoes and jewellery saves a few pounds and keeps their feet comfortable!
Sorry, I appear to have waffled! And probably repeated what other people have already said! Certainly there are plenty of people who do budget and DIY weddings so keep posting here.
Wishing you all the best. X