The Budget Savvy Bride » Joscelyn helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Sat, 28 Mar 2015 20:01:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Wedding day (and my apologies) Mon, 03 Dec 2012 13:00:32 +0000 Dear fellow budget Savvy Brides and Readers,

First things first. I owe every single one of you a heartfelt apology. I’ve been very sucky as a bride blogger. I promise I have a reason though. One that I couldn’t control, I won’t get into too many details, it’s personal and not something I want the world to know, but I owe you an explanation.

In the days, weeks, and months leading up to my wedding, my family was falling apart. I spent a lot of time running back and forth trying to find some sense of stability and trying to keep everything on track. Making sure payments were made, attending final meetings and fittings, finishing making decorations, confirming day of appointments and trying to keep my own head on straight all while mediating arguments within my family.  My parents and their relationship were crumbling, it’s still not back on solid ground. My dad was taking things hard and in turn, got sick. Two days before my wedding, we were rushing him to the ER at 10 in the evening and we were there until 3:00 a.m. the day before my big day. The day of, it took everything in me not to break down. Strangely enough, my photographer was the person who helped me pull it together, she managed to distract me and offered me a hug I needed more than I think she knew. She also reminded me of one important detail that I had nearly forgotten….

That day was about me, and Nathan, and no one else.

It didn’t matter that, in that moment, my family was exploding in my living room, all that mattered was that Nathan was waiting for me at the church ready to make me his wife.

And, in the end, my day was perfect, for that reason.

The best advice I can give, whether you are a budget savvy bride or have the world at your finger tips, is that on that day nothing else matters. Not your budget, the arguments you had along the way, your decorations, your food. All that matters is that you are standing beside the person that you love, and that you know that forever will never be long enough with them.

And with the I leave you with these. (All photos belong to Jessica Vogelsang)

With wishes of life long love and happiness to you all.


If you would like to see more of our perfect day, please visit Jessica’s blog

]]> 4
My centerpiece process Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 My inspiration was found via Pinterest, as so many things are these days, and looked something like this.

(unfortunately I don’t know where this original image came from, my apologies!)

Perfect for our barn setting, simple, and elegant. Plus, I had a hundred mason jars at my disposal left over from my parents canning this fall (I only needed 30). I decided to use the quart mason jars as opposed to the smaller ones and am using only one per table. All they needed was some yellow to brighten them up and some of my own simple touches.

I started with this:

I then added some lace around the top of the jar

I wanted to make them my own, so I decided to add some twine and buttons instead of rafia and clear pebbles.

I didn’t really like it though…I thought they looked sloppy and plain. Not what I was going for. So raffia it was. I picked up a couple bundles from Pat Catans ($1 each) and hoped that I liked it better.

eh. Still not what I was going for. So I trimmed off the edges, made the bow a little smaller, and stuck it in a grapevine wreath with lace ribbon laced through it. MUCH better!

We’re going to fill them with water and stick a floating candle in them, much like in the picture, and we should be good to go!

Centerpiece actual budget:

Mason Jars: $0

Raffia: 3 bundles for $3

Grapevine wreaths: 30 for $.50 each ($15)

Lace:  On sale at Micheal’s for $.75 a spool. 5 spools for $3.75

Buttons: 2 bags from for $30

Giant spool of twine for $10 from JoAnn’s (If anyone needs some twine, let me know, I’ll send it your way!)

Total for 30 centerpieces: $61.75

I had extra lace, buttons and raffia that I’m going to return so my actual total after returns is probably around $50.



]]> 0
The Guest Book Tue, 25 Sep 2012 13:29:30 +0000 One of our DIY projects is the guest book. I really wanted a thumbprint tree, but I couldn’t find one that I would even consider spending $100-150 for the size of our wedding. I scoured Etsy for days. The most reasonable one I found that I REALLY liked was $89. Still not something I wanted to spend.

Finally, I realized, I have a super crafty fiancee, who is more than capable of drawing me a tree! Problem solved, we could get it done for under $10 plus the price of a frame… so maybe $15-20 total! HOORAY!

Well it hasn’t been that easily unfortunately. Nathan has been really picky… his first try was on a canvas panel 18×24. He hated it, he believes that the marker ran and it looks sloppy. It’s my favorite of his two tries…

The second try was on poster board, same marker, same design, a little bigger. He hates it. I don’t understand his reasoning on that one either.

Now we’re stuck between the budget savvy option that I think is adorable, and spending a lot of money on one from Etsy, which are beautiful, but I’m not sure I want to spend money on something I really don’t have to.

Maybe I’ll have Nathan try again if he can find the time…I’ve heard that the third time’s a charm.

Any advice? I need some budget savvy help on this one…

My favorite, The tree on the canvas
I wouldn’t mind using this one either though!


Nathan’s only tool outside of the canvas and poster board


Which one do you like? Help, Please!








]]> 6
My DIY Bridal shower Thu, 13 Sep 2012 13:00:18 +0000 In case I haven’t said it before…I LOVE my Bridesmaids. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch. For my bridal shower, they used my wedding colors and made them their own! I’ll let the pictures do the talking on this one.























Everything was made by/assembled by hand. The favors were plastic baskets with lemon heads, lemon aid packets, yellow lollipops, and a thank you card. The glasses for drinks were mason jars wrapped with yellow ribbon and twine with yellow and white striped straws. The center pieces were live Gerber Daisies (my favorite flower), and we had a wide variety of lemon foods to eat, including homemade chicken tenders with lemon glaze, lemon fluff dessert, lemon cookies, salad with lemon dressing, and lemon jello shots (in real lemons)

Everything was beautiful, even down to my ribbon boquet. Even though it was inexpensive, it was everything I could have ever wanted. Their budget: $250 for eveything, including venue, food, favors, plates, napkins, silverware, etc.

Oh and, my favorite gift… A barn slat sign handmade by my cousin and sister with an Avett Brother’s quote on it. It’s perfect for our venue, I can’t wait to show it off on November 3.

]]> 0
Keeping it local Mon, 20 Aug 2012 15:30:42 +0000  

While being budget savvy has a LOT to do with saving money, I also feel that it also is important to support local businesses.

Almost everything we’ve bought and the businesses we are using have been from the area.

Our photographer was a local photographer just starting out in the wedding business, our cake is from a local baker in a very small town not far from where we live, our flowers are from a local corner florist, and all of our craft supplies (the cornhole set, paint, etc.) are from a small craft store which has only one store total that I know of.

We also wanted to have local wine at our reception. All I drink is wine, and for my “specialty” drink I wanted to have a mulled wine for our guests to stay warm in case it was a chilly November day.

My goal was to find a winery that supported local businesses and wasn’t one that you could find just anywhere. My winery of choice was Flickerwood wine cellars in Kane, PA.

They do not sell their wine in PA wine and spirit stores. The only place you can find it is at the winery. Their reasoning…to support local business and tourism in the area. Kane, PA isn’t a very wealthy area but it is gorgeous.

Since we bought 3 cases of wine, we received 10% off our order and can spread the word about their wine and beautiful vineyard.

While it might not have been the most “budget savvy” move, (Though it wasn’t a non-budget savvy move either!) I feel good about supporting and helping to keep small, local businesses open.


]]> 1
My adventures in repurposing Tue, 07 Aug 2012 16:30:37 +0000 I had seen so many chalk board menus in recent weddings and I wanted one for my own, for the bar to list our drink selections for the night. Luckily I had just the thing hiding under the couch at my parent’s house.

In my college dorm I had a chalk board hanging where my residents could leave me messages (I was an RA), and that was the perfect thing to use for our bar menu, the only problem, it was blue not yellow.

The original board

My tools for my endeavor included sandpaper and white paint from around the house, yellow paint left over from our cornhole set, a paint brush and some painters tape.

1. My first step in re-purposing my chalk board was to sand down the blue paint so that new paint would take.











2. I then taped off the actual chalk board and put down a white base coat so the the yellow would cover the blue











3. My last step was to paint my chalk board with the yellow paint, and two coats later…











My beautiful yellow chalk board :)

]]> 0
It’s electric! Tue, 31 Jul 2012 13:00:31 +0000 Choosing music was one of the most difficult things for Nathan and I. We tossed around the idea of a D.J., live band, and kind of just doing it on our own with an Ipod. The last one quickly became a non-option. We didn’t want to be worrying about music lags with 250 guests and the D.J/Band also tend to act as the M.C for the evening and keep the night movie. We didn’t want our parents or friends to have to take on that role.

Every band we looked at was unreasonably priced, and with a band, you’re never really certain what you’re going to get. So, that one became a non-option also.

A D.J. it was then. Every D.J. up until we found ours was so astronomically priced that a D.J. wasn’t looking feasible either. We emailed/called over a dozen D.J’s in the Pittsburgh area and while many of them seemed professional and experienced, none of them were in the price range.

Finally we found D.J. Bill. He was $600 for 6 hours and an extra $75 for 7 hours. Nathan and I decided on 7 hours, with the final price being $675! We were thrilled. He agreed to stick to our do not playlist we provided, had experience at our venue, and genuinely seemed interested in our wedding and our likes and dislikes as a couple.

I struggled with putting together a do not/please play list so I enlisted the help of my bridesmaids. Here’s what they came up with… I NEED to play Justin Beiber and Nicki Minaj and the train, and Turning Japanese by the vapors. My DO NOT playlist from my great friends includes, Don’t cha by the pussycat dolls, hero by Enrique Iglesias, and like a virgin by Madonna.

So, as you can see my friends are SUPER helpful and HILARIOUS.

On top of a D.J. we’re also having a live accordion player to play our bridal dance polka. Here in western PA, the bridal dance is one of the biggest parts of our weddings and I have a very Slovakian side of the family, who loves to polka. Our photographer, when I told her what a big deal the bridal dance was to our family, suggested that I call a friend of her family’s that plays the traditional push box accordion. As a thank you to my parents I called up this individual and he agreed to play our bridal dance for no charge. I can not wait to see my parent’s reaction and the reaction of our guests. I hope they’re as excited as I am!
From the way the accordion player described his instrument, this is what I’m picturing!

What are your music options? Do you have anything special planned?

]]> 1
My guest list mama drama Tue, 24 Jul 2012 13:00:44 +0000 I know I’ve mentioned before that we’re inviting around 250 people to our wedding. This number isn’t always very budget savvy and wasn’t (and really, still isn’t) in our case. When you have this amount of people, catering bills go up, alcohol bills go up, and if you’re getting into favors, centerpieces, and decorations, the prices for those items can skyrocket also.

I’m DIYing my centerpieces with items that can be found around a house, and we’re not doing favors, instead we’re donating money to St. June’s hospital in memory of Nathan’s late sister, and putting a simple thank you on each table, and the decorations (rope lighting, table covering, etc), thankfully are included in our venue costs. That still leaves our catering bill, which is taking over half of our budget.

My parents are helping with our catering bill since it’s so much, and I make so little, and Nate doesn’t have a job yet, having just graduated.

Unfortunately this leaves the drama that comes with letting others help foot the bill. We tried to split the guest list as evenly as possible between the two families. It didn’t really work as planned, as Nate’s mom has 6 brothers and sisters and Nate’s dad has 4 with both sides having multiple children and grandchildren. Nate’s side ultimately received a couple more invites, just by luck of the bloodline when we first planned our guest list and my parents weren’t too happy about it. (Let’s keep in mind that it maybe came to about 10 people more on his side than mine)

I’d like to share a particularly hairy moment in my guest list planning.

About a week after finishing our guest list, I’m sitting at my parents house one Saturday and my mom comes STORMING down the stairs, takes one look at me and completely looses it. Now imagine my surprise, having done nothing wrong in recent memory, still on cloud 9 over planning a wedding, when she’s screaming at me that Nate’s parents are impossible. Nate’s mom has a bigger side, having more brothers and sisters, therefore, more invites. Well Nate’s father INSISTED that he get the same amount, which meant him inviting more friends to the wedding because his family was smaller and that any extra invites that we didn’t use on my side go to him. My mom was none too happy hearing this proposal and it turned out to be my wedding, therefore my problem. So after talking to Nate’s parents and explaining that we tried to split the guest list evenly between both families and I intended to keep it as close to even as possible, we came to the conclusion that his dad didn’t need to actually invite the whole town Nate grew up in and we were going to try to keep it to family and close friends.

Luckily no one came out injured. I thought for sure my mom was going to claw someones eyes out. In that moment, I seriously considered eloping, but I already had my dress and wanted to opportunity to show it off. (haha)

At the end of the day, Nov. 3rd is a day for Nate and I to celebrate a new beginning in our lives, the only people I need there are Nate and a witness, everyone else is secondary and while I’m excited to spend my special day with them because they’re my friends and family and deserve to be there, I’m more excited to call Nathan my husband, so all of the mama drama will be worth it in the end.

Also, remember as a bride, It’s not your job to please everyone. It’s not possible. As long as your enjoy your big day, that’s all that will matter!
A guest list flow chart! I wish I would have found it sooner.


Did you have to make cuts to your guest list? How did you do it?!

]]> 0
DIY Bean Bag Toss Thu, 12 Jul 2012 13:00:58 +0000 Remember when I told you we were making our own bean bag toss board for the reception?

IT’S DONE! Hooray!

We were worried that our guests would be waiting a long time between the ceremony and reception while we take pictures and we’re hoping for good weather so our guests won’t be sitting around twiddling their thumbs!

I’m lucky to have such a talented fiance. He hand painted the one board and drew the design on his own. He designed and N&J surrounding a G for the (future) Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Gaston. Here’s the process…and my own bean bag making trial pair. I’m still working on the gray and yellow ones for the wedding. They’re sewn but need filled and closed. I’ll make sure I show you a picture when they’re finished.

Right now the other board is just silver. Nate’s thinking of drawing out a design for that one also, so if it happens you’ll be the first to see :)

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! The bottom left picture is the final outcome. Overall the cost was under $70… $30 for each board, which we purchased at a local craft store and under $10 for the paint, the yellow was $1 samples at Lowes, the spray paint $4 for two cans and the white paint we had laying around. . The beanbags didn’t cost me anything to make. My mom had some leftover fabric from a previous project that I used and we also have popcorn around the house to fill them. Sorry they aren’t the best quality, all of the pictures are from my phone.

Are you doing anything for your guests while they wait for you?

]]> 3
Choosing our wedding photographer Tue, 26 Jun 2012 13:00:03 +0000 Meet Jessica, our lovely photographer, you can find her bio and her beautiful photography here.

Jessica’s sister was in my sorority at good old Saint Francis. Not long after I became engaged, L (Jessica’s sister), sent me a facebook message about her sisters photography business. I checked out Jessica’s facebook page and immediately contacted her.

We met Jessica the same day we found our venue and everything clicked. She was new to wedding photography and was offering a 50% discount to the first 5 couples who signed with her including a free engagement session. Jessica will be with me all day, from the time I’m getting ready until my last guest leaves all for $1000. I couldn’t believe our luck, not only was she a talented photographer and shared our same style, she was well within our price range. Everywhere else we had looked was between the $2500-$3500 range and it wasn’t feasible. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement!!

We wasted no time booking her for our wedding and planning our Engagement shoot.

Speaking of Engagement shoots… We had ours done at the end of last November at a local park where we frequently run. I really wanted to include my dog in the pictures, she is part of our family after all, and boy was that a bad idea. She chewed through two leashes, and walked through every mud puddle she could find. I love my engagement pictures because they are definitely the style we were going for, but I wish I had more and I wish I hadn’t taken my high strung pup with me. It was an experience I’ll never forget though, and I’m thankful that we have them.

Here are a few of my favorites…You can see more at Jessica’s site

 The last picture of our session.

My all time favorite!

 The one good puppy picture

I love the weeds!





]]> 2