Home & Garden: Frugal Fairy Tales

Written by Louise Tucker Jones in the October 2009 Issue

Keri Yanchick’s enthusiasm is contagious as she spills out one creative idea after another on how to have a beautiful wedding on a limited budget. Founder of Frugal Fairy Tales, a website that has averaged 75 new members a month in the short time it has been in operation, Keri shares tips and do-it-yourself videos on the web and even offers a way for brides to barter time and services with each other.

Having worked as a wedding decorator, Keri often met brides who felt they could not have the wedding of their dreams on their budget.  “When you hear statistics on TV spout $22,000 as a limited budget, what does the woman with $10,000 or less think?” asks Keri, who did nearly everything for her own wedding, clear down to cutting the meat for the buffet at 5:00am on her wedding day with her hair in curlers.  “I don’t expect most brides to do what I did,” she says, “but there are a lot of simple, do-it-yourself (DIY) things that can be done well in advance and save lots of money.” 

Before partnering with Rena Mason to start Frugal Fairy Tales, Keri had finally become a stay-at-home mom to her three kids, something she had dreamed of during the years she worked full-time to put her husband, David through pharmacy school. However, she still enjoyed being creative and hoped to find a balance between home and workplace. It was at church where she met Rena and they connected. “I told her how I wanted to start my own business, maybe do a website and she took me seriously,” says Keri.

Rena, the mother of two grown daughters, had recently lost her job and saw great opportunities in Keri’s vision. “My husband, Michael and I both felt it was a God thing,” says Rena. “Keri has so many creative ideas and the bartering idea reminded me of how things were done when I was young with friends automatically helping each other.  I love helping people and I think it is important to help others, especially in these difficult times.”

The two entrepreneurs immediately began shooting videos for the website, ranging from simple decorating tips to how to fix a luncheon buffet. A professional chef and hair stylist are already scheduled for videos along with Rena’s daughter, Sherry Dawn, who shows how to make a pearl necklace at a low cost. “I want the bride to have what she wants on her wedding day, not what she thinks she can afford,” says Keri who shares the following tips:

• Find as many DIY projects as possible. Enlist the help of family and friends. This will leave a budget for professionals in other areas. 

• Keep an open mind when choosing venues.  Adding your own décor to a large hall that allows for more guests is cheaper than renting a small, elegant space.

• Get creative—don’t get discouraged.  If you had your heart set on serving champagne but can’t afford it, serve champagne punch. Guests will love it. (Recipe on the website.)

One of the main things Frugal Fairy Tales does is to help brides think outside the box. “There is always an alternative,” says Keri, who hopes the website will become the ultimate site for brides, even those who don’t have a budget.  “They can always learn or share something.”

And though bartering is a new idea for some, it is becoming very popular and is mainly used on the wedding day–setting set up a buffet, helping with flowers, decorating, music, or even putting together a scrapbook. Keri and Rena caution ladies to be sensible when contacting someone from a website. Always be safe and have a family member present when others are helping.

There are some new things in the future for Frugal Fairy Tales and both women hope it will become a site for every woman’s entertainment needs–baby showers, anniversaries, sweet sixteen parties and more. They also hope to shoot video soon for “Pixiedust Parties,” where moms can find easy, inexpensive and fun ideas for kids’ birthday parties.
Another new feature destined to become a huge hit is the “48 hours and $100” with suggestions on ways to put an event together quickly and spend $100 or less.  Keri first did this for a tearfully grateful bride and is excited to offer suggestions on the website.   A blog is also in the making where Rena will offer words of inspiration to stressed-out brides-to-be, as well as their families and friends.

Both women say their families are very supportive of their endeavors. In fact, Keri found her five-year-old daughter imi-tating Mommy by wrapping a piece of foil into something creative while proclaiming to her make believe audience, “Whatever your budget allows.” 

To contact Keri and Rena, visit www.frugalfairytales.com. You can also follow Frugal Fairy Tales on Facebook and Twitter.

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