Tag Archives: wedding

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 FemmeFrugality.com"

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!

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

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!

Cut the Wedding Catering Crap

budget wedding catering

Source: NTC Photo

When we walk into a meeting with a vendor, we have done our research.  We’ve called several related vendors, received verbal price quotes, and researched all the wedding resources that we can, but we can’t know where the excess is with every vendor. Brian and I have established a good cop/bad cop routine, if you will, for these situations. I ask all the questions about timelines, wants, requirements, and how to make the word full of more polka dots and Brian is in charge of the “what can we do to make this less expensive” shtick.

With having to use one of four caterers, we knew that we were going to go with the cheapest option, but still thought it was high priced.  When it came time to get down to the nitty gritty overpricedness with our caterer, we were a bit surprised at how well it turned out, especially given the experiences we had with them via e-mail.

A few things our catering rep helped us with:


Like going to your grandma’s house, caterers are going to sashay more appetizers around the room than your wedding guests will ever possibly eat in 1 hour.  Our package included 2 table displays (veggies, fruits, cheeses) and 5 passed appetizers in addition to our dinner, cake or pie or both for dessert, and food favors.  During our internet investigation stage, we saw the app displays from previous weddings at our venue and we got to taste test the passed apps at our caterer meeting.  We were able to cut 2 of the passed appetizers at $3 per person from the list and feel confident that our guests will be well fed.


Our package called for two entrée options which left us at the higher end of the budget by thinking beef and fish.  After asking our caterer about options for vegetarian friends, who to be quite honest may not even be vegetarians now, we were able to add on a third option which was significantly cheaper (almost $20 a plate).  Now, when we budgeted out the cost of our total bill, we went based off the most expensive option so we have no future price shocks.  Whether or not anyone orders the vegetable napoleon is to be seen, but our budget may see a credit if they do.


The full table of glistening dishes wasn’t part of our vision.  We got ruthless here.  We cut appetizer plates and bar glasses trading for plastic which the caterer is providing.  Instead of having a bread plate and butter knife, we’re having our croustade served on the salad plate.  Our knife does double duty as a steak knife and dinner knife.  We swapped dessert china plates for eco-friendly paper plates that we’re stamping to match our wooden forks.  We ousted the spoons, tea cups, and saucers for polka dot stirrer and insulated cups and fun creams for the coffee and tea service.  We’re spending under $75 to provide our items, which means we were saving almost $750 plus the tax and delivery fees that would be added on top from the rental company.

In the end, all Brian and I can say from our experiences is: don’t be afraid to ask how you can work with the vendor to help minimize costs on your end!

Wedding DIY or BUY #1: Colorful Cutlery

Wooden Cutlery with Dots

Our venue does not provide tableware. At a certain point of paying .69 per fork and spoon, you might want to bang your head off the table instead.  Is it really worth it?  I mean, I love you, mom (thanks for reading!), but I’ve set the table at family dinner for years and we get by just fine with our knife, fork, and spoon.  We even reuse our forks for dessert sometimes—we’re heathens!

When we met with our caterer in October, she gave us some ideas on things we could cut.  I’ll share more ideas in a future post, but one idea she suggested was to do something fun for the dessert course plate and fork and not rent those pieces.  I loved the idea and immediately searched the far corners of Pinterest for cheaper alternatives.  We decided to purchase plastic plates, but the forks came down to two options: dipped handles on metal forks or stamped polka dot handles on wooden forks.  And as my family advised, there’s no way I wanted to watch 140 painted forks drip dry.

In total, the project cost us just under $15 for 200 forks and took about an hour with soon-to-be-newlyweds teamwork.  That’s a $74 savings for our wedding budget and $35 cheaper than anywhere online.  Cha-ching, saving!

Your Shopping List:

–          New #2 Pencils – one per person per stamp color
–          Stamp Pad – pigment ink works wonderfully and makes nice, bright colors–dye ink can be duller
–          Wooden Forks/Spoons/Knives – order extra to account for any broken tines/pieces
–          Libations of your choice (not included in cost)

The In-depth How To:

  1. Set up a comfy area to sit and stamp.  Drink your libation.  This is going be one of the easiest crafts to save some money.
  2. Ah, step 2, yes, this is where you get ready to actually start the stamping. Lay out your forks in sets of 3 or 4.  Watch out for broken pieces—there will be a few, discard those.  You should probably take a sip because this craft is so stressful!
  3. Start with lighter color dots and move to darker colors using the eraser end of the pencil as a stamper.
  4. Periodically sip your libation.  Do not accidentally put your pencil eraser in the wrong ink colors and not on the handles—this will happen the more you drink. Not that I’m saying that from experience or anything.
  5. If you’re making a confetti dot pattern, use overlapping dots as well as dots off the sides of the handle to add a nice visual effect.  There are many stamps you can purchase to do stripes/chevron/swirls/words/perfect polka dot patterns.  They cost more money.
  6. Let forks dry while you repeat steps 2-5 as necessary.  Forks are generally dry to touch within 20 seconds.
  7. Impress your guests with your crafty skills!