A lot can depend on the type of ceremony you're having - for example, if you're having a Church wedding, you're going to be greatly restricted compared to a JOP or ordained friend. Your budget isn't tiny, remember that there are only three things you NEED to get married - 1) Someone to marry you, 2) A license, and 3) Someone to witness/officiate the nuptials... After that it's window dressing and gravy, but the moment you invite a guest, they MUST be hosted properly (i.e. shouldn't be expected to open their wallet during the ceremony/reception). The best way to keep the costs down for the wedding is to distinguish between a "Need" vs. a "Want" ... You WANT tall floral centerpieces towering over your guests, you NEED a table/chair for them to sit. You WANT a dress from Kleinfeld's, you NEED a dress you can afford regardless of were you purchase it. You WANT a work of art cake by Margaret Braun, you NEED a cake in your budget (Highly recommend Collette's Cakes in Chelsea Square!)... You WANT to spend $26,000. You NEED to remember you don't need to go broke planning a wedding and it's o.k. to not meet/exceed your budget. Imagine dropping your budget down by $6000 because unexpected expenses happen, this gives you a little buffer zone. It's better to go under budget than it is to go over budget!
Next, write out the real-world guest list. Often people say "100 guests" but have forgotten to actually DO the step of "Bill & Betty Bob", BillyJo & Bobby Sue - and their kids Stewy, Lucy, and Bessy, Mom & Dad, Mom & Dad, Sister and Guest, us!, then add those numbers up. You never know, you could be sitting at 60 guests or you could be sitting at 200, remember to allow for add-ons from your parents if they're helping pay for the wedding. Never forget "Ye who pays gets a say, if it's not physically in your bank account, it does NOT exist!" It happens frequently enough that people have unexpected expenses come up and can't help the BG out as planned, one bride on another board just had her (aunt) venue cancel out on her relatively close to the wedding. Stuff like that happens, as Frankie would say "BE PREPARED!"...
You may want to post this also on the local boards for suggestions. But I recommend thinking outside of the box of traditional wedding venues. Look into Restaurants that have private rooms available for rent. Also check into club halls like your local Irish-American, Italian-American or German, etc clubs or Veterans Halls (VFW). Many of them rent out their halls, and some even have caterers that they work with so it would be like a traditional reception venue. Also look into city owned facilities. I know where I live several of the cities and park systems own buildings that are very nice & can be rented out. You just have to either use one of their preferred vendors or find one of your own to bring in.
Tips to help with budget
"Thank you cards - skip the photo holding the thank you sign. You'll end up spending roughly $1-2 a thank you card with envelope for those. "