Part 2: The Rest of the Reception—DJs-Décor-Music
There is more to a wedding reception than just the venue and the food and beverage. Regardless of where you get married you will spend money on wedding flowers, djs/bands, photography, and your wedding cake if it isn’t included in the catering package.
This week I read a blog, called “How to have a wedding for $5,000.” I won’t include that link as I thought it was pretty foolish. It is easy to brag about how inexpensive your wedding was when half of the services were donated by friends and you fed your guests from a food truck. [Don’t get me wrong I like food trucks, but it isn’t my idea of a wedding.] I will adhere to the philosophy that you get what you pay for—unless all your friends donating services are wedding professionals.
I reached out to a DJ this week and asked him to send me some bullet points on what separates the great DJs from the neophytes that are happy to do your wedding for $600. The best DJs:
- Know what to play and when. An experienced DJ has the ability to read the crowd and know when things need to be changed. Crucial decisions are made every 2 to 3 minutes – “Will this song work?” – He/she needs to be able to mix out of it quickly if it doesn’t.
- An experienced DJ is not thrown by last minute changes and recognizes that although a timeline is helpful, a wedding timeline is fluid and an experienced DJ is ready at a moment’s notice to switch things up.
- Confidence on the mic. A good DJ is comfortable addressing a crowd and has the ability to pronounce difficult names. Imagine paying someone who can’t pronounce your name.
- An experienced, professional DJ knows how to work as a team with the coordinator, catering staff, photographer, videographer and any other professionals. For example, a DJ should never announce a spotlight moment (cake cutting, parent dance, etc.) without first making sure the entire vendor team is ready to capture and/or participate.
- A professional will have a backup plan in place (paid on-call DJ, backup song library, backup gear) and should never shy away from answering that question immediately without hesitation.
- A professional will know where the spotlight belongs – on the wedding couple, NOT the DJ themselves. Guests, family and friends come to celebrate the married couple, NOT to come see the DJ.
- Experience with the venue – especially important with a unique space such as the Wadsworth Mansion. Does the DJ know what’s needed and does he/she own the appropriate equipment to properly provide sound/services in multiple indoor and outdoor spaces?
When selecting a DJ, the price is going to be based on how many hours their services are needed. Packages begin at 5 hours as that is the standard reception length. Adding music or microphones for the ceremony extends the time.
DJs also provide other services, such as interior and exterior lighting of the venue, specialty lighting for dancing, and fog machines.
For budgeting purposes, if you are planning on hiring a truly professional DJ, plan to spend between $2,000 -$2,700 for 6 hours of DJ services. If you add lighting expect to spend another $1,000.
I think one of the hardest part about flowers at a wedding is that not all flowers are created equal. Flowers aren’t sold by the pound, they are sold by the stem and some stems are more expensive than others. [Peonies, Ranunculus, Protea, Orchids, and Garden Roses are some of the more expensive flowers.] Using local seasonal flowers don’t necessarily make arrangements less expensive unless the florist has access to flowers in someone’s yard, and then they most likely would not be able to provide the amount of flowers needed.
The second hardest part about budgeting for flowers is knowing what you need. The more attendants at your wedding the more bouquets and boutonnières you will need. The more guests that you have, the more centerpieces that are required. Don’t forget parents, grandparents, the flower girl or ring bearer. That is just for starters, how about: arches, chair arrangements/bows, mantles, garlands, cake florals, bathrooms, bars, console tables/altar. It is enough to make you put your head in a spin.
Do tell the florist your color palette for the wedding. Do tell the florist what flowers you like. It is great to hand your florist a picture you found on Pinterest as an example of your style or color palette, but if you ask the florist to duplicate it you may be shocked at the price. The arrangement could have been created for a photo shoot where the budget is limitless—and isn’t expected to be duplicated 15 times! Do give the florist some latitude when purchasing flowers. The blush roses may not look that fresh when the florist is at the market and on the other hand, there may be something stunning that will make your bouquets a knockout. In most cases, your experienced floral decorator will be able to guide you to the best look to fit your budget.
I have included a table of pricing from two florists on our list.
|Floral Piece||Florist 1||Florist 2|
For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit: Here
Yes, you can go to Stop and Shop (a local supermarket) for wedding flowers, however they are not generally full service, which means you have to pick up & set up and who has time for that on the most important day of your life!? I tried to get pricing, but couldn’t get through to them. [That may say it all.] You’ll get what you pay for as a talented florist has a great sense of color and design and will make your wedding truly elegant.
If you have 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen, 15 tables, 1 bride who loves flowers, 4 parents and two grandmothers, an arch, and two decorated mantles you can expect to spend around $4,000.
For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit: Here
Like DJs, photographers are selling time and talent. The price for wedding photography depends on multiple elements:
- The number of photographers covering your event—one or two.
- How many hours the photographer(s) will be covering your event: Is it from the time you start getting dressed in the morning until the party is swinging on the dance floor or some shorter timeframe?
- How the photos are being edited. Is the photographer editing the photos or are they being sent out?
- What the photographer provides after the event: Is it a flash drive, one album, or ala carte services?
- The creativity and technical expertise of the photographer.
Items one and two are easily quantifiable, not so much with items three, four, and five.
Talent is the most important differentiator between photographers. In the last fifteen years with the rise of digital cameras and software to edit pictures, the number of wedding photographers grew tremendously. Almost anyone could become a part time wedding photographer. The industry went into a tizzy. Talented photographers were being undercut by the novices and there wasn’t much they could do without sounding resentful. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really talented newcomers entering the field that offer lower pricing to build a business. We have all done that. What I saw, was a lot of not so talented or experienced people who don’t understand lighting and composition taking some bad pictures. By the way, there are no do overs over your wedding photos.
The good news, is that it is so easy to view a photographer’s work. They all have websites with lots of pictures. Check out their social media platforms. Ask to see an album.
To understand the value of the proposal consider:
- Is an engagement session included? An engagement session is not just about capturing your engagement. It offers the photographer the opportunity to develop a relationship with you. The more comfortable you are with the photographer on the day of your wedding the more natural you will look in your photos.
- There is a big difference in quality between the companies producing your albums.
- Ask about the experience and training of the photographer. Ask about the experience of the second shooter. How many years have they been in the industry? What is their training and prior work experience?
- Ask yourself, is this photographer going to enhance your day, or just take pictures? A great photographer, because their ‘eye’ is omniscient, can assist in making the day run smoothly. They can see things before they happen. They calm nerves. They assist the other vendors.
- Lastly, is the photographer easy to be around? After all, it is easier to smile at the camera if you like the person behind the lens.
This link will take you to an article about selecting photographers. https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-photography-getting-started
For budgeting purposes you can obtain two photographers for six hours for about $4,300. The range for a more experienced photographer with tremendous talent and breadth in their portfolio is $5,000-$7,000.
Part 3: The Rest of Your Day
If you think your budgeting is complete, don’t forget that before you walk down the aisle you will have sent out invitations, obtained your marriage license [$50.] You will have purchased wedding rings, gifts for your attendants and a gift for your beloved. You will have had your hair done and make up professionally applied. [$350]. Of course let’s not forget your favorite purchases: your wedding, dress, wedding shoes, jewelry, and veil/tiara. [I am not even going there!] Don’t forget the groom if you are sharing this budget!
Embellishing your wedding will be a guest book, place cards, toasting flutes, cake cutting service. You may have opted for:
- Horse Drawn Carriage Entrance $1,000
- Live ceremony/cocktail musicians $550 for two [May have a deduct from the DJ]
- Photobooth $800-$1,000
- Fireworks $3,500-$5,000
- Tent $4,000 [Includes liner and sides]
The Knot recently provided an informative graphic as a visual for the cost of weddings across North America. You can check out the full article here.
I hope this post has helped. It is only met to be a guideline for creating a budget. I am sure that there are vendor professionals who may cost less than I indicated. I always tell brides and grooms to focus on the things that are the most important to them. The most important aspect about hosting a wedding is not about how much money is spent, but how the love that is shared between two people is conveyed to their families and friends. Have fun planning and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!