Author Archives: Katie Jakub

Free Wedding Budget Template

Today’s post is written by wedding contributor, Katie Jakub. She’s super savings-savvy and has so many great tips.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom to grab the free budgeting/planning template!

Spreadsheet with heart overlay. Text on top reads "Free Wedding Budget Template & More! by KJ of"

Several weekends ago, my fiancé, Brian, and I celebrated my mother’s birthday with a big family dinner at a hole in the wall. 

As the evening progressed and the BYOB wine loosened everyone’s lips, my sister hurled the insult:

“Ryan [her husband] and I have decided that you two are the cheapest out of everyone in the family.”

Brian and I looked at each other and laughed because each family has their own dynamic of you-can’t-take-it-with-yous and save-every-last-penny. 

My sister and her husband edge into the former while we are closer to the latter part of the spectrum. We attempted to explain the differences in our situation compared to theirs — but oops! –my wine glass was empty and we quickly moved on.

Writing a Wedding Budget Without Debt

Brian and I consider ourselves frugal by choice because we refuse to walk down the aisle in any kind of wedding related debt.  

We are willing to spend money on the wedding, but we understand that for every dollar that goes to our portion the wedding, a dollar comes from our joint fund. What this means is that both our home budget and wedding budget are akin to a holy text for us during this year of planning.

How to Talk About Your Wedding Budget

Budgets are yucky.  Luckily for me, Brian hearts macros, spreadsheet, and formulas almost as much as he loves me.

Maybe more?

But he hates hates hates following a budget. 

On the other side of the marital venture, I get a kick out of the challenge of coming in on or under goal, but talking about the budget when mathematical formulae are involved makes my eye twitch.

We have learned several techniques over the past months that have seemed to make a huge difference in discussing and following the wedding budget.


Find time between your Tiger King and Ozark binge watching sesh to talk about the budget together. 

Both people need to understand what is going on and you should never let your partner off the hook when they say, “I don’t get it.” I always hate looking at the numbers because they turn into a pile of math soup, but even something as simple as changing how we approached talking about the budget entirely shifted how I viewed the budget. 

We learned a simple trick at our Pre-Cana classes and it’s made a huge difference.  The cornfield is on the right, but try rephrasing the discussion to something similar to:

“When you’re ready to talk about the budget, I’m ready to listen.”  

It makes us giggle and breaks the tension of the topic.


To me, having pretty colors made the budget friendlier. 

To Brian, it was formulas. 

Even something as simple as having our budget on a cloud based drive has made it less painful to use. We can both access the budget at any point. It’s not stored on one person’s computer. We can both edit as needed, and even check while we’re on the go.


It’s nice to dream about your big day, but you can quickly become disappointed when reality and your budget don’t align. The earlier you can have candid and honest discussions with any parents/relatives that will be helping pay for the wedding, the sooner you can move on to the planning stage.

This also means knowing how much you can cover.

If you already have personal or couple budget in place, you’re a step ahead because you know what you can contribute.

A simple overall budget number is a perfect starting place. Here’s one for example:

  • We know that we’ve got $5,000 from your parents,
  • $2,000 from mine,
  • And we can save $3,000 by the wedding.  

From here you know you have a $10,000 total budget, and can plan accordingly.

An overall budget number can influence your first big decisions such as the venue — especially if you have Plaza dreams on a fire hall budget.

From there, you can start to narrow in on how much you spend on what with a more itemized budget.


Sometimes, keeping-up-with-the-newlyweds can feel like a three ring circus of vendors. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to have it all. 

Figure out what is absolutely essential for your wedding. Brian and I knew that we had to have cake and pie at our Pi Day Wedding.

Hilarious that we chose math as part of our wedding, right?

We also knew that making our own candy flavored liquor would be a special touch, but that a photo booth, up-lighting and a garden of flowers weren’t anywhere near the top of our list.  

It’s nice to want, but you definitely do not want to spend years paying off your wedding.


You negotiated a vendor’s price down? 


Whether it’s putting that money you saved towards a night out with your main squeeze or putting it towards a wish list item for the big day, you’ve got a little wiggle room to do something for you.  

When you’ve come in on budget, do something a bit smaller like a drinks out. You deserve it — you’ve put on your grown up BRIDE or GROOM-TO-BE plastered undies and followed your budget.

Free Wedding Budget Spreadsheet Template

To help you achieve wedding budget bliss or at least find your starting place, I’m including a copy of our free wedding budget template Excel file which includes:

  • Countdown clock.
  • Budget sheet.
  • Guest info.
  • Vendor info.
  • Seating charts.
  • Day of timeline.
  • Drop-off lists.
  • Must-have photo itinerary.
  • Songs for the DJ.  

Because this is a spreadsheet, you’ll easily be able to customize it and make the budget your own!

DIY or BUY: Kate Spade Style Centerpieces


Please welcome back Katie with another wedding post from her fab, polka-dot, Pi Day, DIY wedding! You can check out previous posts she’s written for Femme Frugality here

I’m not sure if it’s become obvious over the last several months, but I’ve got a polka dot addiction—the expensive kind, to boot, because I love Kate Spade and anything the company puts polka dots on.  When I had the fairytale moment imagining the grand scene that would play out at our reception, I saw dainty polka dot vases filled with frothy white flowers.  I started shopping, though, and the frosted dot vases I found were way too expensive (read:  $60-$90 per vase!!!!) to put on 16 tables.  So I turned to my dearest friends Google and Pinterest to help spark my inspiration and my patient then fiancé, Brian, to help me complete the task.

Luckily for me, I wasn’t the first person to attempt this endeavor and I found these instructions.  Here are a few modifications that we made:

The Vaaaaahses

  • This is hardly news to anyone, but bears reminding: your local dollar store is your friend! We were able to get vases for a $1 apiece.  If you’d like a mismatched look, a thrift store may get you deeper discounts.
  • Soak any dollar store vases in water to get the stickers off.  Man, were those a pain!
  • The bowls are cheap enough that you can buy an extra in case something happens.  As a previous scout, I know to be prepared.

Gettin’ Dotty

  • Instead of using painters tape, we used vinyl dots and dot outlines (courtesy of our best man’s company). The vinyl was a bit thicker so we could build up several layers of paint.
  • A hair dryer was our best friend to stretch the vinyl dots so they would curve nicely against the shape of the bowl.  In any other variation of directions, we didn’t see a way to get the paper sticker dots to mold.  Perhaps using smaller dots eliminates this problem.
  • We did the dots frosted and the opposite version where the dots weren’t frosted, but the rest of the vase was.  While they look pretty, the inverse version requires a lot of tape to mask off the sections in between dots.  Looking back, I wouldn’t have spent time on this, but I’ve included it in the cost.
  • Clean the glasses with paint thinner and let dry AFTER applying dots.  Skin oils make for weird spray patterns.
  • Not-so-pro tip: Don’t try to cover the frosted paint with clear gloss.  It negates the frosti-ness.

Centerpiece Perfection

  • Wrap the vases in newspaper for storage.  They scratch easily since the frosted paints sits on top of the glass, but doesn’t seep in like it would on a porous wood.
  • Using less expensive but fuller in season flowers (carnations, peonies) will cut down costs.
  • Dying the water with food coloring will help your dots show through.  We originally asked our florist for this, but somehow it didn’t happen. Oh well.

The Breakdown

Here’s what we spent:

  • 16 bowl vases  – $17.12
  • 2 tall vases for head table – $2.14
  • 2 cans frosted spray paint – $8.05
  • Vinyls – free, but could be sourced for < $10 with some searching
  • Painter’s tape – already had, but < $4 at a big box store if you need to buy

So if this matches your wedding style (or baby shower, wedding shower, etc) and meets your crafting comfort level, for less than $2.30 a piece, you can have Kate Spade-esque vases.

If anyone in the Pittsburgh area is in the market for some polka dot centerpieces or 40-some votives, let me know!

Wedding Photography // Elizabeth Anne Studios | Florist // Flowers by Terry

Party At Our House (We Did It Too!)


Although the wedding day has come and gone, the wedding posts don’t stop!  Brian and I just celebrated our 4-month anniversary—officially surpassing some extremely short celebrity marriages—and we still haven’t finished all the left over liquor, wine, and beer from the wedding.

What we planned: We used a combination of websites including TheKnot, A Practical Wedding, and Party Source as well as tips from previous brides and grooms to calculate how much we needed.  We unfortunately did not have assistance from our caterer with this although many couples we spoke to did. When we started sending out invitations for the wedding, our guest list was pushing 160 so we felt safer planning our liquor for 150 people since some estimates seemed extremely low (Party Source’s liquor would have been waaaaay off for us).  We did remember to factor in children, elderly, and those who did not drink.  We kept our timeline to the 5 hour time span at the venue for planning (if you’re hosting an after party at the hotel, you may want to include that extra time).

Elizabeth Anne Studios

In reality: We probably should’ve taken the hint when the liquor store asked us how often we made trips to buy liquor and wine!  When the final tally on guests came in, we landed at our magical number of 125 which worked wonderfully with our catering budget.  On the day of, we lost a few more people to illness and were down to about 120.  Our wedding started a bit early (apologies to the venue as most of the guests headed straight there!) and since it was also the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Pittsburgh, we continued to party after in the hotel.  We also highly encouraged people to drink our three specialty candy drinks (homemade and super easy!) and Apple Pi shots at 9:26:53pm (get it? 3.141592653)

Here are the stats:

KEB Liquor Chart
Wedding Photography // Elizabeth Anne Studios

BYOB Wedding (for the hosts, not the guests!)

Reception rules, state liquor laws, and other variables can effect your wedding alcohol budget. Figure out how to make the best of it, and cut costs as low as they'll go.

The date is getting closer!  Today our contributing writer, Katie Jakub, counts down to her Pi Day wedding with a look into liquor cost solutions.

Liquor: the sweet elixir that makes all of your relatives and friends shake their groove things on the dance floor.  Liquor has been giving Grandmas the courage to learn new-fangled dances since 2000 B.C.  However, the cost of liquor can add up quickly.

Many venues and their caterers require that if you’re providing liquor that you purchase it through them—the prices per package can range from nominal charges per person to $30, $40 and higher.  When you select a venue where you can bring your own alcoholic beverages, savings are in your future if you do it right.

Before we get to ways to save, make sure you know the alcohol laws of your state.  Certain states, such as Pennsylvania, do not allow you to bring liquor across the border if you’ve purchased them in other states.


If it’s illegal to transport across the border and you can’t price shop between different stores, your options are unfortunately pretty limited.   If you prefer premium brands, the big ways to save are to plan in advance, shop near the holidays when the prices drop, and to search for manufacturer and store coupons.  We found that the prices were lowest near Christmas when the big brands were marked down.  Pennsylvania’s state stores list their monthly sales online and regularly have coupons online and in the newspaper.   We also try to find the hanging coupons on our favorite brands when we buy our booze.

Good news: you can return liquor that is unopened if you have a receipt.  They do stare at you like you’re crazy when you do a return, though.


Competition in the alcohol market is your friend.  Party stores and warehouse clubs had the best prices from the locations we scouted in Ohio and Kentucky (we were visiting friends in Covington, we did not just go to look at liquor prices).  We did our final comparison between a Kentucky party warehouse store and the PA State stores.  Generally, the regular price of items in Kentucky was the sale price in PA and most of the items were on sale on average $4-$5 cheaper in Kentucky when we did our comparison.

The store where we window shopped gave 10% discounts on single item cases and 5% discounts on mixed cases.  They also had coupons on several of the items which meant multiple savings on one item.  If you’re traveling from one state to another for savings, just make sure you account for the price of gas.  Had we been able to buy in Kentucky, the savings would’ve paid for our trip and then some.

After the wedding, we’ll do a recap of how much we bought and how much we needed (and if someone had to do a liquor run!).  All of the numbers online have been very inconsistent and alcohol is something that we didn’t want to under-buy!

Just the Two of Us and Pinterest

Use Pinsperation to positively effect your wedding budget, negotiations with vendors, and more.

This post is written by our wedding contributor Katie, who is getting married this coming Pi Day!  Read on for how she used Pinterest to enhance her wedding savings.

For some brides, Pinterest can be the I Ching of wedding ideas, but it can also bring up anxiety and stress.  Check out these 5 tips to get your Pinterest addiction and wedding budget in check.


With Pinterest, it’s easy to dump everything all on a board and never look back.  For me, that’s not an option.  As a librarian, organization is how I survive.  To help keep my sanity, I broke my Pinterest boards out for the wedding into 10 or so different boards to help keep like thoughts together—novel, right?  But the best part of having everything organized from the beginning was that when we met with a vendor, I could pull up the board and say, “This is what we really love.  What can you do in our budget?”  With the baker, they were able to say that the look we really wanted would be fondant and it would cost more.  We nixed the fondant and went with a buttercream option that was just as pretty.  With the florist, she was able to suggest less expensive flowers with bigger blooms that would fill up the vases we made.


One of my favorite ways to find vendors on Pinterest is to search photographers in the Pittsburgh area to see what other couples have done.  A photographer will generally list all the vendors at a particular event when they do a blog post about the specific wedding.  We were able to find a DJ who was at our venue last August (hilariously enough for another Kate + Brian wedding) who gave us a reduced rate for our March date and threw in the cocktail hour for free after we mentioned how we found him!  We did do some browsing on Facebook, Wedding Wire, and The Knot.  Not to discredit any of the reviews, but for the most part, it seems like every bride had the best DJ ever so you may have to go with your gut instinct.


There are some incredibly wise event coordinators and brides who have shared their knowledge on Pinterest.   Their free wisdom is worth every penny.  Something as simple as putting a number on the RSVP that lined up with the guest in our spreadsheet has saved us at least 4 headaches as we’ve collected responses with no names on them so far.  I’m also much more open to the plan of taking off my dress, which has a zipper not a corset back, when I need to go to the bathroom because fighting into a stall with 26 yards of tulle will not end pretty for me or the dress.


Here’s where some more librarian skills have come in handy.  Searching the general Wedding category can be a great way to start when newly engaged.  When you get a theme in mind, it’s better to narrow in on those specifics topics.  For our Pi Day wedding, we’re trying to incorporate circles and polka dots into multiple aspects.  Having a specific theme in mind helped me clear out the clutter, in a sense, because I could search specifically for circle escort cards, dot wedding invites, etc and not get too caught up in all the ideas out there.  When I get stuck and need some inspiration, I head back to the main Wedding category.


I would consider this a bride’s biggest Pinterest downfall.  It all looks so pretty, but if you or your fiancé/fiancée have never ever accomplished a craft on your own, before your wedding is not the time to start.  In a society where both parties are generally working full-time, the stress of crafting in the evenings and making first-timer mistakes will start to outweigh the budget help.  My suggestion for the non-crafty folk who really do want a personal touch is to find one thing where you and your partner can have a blast and if it happens to save a few bucks, celebrate!  Already know that no matter what it’ll turn into DIY Hell?  Search on Etsy and eBay for vendors who may already have your crafts pre-made for a few more cents or invite your super crafty friends over to help and provide the wine.  If you’re lucky like me, your friends will travel for free booze!

Follow Femme Frugality and katej0805 for more wedding advice over on Pinterest!