Here's a thought that a lot of people will probably think that I'm crazy for even bringing up.
You don't REALLY need a wedding cake to get married.
Or flowers, or linens, or lighting, or a band, or catering, or anything other than a marriage license, a witness, and an officiant. You don't even need a big white dress.
My inlaws were married during World War II. She couldn't afford fancy shoes so she went barefoot because the only white shoes she had were her nursing school shoes and she didn't want to wear those. They got married at his mother's house and they didn't have a store-bought cake, a caterer, or music. They're still married after 67 years.
Kids spend an entire week in kindergarten learning the difference between a "need" and "want." With the advent of "reality" tv where everyone is apparently entitled to a $500,000 wedding, it seems like a lot of people have lost the ability to distinguish between what they need and what they want. And it seems to make people unhappier, more nervous, and a lot more stressed during the process of planning the wedding.
Brides spend so much time worrying about what they "have to have," and worrying that their weddings won't measure up, they lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day you're going to be married even if you don't have a reception at all.
Here's another idea that might be considered traitorous: Your wedding isn't the most important day of your life. Ask any woman who has children what the best day of her life was, and I doubt that "my wedding" would be number one on the list. Yes, your wedding day is important, definitely in the top ten best days, but again, at the end of the day you're going to be married whether you said "I do" in front of 500 guests or at city hall.
Don't get so wrapped up in the details of the reception that you lose sight of the marriage. Yes, I'm totally willing and able to make you an awesome wedding cake that will enhance any wedding reception, but it's an optional item.
I make cakes because it's a fun and creative thing to do, and I like the idea of having a job that makes people happy, sappy as that seems. I don't, however, kid myself into thinking that what I do has any direct impact on the success or failure of a marriage.
If your budget doesn't allow for a huge wedding cake it isn't going to ruin your life to get a smaller one. If having matching linens and aisle runners isn't at the top of your list, don't worry about it. If you're allergic to flowers the wedding police aren't going to arrest you for not having any.
If certain things are very important to you then put your money into them, but remember that it's still a "want." At the end of the day it's about the bride and groom deciding to spend the rest of their lives together, and that's a lot more important than what shade of pink is the "must have" for this year.