Planning now is genius. Take advantage of all the clearance Christmas stuff. Pier 1 is great high end merchandise on deep clearance right now. I bought $3 stemless wine glasses for .68 at Pier 1, decoupaged white tissue over the outside with a 50/50 Elmer's glue & water mix and put a tea light inside.
Repurpose items that you already have laying around. save glass jars (pickles, jelly, sauce, etc), soaking the label off and scrubbing them clean. put some sand or rice in the bottom of each jar, and nestle a votive candle inside. group a variety of sizes/shapes together in the center of a table for a unique look.
Have your guests write up memories they have had with the couple and print them out on small 4x6 cards. Display them on the tables throughout the jarred candles for interesting conversation starters.
For food, I'm not sure of your budget, so I don't know if you have the $ to do anything of a meal, or if you want to stick with some hor'douvres/desserts. A savings club store (Sam's Club, Costco, etc) can have great deals on individual serve items. I'm catering a party for 300, and the entire meal (roast, chicken, ziti, 2 salads, roll/butter, desserts) will cost less than $4.75 per person. If you don't want to cook it all yourself (or don't have the space) try calling the local high school or vocational school to see if their home economics/culinary class would consider it as a project. You would provide the food, they'd cook it all.
Start figuring out where you're going to hold the party. You may be able to cut a deal by reserving it a year in advance.
Borrow some cds and copy music onto cds in random order; play at the reception on a large stereo (if you don't have one, ask around to see if you can borrow one).
For my In-Law's 40th anniversary party decorations, I searched the internet for things like the top movies and songs from that year and also any events or celebrity birthdays that happened on that day (4/4 in this case). I printed them out on pretty paper and mounted them on card stock that I had folded into a tent card. I placed them along the centers of the tables and the guests had such fun reminiscing over them. I also kept some of them to put in their scrapbook later.
You could also ask a crafty friend or relative to make the other decorations. I often get asked to make decorations for parties and I love contributing!
Oh wonderful! I am planning mine too which is in a year!! Good idea to plan ahead :) You don't mention whether or not you are planning a dinner. I once went to a wedding and the couple had a potluck for their reception. That would be a really nice idea, for everyone to bring a dish and have a buffet set up on tables. There were tea lights on the table which were bought at the dollar store. If it's a night of dancing, perhaps hire a student DJ as their prices would be better. :)
For a gift I purchased an inexpensive photo album and as the guests arrived, I took their picture. I had them sign their names and any comments. I then attached the photo beside their signatures. My parents loved it. My Mom even added the cards that they received to the album. I included a family photo for the cover. You may want to "assign" someone to this job, as I found it difficult to always be there as guest arrived with all of my other duties.
Also, place photos of their wedding and any other early photos of the couple throughout the venue or on one table. Guests really want to see these pictures and it is an inexpensive way to help decorate.