The Frugal Catholic had the privilege of meeting Whitley Osterhout, a professional wedding planner in Washington state, in 2018. I was impressed with the love and sincerity with which she executes her profession. Whitley shares with my Frugal Catholic readers her insights into having a “frugal” DIY Wedding!!! Enjoy. Whitley’s email is email@example.com.
1. TFC— How long have you been a wedding planner in Washington?
WO—In total, I’ve been in the wedding industry for four years specializing in Wedding Planning and two years on my own in my business.
2. TFC—What made you go into this field, and how did you train for this profession?
WO—It just happened! I always knew I wanted to own my own business and constantly pull in two directions--logistics and creativity, but I couldn’t seem to find the proper vocation. I went to college and received my Associates in Business and planned to go into the bookkeeping field. Months after graduating, however, I got thrown into the coordinator's role the morning of my cousin’s wedding and instantly knew it was something I needed to pursue. After my Associates in Business, I was accepted into a year-long Wedding Planner Internship. After completing 125 weddings there, I took a three-month online course to receive my Wedding Planner Certification.
3. TFC—What is the highest-priced wedding you have planned so far, and what was it like? And what was the lowest priced wedding plan you’ve done, and how did it rate?
WO—That’s a tricky question. I would guess between $40,000-$50,000. I had a bride from Texas get married up here in the Pacific Northwest, and they rented out a house on top of the cost of a $5,500 venue; and since she isn’t local, she ended up having to hire everything out. It was absolutely stunning and very well done. My sister’s wedding at $8,000 is the cheapest I’ve ever done. Typically if it’s a budget-conscious bride, she won't find value in a Wedding Coordinator.
4. TFC—Let’s say I want to have a frugal wedding. What would it cost, and where would I begin my DIY wedding plans?
WO—There are a couple of variants that will guide you to develop a reasonable budget for your wedding. The first is your venue. Is it a typical venue where prices start at $3,500 and go up from there? Or are you using a community-type building that is more of a labor of love but has great potential? The second variant is guest count. Not only is it a lot of people, but the more guests you have, the more tables you’ll have, food, centerpieces, dessert, etc. The third thing that dramatically affects the cost is, do you have family and friends willing to fill in the gaps for Professional Wedding Vendors? (DIY floral, catering it yourself, playing a Spotify playlist, etc.)
I did my sister’s 150 person wedding for $8,000 two years ago. And that included a wedding dress, bridal party gifts, and all those other little things people don’t think to account for in the overall budget. AnnaMae (my sister) got married at the beautiful Greenfield Farm and Gardens, which two years ago went for the rate of $4,000. Half of her total budget! However, being in the wedding industry, I had the resources to cut costs that all brides may not have (keep that in mind). Once you have an estimated wedding budget overall and have picked a venue, your following two vendors to find are the photographer and the caterer. Luckily the photographer my sister used was a family friend and no longer had it as a full-fledged business, so we got a fantastic deal. (If there’s one thing I wouldn’t budget on, it’s a beautiful photographer, since the photos are all you have left of this particular day, and you want to be happy with them.) For the food, we had another family friend who had a food truck they took to fairs for years, so they knew where to cut costs!
I ended up being the one-woman show the day of my sister’s wedding. Bridesmaid, Sister, Wedding Planner (though I did hire out a Wedding Coordinator to take over for me the day.) And I also had to act as the DJ and make announcements since the venue came with the speaker. Was the wedding beautiful? Yes! Were my sister and brother-in-law happy! Of Course! But to me, the whole day was a blur.
I think to have a DIY wedding, you have to be diligent. Do you want your family members and friends enjoying the big day or working it? If you decide not to go entirely DIY wedding, I highly recommend hiring a wedding pro who will be there that day to make it seamless. Before the wedding, there are other things you can do to cut costs, such as buying your linens and ironing them, coming up with your pre-made centerpieces, or even having that one aunt, who always wants to help, make all the cupcakes for the day of. You have to decide what’s best and realistic for your big day.
5. TFC—Do you have a time-table-countdown schedule you could share?
WO— Every timeline varies, but here’s a basic timeline.
10:00 AM—Eastwood Events Arrives and set up begins
10:15 AM—Rental items arrive
11:00 AM—Floral arrives
1:00 PM—Photographer and videographer arrives
1:15 PM—Photographer detailed shots
1:30 PM—First look
2:00 PM–Caterer arrives
2:30 PM—Dessert arrives
3:00 PM—DJ arrives
4:00 PM–Guests begin to arrive
4:15 PM—Guests to be seated
4:25 PM—Line up for the processional
4:30 PM—Ceremony begins
5:05 PM—Cocktail hour begins
5:15 PM—Finish family photos, sign marriage license
5:45 PM—Guests to be seated for dinner
5:50 PM—Grand entrance
6:00 PM—Dinner begins
6:20 PM—Guests grab a drink for toasts
6:40 PM—Toasts begin
7:00 PM—Cutting of the dessert
7:15 PM—First dance
7:20 PM—Father/daughter dance
7:25 PM—Mother/son dance
7:30 PM—Open dancing
9:30 PM—Last call for alcohol
9:45 PM—Grand exit
10:00 PM—Eastwood Events leaves
6. TFC–What are eight ways you might have for paring down wedding costs? WO–Try these eight.
Buy your wedding linens, iron them, and then you can resell them in a FB wedding group after the event.
Join as many local wedding buy/sell groups as you can. This group comprises local brides selling anything from their wedding that they used once, and you get the discount price.
Make your desserts, and buy your one-tier cake to cut. Or buy sheet cakes for your guests. You’d be amazed how much money you can save by purchasing sheet cakes vs. a three-tiered cake, and it’s more practical for cutting.
The big trend I see right now is that brides use a greenery garland as a centerpiece for all of the tables. This is a straightforward DIY, especially for us living in the Pacific Northwest.
Let’s talk attire. There are so many alternative ways to buy wedding gowns now. A personal favorite of mine right now is Brides For a Cause http://bridesforacause.com. You can purchase wedding gowns here for less than half the price. Some dresses are previously worn, and boutiques donate others. I especially like the meaning behind this company, for a portion of their proceeds goes to an ill bride’s wedding.
Spotify your music playlist. I've heard of this happening many times. I would say, however, if you want to save on your DJ, then hire a Wedding Coordinator, and visa versa. But you need either a DJ or a Wedding Coordinator, if not both. Both of them keep an eye on the timeline and flow of the day; otherwise, things will get off track.
For your DIY wedding floral, go to your local Farmer’s Market and use what they currently have in bloom. It will help cut some costs!
Go through a rental company for signage or any other tiny items you need. These items will cost less to rent than to buy, and it’s one less thing you have to worry about storing after the wedding.
7. What is your best wedding advice, or what is the best way to STAY married?
WO—My top piece of advice is that love and marriage are a choice, and my second piece of advice is that both love and marriage should be a giving contest. I believe there are days in a marriage where you may not like the other spouse, but it’s essential to choose still to love him or her. I also think the number one cause of disagreements is derived from selfishness and thinking of ourselves first. If we focus on the giving and not the taking, then it’s more likely to be a happy, healthy relationship and marriage.
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.