I suggest that you plan your budget before you start writing checks. I know at times it will seem overwhelming, but it is important to try and keep the big picture in mind. While a budget could range from $500 to $20,000 and on up, the range for this area seems to fall somewhere between $4,000 and $7,000.
ENTERTAINMENT AS PROTECTION ON YOUR INVESTMENT
Using round numbers - if your budget is $6000 and you spend $600 on a DJ, you are only spending 10% of your budget on someone with whom you are entrusting 75% of your whole reception.
Also, consider what your other expenditures are in relation to what you are getting. How much are your vegetables or finger foods? How much is your dress (which will be worn only a few times)? How much are your pictures and/or videography?
The entertainment you choose is key to the success of your reception because it makes up such a large portion. Honestly, if your entertainment is bad, your group won't stay. How terrible would it be if the majority of your group left after the cake and the first few dances?
Also, entertainment impacts other portions. Your entertainment will create the picture for your photographer. Your entertainer will manage the lighting if you have video. The entertainment will help keep your guests there long enough to have a group for the bouquet and the exit.
You understand what I mean… just be sure to make it a priority and allocate enough of your budget to be able to hire someone you will be happy with.
Try to get as much sleep as possible in the week prior to your wedding, but especially the night before. At your rehearsal dinner drink plenty of water, try to avoid salt, and limit alcohol consumption. This will help to maximize your wedding photos by reducing puffiness and dark circles around the eyes.
Throughout the month preceding your wedding, try to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals and drink extra amounts of water. In addition to feeling better and having more energy, your hair, skin and nails will look their best.
Also, if you plan to tan, don't wait until the last minute. Start the process at least three weeks in advance to ensure a complete and even color.
Consider pampering yourself on the week of your wedding with a massage, facial, pedicure, and/or manicure. These activities, especially the massage, will help you to feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Meet with a professional hair stylist three to four months before your wedding to discuss how you will want your hair styled. It is best to bring your veil, so you can see exactly what will look best. If you have an idea or picture, be sure to bring it to assist the stylist. If your plan includes cutting, perming, and/or new color, it is best to do a trial run in advance to ensure you will be happy with the outcome and to eliminate last minute surprises.
To look your best at the wedding, avoid overexposure to the sun the week prior. Also avoid alcohol until the reception. Many times the bride is tempted to celebrate with attendants with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa the morning of the ceremony. This will cause your skin to flush and redden and may cause your make-up to fade much faster.
Invitations and Accessories
Your wedding invitation will be the first item your guests will see about your wedding. It gives your guests an idea of how formal and what type of event to expect.
If you expect out of town guests, be sure to include lodging ideas on the invitations.
Your invitations may be printed or engraved. They should be put in the mail at least four to six weeks before the wedding date. For the more informal events, they can be mailed out eight to ten days prior.
When you order your invitations, you should consider ordering 25 more than you think you will need. It is much cheaper to order more on the first go around than to have to order a small amount afterwards to fill in. Also, order some extra envelopes to correct mistakes.
Invitations should be handwritten in blue or black ink. Both envelopes should be in the same color ink and in the same handwriting. You may want to consider calligraphy. It creates a very elegant look for the invitations and finding someone to do the job may be as easy as asking at the store in which you purchased the invitations or looking in the yellow pages.
Children's names should be listed on the second line on the inside envelope. Never use "and Family" on the envelope. The general accepted rule is: if children are not listed, they are not invited. Also, generally, any children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation.
When discussing floral arrangement with your florist, consider the style and mood you are attempting to create, the season and availability, your personal tastes, and your budget.
Before having this discussion you should have already selected your gown, the bridesmaids' dresses, and the overall color theme of the event. It would also be helpful to have fabric swatches and textures of your selected gowns and the attire of the men. The florist should then be able to recommend flower combinations and artistic treatments to create beautiful floral compliments for both your wedding ceremony and reception.
It is a good idea to ask the florist for an itemized bill in advance to avoid last minute issues. Unless they are to be picked up, you should also supply your florist with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and times for delivery of your bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages and floral arrangements.
Other floral pieces that you will need to consider are the displays for the altar, centerpieces for the reception tables, sprays for candelabras, sprays to accent the cake, corsages for those who are assisting with various duties at the reception and floral token gifts for special guests in attendance.
If you are planning to preserve any of your floral items as keepsakes, you may want to contact someone who specializes in this in the weeks prior to the event. There may be special instructions to maximize the preservation.
There are many forms of entertainment to be considered, but the most common seem to be a DJ, band, or soloist. Be sure to ask lots of questions such as years of experience, references, type of equipment, etc. (See the sample list of questions on the home page.) Prices will range greatly depending on the type of entertainment chosen. Select according to your budget, but keep in mind that, in many cases, your entertainment will make or break the evening. Much of the success of your event will be contingent on the quality of your entertainment, so choose wisely.
Soloists seem to work best at the ceremony. Be it a harpist, pianist or singer; they add a nice, subtle touch to the event without getting too costly.
For the wedding reception, the most popular choices seem to be a DJ or a band. While both have specific advantages, DJs, due to their versatility, seem to be the best value overall.
Bands can offer a special appeal because they are a live show. Also, some bands will have a large following or big name in your area. The fact that they performed specially for your reception make it all the more memorable. Typically a band's price will range from $600 to $1500 and on up, depending on the number of members and their experience. A band will usually play two to four sets (+/- 45 minutes each) with breaks in between (10 minutes or so).
DJs will provide a host to run the event, music, lights, and special effects to enhance the special moments. A DJ's best asset is versatility. Not only can they make abrupt changes in era, periods, and speed of the songs, but if they have a large library, they should be able to accommodate any and all tastes in attendance. A DJ's level of experience should enable him to provide valuable insights as well as shoulder much of the stress by actually running the event for you. Some DJs will even offer a reception planner to further eliminate omissions and to insure that your day develops in the order that you desire.
How Much To Spend On Your DJ
OK, so let's assume you have done your homework and decided you want a DJ. There are prices all over the board, how do you know how much green to lay out?
Overall, the old saying, "You get what you pay for," seems to ring true. I am not your cheapest option, but overall, many people (especially from past shows) would tell you that I am your best value. I can't stress enough that you are getting so much more than music: years experience and insight, a planner, an entertainer and host, a public speaker, a dancer (when necessary), the best sound system money can buy, a wireless microphone, lights, special effects, over 2200 compact discs worth of music, professionalism and dependability.
Get to know your DJ
I would encourage you to interact (through calls, emails and or texts) with your entertainer (not just the company representative).
Ask who your specific entertainer will be make sure that is who you talk and plan with.
As the owner and only DJ of Music in Motion, I, Sean Hearn, personally play every show for which Music in Motion is hired to play.
Some Mobile DJ companies will have multiple shows sent out on the same night and boast many years experience. While their owner or main DJ may have the experience promised, the other employees may have far less. If they send out 4 shows in a night, your chances of actually getting the amount of experience that they insinuate is 25% or less.
It is important that you get to know your DJ for several reasons. It is important that the show will be run the way you see fit, and your chances are far greater if you are planning and discussing things with the DJ who will actually be there on your night. Also, chemistry is important. Age and personality will play a large role in how the entertainer performs. Meeting your host will give you an opportunity to see if you and he/she are compatible. After-all, you are trying to find YOUR ENTERTAINER not pay a company and let them choose them.
Business or Hobby?
I only perform 50 to 60 shows per year which is about one show (on average ) per weekend. Actually, I probably turn away more than I accept. Strictly from a business and profitability standpoint this would not be a wise decision, but money is NOT my main motivation!
There is an art to what I do, and I love to perform. Limiting my shows is deliberate!
In some cases, the desired presentation is just not for me. You will find when you call me to ask questions and interview me, that I am doing the same to you. I provide a specialized service - some may not be able to afford the type of quality show that I perform and in some cases our personalities and/or perspectives may clash.
Not only is the performance a reflection on you and your family or company; it is also a reflection on me and the reputation, I have spend 20+ years building.
Ultimately, I want the new couple to leave the reception glad they hired me and having had a wonderful time. Limiting the number of performances really shows when the curtain goes up! I think too often performers become so engrossed in making money that they lose the edge that made them so good to begin with.
Select the style and brand of tuxedo that will best compliment the wedding theme, time of day, and bridesmaids' attire.
If you have out of town men in your wedding, they can be measured and fitted at a tuxedo shop in their area. Be sure they know the brand name and style number of the specific tuxedo that they will be wearing. The measurements can then be sent to the tuxedo shop you have chosen to be ordered.
When renting a tuxedo, you will receive the jacket, pants, shirt, tie, and vest or cummerbund for one package price. Shoes can be rented for an extra fee. Typically, the vest and tie colors are chosen to coordinate with the theme and color scheme.
Be sure to inquire at the tuxedo shop about their specials or discounts. Many, with a little coaxing, will offer the groom's attire for free with six paid rentals or other similar discounts.
Photography and Videography
When interviewing photographers, ask what percentage of his/her business is in wedding photography. It takes a certain personality and talent to take wedding pictures. If you are considering a large studio, there may be several photographers. Make sure to preview the work of the specific photographer who will be working your wedding.
Make sure you are comfortable with and like the photographer you choose. If you don't like the photographer, it will show in your pictures.
Be sure to understand the type of package you are purchasing:
Is your photography limited to a specific number of rolls or is it based on an amount of time? Some of the best pictures develop as fun, impromptu photos at the reception during the dancing and mingling.
Will your photographer stay for the entire night, or just through the formalities? Don't use up all of your time in the pre-wedding portions and then be rushed at the reception to get in the formal events like toasts, cake, and special dances.
Be sure to check with the ceremony and reception sites to see if they impose any restrictions in regards to your photography and/or videography. If you are told of any, be sure to pass them along to prevent issues arising on the day of the event.
When interviewing videographers, ask to see a demo tape. Look for clarity, steadiness, and smooth transitions while covering the event. Take notice or ask if the camera will pick up important sounds like singing, the vows, or the music during the dancing.
Make sure to ask whether you are purchasing an edited or unedited tape. If you envision your tape looking like something on TV, you may want to include childhood pictures, titles and captions, music, and other special effects. Edited tapes are more expensive, but provide a much more polished, professional looking tape due to the time and talents of your videographer.
Between two and six months before the wedding, you and your groom will want to register for wedding gifts. Never again in your life will you receive so many gifts.
Use this opportunity to create your ultimate wish list. These days you can register for everything from china, crystal, cookware, and linens to gas grills, computers, sporting goods, luggage, gardening tools, etc. There are even travel agents that can register your honeymoon, allowing your guests to contribute to the costs. Some mortgage companies offer a bridal registry allowing your guests to contribute to the down payment of your first home. By registering, you make the gift shopping and giving experience easier for your guests and you will end up receiving things that you actually want and need.
Before visiting the store to register, spend some time with your fiancé browsing through bridal and home magazines to agree on your preferences. Consider your lifestyle and likes and dislikes. You will both have to be flexible and willing to compromise. Maybe the bathroom is done your way and the den his way.
Always schedule an appointment with the bridal registry consultant. He/she will be able to guide you through the registering process. The consultant will probably ask how many guests are invited in order to tailor your list to the approximate number of guests.
You can register at as many stores as you like, but beware of overlapping the same items at multiple locations unless you want to receive the same items.
Never print your registry location on the invitations. It is acceptable to have your shower hostess enclose printed registry cards in the shower invitations only. Your attendants, friends and family can spread the word about where you have registered.
Be sure to inquire how long the registry will remain in the computer (at least 12 months is typical). It is not uncommon to receive wedding gifts as much as a year after the event. Many couples also find that friends and family will use the list for birthday, Christmas, Hanukah, and anniversary gifts.
Keep accurate gift records and send personalized thank you notes promptly!
A stretch limousine is typically used for the wedding transportation because of its elegance and class. However, you may wish to consider other, unique modes including a horse-drawn carriage, a vintage car, a motorcycle, a helicopter, or a hot air balloon. Be creative when choosing; this is a once in a lifetime experience.
Most means of transportation will require reservations that should be arranged at least two months in advance. Be sure to get a signed contract. Your agreement should detail time allowance, number of riders, date, etc.
If you have a large number of out of town guests who are not familiar with the city, you might want to consider reserving a minibus or van to transfer them from point to point especially if you plan on alcohol at the reception.
The rehearsal dinner is typically held after the ceremony rehearsal, but this is not set in stone. It can be held directly before or even on an entirely different day.
You can choose an elegant formal setting at a restaurant or country club, a theme dinner that suits your personality, or even an informal meal at a home. The main purpose is to get the two newly-merged families together in a relaxing setting to bond and get to know each other better.
Either at the beginning or during the meal, take the time to introduce each of the family members attending.
A good procedure is to have the bride introduce her side and the groom introduce his side. You can add personal comments about each member to personalize the introduction and aid in the conversation.
This is also a great time to say thank you to your parents, attendants, anyone giving special assistance, or anyone who made an unusually long journey to be there. This is also a good time to give the attendants their gifts.
Gone are the days of the simple white wedding cake. Today there are many choices of flavors, fillings, and icings. When you meet with your baker, be sure to ask to see pictures of his or her creations. Sometimes there are even free samples to taste test.
Cake toppers can be traditional or imaginative and may include fresh cut flowers. Consider a topper that will reflect your tastes, interests, or occupations. You might even consider using a topper that was used on a parent's or grandparent's cake in a previous ceremony.
At the reception, spotlight the wedding cake by giving it a covered table by itself highlighted with greens and flowers.
To save money at larger receptions, some brides are choosing smaller wedding cakes and supplementing them with similar sheet cakes. In most cases the guests are none the wiser and enjoy the cake just as well.
The place that you choose for the ceremony can be as unique as the two of you. It may be a church, cathedral, chapel or temple. Other choices may include a hall, country club, hotel, restaurant, garden, home, countryside, etc.
The ceremony site should have some special significance for you both. Whichever venue you choose, be sure that it can accommodate the number of guests you intend to invite.
Should you choose an outdoor location, be sure to set up a contingency plan in case of bad weather.
When choosing a date, be sure to consider usual weather conditions, family commitments, and local special events and celebrations.
If you will be married by a member of the clergy, be sure to contact him or her early to discuss how your own special wishes can be incorporated. This is a special moment; the more time you take with personalizing it, the more it will mean to you both.
Be sure to ask about the wedding policies of the facility you will use: many churches or other sites where weddings regularly occur may provide you with a wedding pricing and procedure booklet. If there are restrictions in regard to decorations, music, fog machines, photography, or videography, be sure to let your vendors know.
When choosing your reception hall, be sure that the facility is large enough to accommodate all of the guests that you intend to invite.
If you will have dancing, is there a dance floor? Do the lights dim to enhance the lighting and special effects of you entertainment?
Iron out every point and make sure to get it in writing. Will the reception hall provide tables, chairs, linens, table skirting, a microphone, napkins, ice, etc.
The menu for your reception can be as simple as cake and punch or as elaborate as a formal dinner. You also have the choice of offering hors d'oeuvres, buffet, or a sit down meal.
Some of your guests may be health conscious, so consider some fresh vegetables and low fat selections in addition to the richer fare. Choosing in season selections will be easier on your budget.
All options depend on the formality, time of day, and your budget. You may consider some of the following options: an ice sculpture, a balloon arch, candy favors for your guests, table mementos, etc. Here are some creative ideas for the reception.
While you may plan some of your own vacations, in this case you are better off going through a travel agent.
A travel agent should be able to provide the best information on the newest facilities and the best package deals available.
Furthermore, you will be under enough stress with everything else, the few dollars that you might save aren't worth the added stress and issues to deal with.
You may even consider using a travel professional that offers a registry. This way your guests may decide to make gift donations toward your travel.
Determine your budget and the length of time that you will spend.
Consider the climate and activities when determining your location.
Don't over schedule activities. Make sure you allot plenty of time for just relaxing together.
If you will need passports and visas, be sure to request these four to six weeks in advance. Also, the bride must obtain hers in her maiden name. Be sure that hotel reservations and airline tickets are also in the bride's maiden name to match the passport and visas.
The most important thing is that you get away for at least a few days! The time that you spend together is far more important than how much money you spend or where you go.