I’m a small-town bride. Like, really small. Like, 1,200 people small. After living in this sweet, wheat farm, rural, wild turkeys in our yard, town of Waitsburg, Wash., for one year, I actually know 90 percent of everyone in this city. And it’s wonderful.
But, being in such a small, rural area, I knew it would be a challenge to find quality wedding vendors. Luckily, I live just 20 minutes from the bustling city of Walla Walla, Wash., which boasts 32,000 residents. Walla Walla has been my main go-to for finding vendors. Here’s a quick rundown of how I used both small-town folks and big-city vendors to check off my lists for services.
Venue: Small town! I went really local on this one and I’m thrilled I did! We booked a historic hotel 10 minutes from our home that cost us one-quarter of the big city venues. We snagged our venue for $2,000, which is much less than the $4,000 to $10,000 of the wineries and event venues in Walla Walla. Plus, our venue fee includes rooms to sleep 30 of our guests, we don’t have to use a certain caterer or meet a food and drink minimum. The lack of restrictions has helped our budget.
Photographer: Big City! Photography is mucho important. I wanted someone with a journalist’s eye to avoid all of the pose-y photos. I found Ali Walker in Walla Walla through a reference. She worked with my budget, and yes, she’s more expensive than the couple of Waitsburg photographers. However, I know our photos will be gorgeous and will be ones our kids and grandkids will enjoy.
Ceremony Musician: Small town! And best choice ever. Our ceremony musician was a steal at just $100. He will play piano for one hour before the ceremony, during the ceremony, and that $100 covers the rehearsal as well. How did we do this? We found a local high school student who is a naturally talented jazz pianist. We heard him play, not from music, just off the top of his head, and the kid is phenomenal. Plus, he’s a sweetheart and cute as a button.
DJ: Big City! Even though John Loney from Loney Tunes is from Walla Walla, he is fabulous budget-wise. And no, I don't think any DJs actually exist in Waitsburg…
Caterer: Big City! We really didn’t have much of a choice to do big city on this one. I don’t call myself an amazing cook – baker yes, cook no. Pot luck was not an option. Food was not something I wanted to worry about. The biggest challenge of finding a caterer was finding one who could provide our heavy appetizers and our dessert buffet. We found Olive in Walla Walla, where fiancé and I love to get lunch and dinner. They will be bringing the best mac and cheese we have ever eaten, a mashed potato bar and a dessert bar with cupcakes, brownies, blondies and petit fours. Plus, they handle the rental of all of the dishes and glassware.
Rentals: Big City! Waitsburg doesn’t have a rental company. So, all of the chairs, cocktail tables and linens are coming from Sandy’s U-Rent in Walla Walla.
Day-Of Wedding Coordinator: Small Town! Carrie Brennan from Without A Hitch Weddings + Events is actually the only independent wedding planner I could find in our area! It really came as a shock to me how hard it was to find someone. I knew I didn’t want to stress over all of the details on W-Day, I wanted to enjoy and relax. At a wedding show in October 2011, I walked into the event asking everyone “where is a wedding coordinator?” and there was Carrie at her table with her homemade pies in a jar. (I think Dear Fiancé Dane ate two of those pies.) I loved her immediately. I loved that she had experience, is a mom, and is sweet-as-can-be. Even better, she will swoop in two weeks before W-Day and take control. She’ll even run our rehearsal. This peace of mind is priceless. But, even so, Carrie comes in well under budget. And though she’s not from my small town, she is from another small town in the area, Touchet, Wash. Therefore, she fits into the small-town category!
Stationery: Big City! After looking for months online at invitation suites and found that nothing fit our vision, I found a local letterpress company that designed and printed all of our paper goods. The did our save the dates, envelopes, enclosure cards, coasters and napkins for much, much, much less money than the letterpress companies online. The husband-and-wife duo at Paleo Press in College Place, Wash., was a joy to work with.
Are there any other small-town brides out there? Could you find any wedding vendors in your area or did you have to go to the big city for some like I did?