The DIY Wedding

The Frugal Catholic had the privilege of meeting Whitley Osterhout, a professional wedding planner in Washington state, in 2018, and I was impressed with the love and sincerity with which she executed her profession. Whitley is sharing with my Frugal Catholic readers her insights into how to have a “frugal” DIY Wedding!!! Enjoy. Whitley’s email is

1. TFC— How long have you been a wedding planner in Washington state?

WO—In total I’ve been in the wedding industry for 4 years specializing in Wedding Planning and 2 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 kind of happened! I always knew I wanted to own my own business and had a constant pulling in two directions of logistics and creativity, but couldn’t seem to find the right vocational field. I went to college and received my Associates in Business and planned to go into the bookkeeping field. Months after graduating, I got thrown into the role of coordinator the morning of my cousin’s wedding, and instantly knew it was something I needed to pursue. After my Associates in Business, I got 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 tough question. I would guess between $40,000-$50,000. I had a bride from Texas get married up here and they rented out a house on top of the cost of $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 really budget conscious bride, they don’t find the value in a Wedding Coordinator.

4. TFC—Let’s say I want to have a frugal wedding; about what would it cost, and where would I start for my DIY wedding?WO—There are a couple variants that will guide you to come up with a practical 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 which 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 that are willing to fill in the gaps for Professional Wedding Vendors? (DIY floral, Catering it yourself, Playing a Spotify playlist, etc.) Personally, I did my sister’s 150 person wedding for $8,000 two years ago. Including 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! Being in the wedding industry I had the resources to cut costs that all brides may not have (to keep in mind). Once you have an estimated wedding budget overall and have picked a venue, your next 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 an amazing deal. (If there’s one thing I wouldn’t budget on, it’s a wonderful photographer, since the photos are all you have left of this special 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 of.) 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, absolutely. 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 full DIY wedding, I highly recommend hiring out a wedding pro that will be there the day of to make it seamless. Prior to the wedding there are other things you can do to cut costs such as buying your own linens and ironing them, coming up with your own 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

5. TFC—Do you have a time-table-countdown-schedule you could share?

WO— Every timeline varies but here’s a basic timeline to work off of.

  1. 10:00 AM—Eastwood Events Arrives and setup begins

  2. 10:15 AM—Rental items arrive

  3. 11:00 AM—Floral arrives

  4. 1:00 PM—Photographer and videographer arrives

  5. 1:15 PM—Photographer detailed shots

  6. 1:30 PM—First look

  7. 2:00 PM–Caterer arrives

  8. 2:30 PM—Dessert arrives

  9. 3:00 PM—DJ arrives

  10. Ceremony

  11. 4:00 PM–Guests begin to arrive

  12. 4:15 PM—Guests to be seated

  13. 4:25 PM—Line up for processional

  14. 4:30 PM—Ceremony begins

  15. 5:00 PM—Recessional

  16. Cocktail Hour

  17. 5:05 PM—Cocktail hour begins

  18. 5:15 PM—Finish family photos, sign marriage license

  19. 5:45 PM—Guests to be seated for dinner

  20. Reception

  21. 5:50 PM—Grand entrance

  22. 6:00 PM—Dinner begins

  23. 6:20 PM—Guests grab a drink for toasts

  24. 6:40 PM—Toasts begin

  25. 7:00 PM—Cutting of the dessert

  26. 7:15 PM—First dance

  27. 7:20 PM—Father/daughter dance

  28. 7:25 PM—Mother/son dance

  29. 7:30 PM—Open dancing

  30. 9:30 PM—Last call for alcohol

  31. 9:45 PM—Grand exit

  32. 10:00 PM—Eastwood Events leaves

6. TFC–What are 8 ways you might have for paring down wedding costs? WO–Try these eight.

  1. Buy your own wedding linens, iron them, and then you can resell them in a FB wedding group after the event.

  2. Join as many local wedding buy/sell groups as you can. This group is made up of local brides selling anything and everything from their wedding that they used once, and you get the discount price.

  3. Make your own desserts, and buy your personal one tier cake to cut. Or buy sheet cakes for your guests. You’d be amazed how much money you can save by buying sheet cakes vs. a three tiered cake, and it’s more practical for cutting.

  4. The big trend I see right now is that brides are using a greenery garland as a centerpiece for all of the tables. This is a very easy DIY especially for us living in the Pacific Northwest.

  5. 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 Wedding gowns can be purchased here for less than half the price. Some gowns are previously worn and others are donated by boutiques. I especially like the meaning behind this company, for a portion of your proceeds goes to an ill bride’s wedding.

  6. Spotify your music playlist. Ive 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 are keeping an eye on the timeline and flow of the day, otherwise things will get off track.

  7. 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 cost!

  8. Go thorough a rental company for signage or any other little 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 is 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 important to still choose to love him or her. I also think the number one cause of disagreements is derived from selfishness and thinking of ourselves first, and if we are to 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 and Whitley Osterhout–guest writer

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.