We came out over budget, and it was really because of one thing. We didn't budget enough for gratuity. In retrospect, I think we were overcharged for it, but didn't feel like making a stink about it. (How can you argue over gratuity - after you've given it?)
We're about five weeks from the wedding and going to come out about 8% over what we originally budgeted when we started the process 10 months ago. Time will tell, but I feel we have a good hold on the costs.
In coming up with the budget, we initially used the crappy stuff on shit sites like the knot, but I found I could build a more useful budgeting tool (I've done a fair amount of financial modeling in my lifetime, which helped). We had to be pretty disciplined b/c although our parents are sharing the majority of the costs, we're handling the difference and both of us are graduate students--the cizash flow is tight.
btw, we're in atlanta.
We split our proposed budget three ways between ourselves and each of our parents. My folks (geographically distant) just wrote us a check; her folks made a lot of the arrangements first-hand and we really don't know if they blew the top off the budget or came in well under projection. They're not talking, we're not asking.
From NY metro area:
Overages were generally due to parents being shocked at the idea of not doing things "properly": DJ instead of a band? Horrors! What do you mean we don't need customized yarmulkes? (etc.) Whoever insisted on a more expensive option ate the excess cost.
The average price is now the equivalent of a down payment on a $260,000 home.
We budgeted $8,000 for our classy, but tiny, old fashioned wedding with sit down dinner. We actually came in at $5,000. Basically because we went through the huge list of "needs" from various sources (like the knot) and slashed through them. You'd be surprised the number of things you decide you really don't need. We skipped so many things: videographer, DJ, limos, favors, etc. My mother made my dress, I wore her pearls. We had one attendant and had a gorgeous sit-down candlelit dinner at a reknowned Victorian hotel for just our families and absolutely closest friends.
My husband and I came up with a $5,000 budget. We are big do-it-yourselfers ... well, maybe me more so than him ... so we decided early that we were going to save some costs by catering it ourselves and making our own invitations, etc etc. We were doing alright at first, splurging in areas that meant more to us than others, but then we had a dilemma with the bridesmaid and groomsmen attire. I know traditionally they pay for their own, but we both felt very strongly that it was rediculous to ask someone to shell out a couple hundred dollars to stand by you while you exchange vows. So nearly $2,000 later and a few extra guests, we turned up with a $10,000 wedding. Not over the top, but still quite nice.