How Much Should You Spend on Entertainment for Your Wedding Reception?


The costs associated with planning and organising a wedding is a cause for major concern for most couples, as well they should be. Many factors go into the equation of organising a wedding, including everything from the reception location, food, bridal attire, wedding cake, photographer, and of course, entertainment. For many couples, the total combined costs can be staggering. Unfortunately however, it is a fact that one of the last things the majority of couples organise is their wedding reception entertainment, only to then realise that the greater part of the wedding budget has already been spent and leaving very little funds for quality entertainment. Deciding on exactly how much to spend on each of these and the other many elements that individually come together to create your wedding reception is a fine balancing act between needs, wants and external influences. This has the potential to cause a significant amount of undue stress and create many unnecessary problems and tensions – all at a time when the couple should be enjoying organising the celebration of one of the happiest days of their lives.

Obviously, all expenses relating to a wedding reception can be reduced. The problem encountered by most couples however is deciding which ones can be and why? That is, which components can be either reduced or eliminated that adds little or no value to the wedding reception in terms of enjoyment and memories.

The cost of the location of your wedding reception can range from free through to many thousands of dollars. Couples will need to carefully think this through and balance this aspect out because saving money by having it outdoors on a friend’s property could also potentially mean that guests will leave early due to bad weather and/or unfavourable temperature. You certainly don’t want your guests leaving early, would you? On the other hand you may select a location that has absolutely fantastic views which will help enhance the atmosphere, for which you will most certainly be charged a hefty premium compared to a comparable venue with no views. However if your reception is scheduled be held in the evening or in the colder months, will you or your guests have the opportunity to enjoy this view?

If you were to serve your guests fast food, you will probably never hear the end of it, but if you provide truffles and lobster, how many will remember? Quite a few, if for no other reason than these menu items are out of the ordinary. However, if like the majority of couples, you choose to serve chicken, beef /lamb or fish, which are the standard wedding reception fare, how many people will remember what they ate 6 months later?

If you buy the fanciest designer wedding dress and the very best suits, you will look FABULOUS in all your wedding photos, but many couples rent not only the suits, but also the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses! It saves a significant amount of money and, if we are totally honest, it is highly unlikely that you will ever wear that gown again.

When it comes to photographers, you should allow a sufficient portion of your budget on getting one of the best! After all, the photos will last a lifetime. If you do not engage a great photographer, you are not going to get great photographs. So you do not really want to skimp too much there. The wedding album is something you will keep out on your coffee table for a long time and guests from your wedding will want to see those photographs of you and them.

As far as videographers are concerned, most couples watch their wedding video an average of 5-10 times with family and friends, so this can be a very expensive cost for only 5-10 viewings.

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the entertainment. As mentioned earlier, it is most often one of the very last components of a wedding reception thought about and to many it is the service where couples try to find or negotiate a bargain, often because they have overspent on other less important aspects of the wedding reception. There is just one problem with this action: Up to 80% of the success of your event will depend on the entertainment!

Now if you honestly consider and evaluate this last statement, you will find that it is not just some statistic created by entertainers in order to generate more business and is in actual fact very close to the mark. Think about it. Should you not provide any entertainment whatsoever, you will probably find that the majority of your guests will depart soon after the meal has been consumed. Conversely, if you provided no meal, but still had entertainment, the majority of your guests would most likely stay. So you really need both these elements, but in what kind of balance? Can your guests be happy with canapés, savoury snacks and/or finger food? Actually most can! The majority of your guests will be satisfied and happy with just about any meal and will not be very concerned with what is actually served as long as it is both flavoursome and filling.

It is very important to keep in mind that the purpose of having a reception is for you and your invited guests to CELEBRATE your marriage, to participate in the celebration and share in the extreme happiness of your special day. This is where entertainment plays a very significant part in that it provides both you and your guests with the ingredient and catalyst for a happy, joyous and fun time!

As you can now more readily appreciate, or may have even experienced first hand, that with good entertainment – you can turn basic food that could potentially be a bad meal into a real FUN time!

So the question that needs to be asked is: Why do so many couples want to spend such a small portion of their wedding budget on entertainment? After all, it is the factor that will ultimately make or break your reception, agree? Couples often think nothing of spending $50 – $100 plus per person for food, but then wish to “price shop” for bargain entertainment, and spending less than 5% of the total reception cost.

You would think then that it would be prudent to spend 10-20% of the total reception cost on the wedding entertainment, when it is the one component of the reception that occupies up to 80% or more of the time and more importantly, the ultimate SUCCESS of the event. Quite logically, it makes perfect sense to do so, yet so many couples fail to understand and come to grips with this concept, only to be left disappointed. This may result in their wedding reception lingering in their memories for a long time, but for all the wrong reasons.

Now that you know what percentage of your total wedding reception budget should be spent on entertainment, the next step is deciding what form of wedding entertainment to select. Wedding reception entertainment usually comes in two main forms: Live musicians/bands or Disc Jockey. Others forms may involve comedians, cabaret acts, magicians, etc.

Of the two main forms: Which should you choose and which is right for your reception? Well this will largely depend on your personal preferences, whether you prefer the live feel and spontaneous improvisations of musicians/band or the sound of the original artists being reproduced by a professional disc jockey. There are obviously some pros and cons to either of these entertainment options; however it is not the intent of this article to address these issues.

When deciding on either one of these options – please keep in mind that there are both good and bad musicians/bands and disc jockeys, some which abide by strict professional ethics and others that do not. I am sure you are probably aware of somebody who has had a bad experience due to engaging a terrible Band or Disc Jockey. Obviously nobody wants bad entertainment at their wedding, or any event for that matter. As I am a Disc Jockey and most couples these days will choose a DJ for their wedding reception, the remainder of this article will only specifically focus on how a Professional DJ can make or break your wedding reception and how much of your total reception budget you should spend on one, however a lot of the elements mentioned may also apply to live musicians.

The reason most couples select a Disc Jockey is somewhat logical of course – considering that a professional wedding DJ will act as MC, coordinate everything with the photographer, videographer and reception venue staff, guide the couple, family, and friends through the course of the reception ensuring everything flows, and of utmost importance, play the music you want to hear.

You will find that disc jockey services are available in a broad price range. This pricing has the potential to be highly subjective and as such, does not always accurately represent the disc jockey’s ability and service offered. It must be stressed, that it is vitally important that you look beyond any sales pitch and pricing in order to adequately evaluate which particular DJ service is best suited for your wedding reception. Once you have done this, you should be able to make an excellent selection at most price points, and can be just as equally disappointed. Avoid being coerced into paying more than you have too, but by the same token, don’t pay less than you yourself feel would be appropriate to secure the services of a professional that will ensure the success of your reception. Saving money is no compensation if the DJ is inexperienced, not adequately equipped to handle your wedding reception or does not listen to your requirements and offer suggestions on how to make it all happen. Similarly, spending an excessive amount for your DJ will not automatically ensure the success of your reception. Use the percentages outlined above as a guide to determine an appropriate amount to spend on your Wedding DJ entertainment.

When the time finally comes for the couple to find a DJ for their wedding reception, the most common first question is, “How much do you charge?” As stated earlier, most couples having spent most of their wedding budget by this stage, may be inclined to ask or conclude, “aren’t all DJ’s the same, shouldn’t I just choose the cheapest one?” as a means of containing the wedding expenses. Unfortunately all DJ’s are not the same and pricing will generally reflect inclusions, experience, additional services offered and the total time spent on planning and performing at your reception.

Wedding DJ’s will usually have a five-hour minimum performance time period with prices ranging from around $300 through to around $5,000 for this performance time period. Pricing can also be impacted by such factors as additional hours, a large number of guests requiring additional sound reinforcement equipment, travel and/or accommodation to locales outside the DJ’s service area, etc.

Any price you are quoted should be carefully considered – you should take into account all the information provided by the DJ and your own personal feelings as to the ability of the DJ to meet your expectations. It is important to point out that, when searching for a DJ; you will mostly be dealing with a group of very small companies and/or individuals that are in the business of providing personal services. After speaking with, discussing your requirements and asking lots of questions, engage the disc jockey you feel can be trusted to have your best interests at heart and deliver the results you want – the success of your wedding reception may very well depend on it.

Taking a little time to ensuring you have hired a good wedding DJ can, as discussed earlier, make or break your wedding reception and many a married couple can attest to this. Becoming a good wedding DJ requires a great many hours of on the job training, many years of wedding reception experience and continued professional development so that they know how to handle any situation that may potentially arise. The DJ must also know correct wedding etiquette, know how to read a crowd, and say or do the right thing at the right time.

As mentioned, a professional wedding DJ is a service provider. One common mistake many couples make is to treat the wedding DJ as a product and not a service. Like any service provider, you often will only get what you pay for. You should be hiring the DJ based on experience, professionalism and skill. Consider the importance of this service to the success of the wedding reception in comparison to other items that may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more. Then it becomes a little clearer that expenditure priorities may have to be re-considered.

So when trying to decide how much you can afford for entertainment, think about how much you can LOSE if your entertainment is poor or mediocre. Look for professionals and pay them what they are worth. After all, if you want the best, it will (and should) cost more, in the long run, they will provide so much more than a mediocre entertainer would.

When organising a wedding reception, keep the points outlined above in mind, have a wonderful time and most important of all, enjoy the entertainment.

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Things You Should Know Before Selecting A Disc Jockey For Your Wedding


Selecting the right disc jockey for your wedding reception is one of the most important decisions that you can make and can be a very bewildering and daunting task. Everything else can be perfect, but if the music is not great, the reception will not be the success it deserves to be. Selecting the right Disc Jockey can be confusing. So how do you pick the right Disc Jockey? The intention of this article is to provide you with enough information so that you will be able to select the perfect disc jockey that will make your wedding a success.

There are many avenues that you can take in your search for that perfect DJ. The Yellow Pages lists many disc jockeys, friends, relatives or function venues may recommend someone that they have seen or used previously. They will all promise that they will do a fantastic job for you – and some will do just that. It is important to know however, that there are many different types of disc jockeys;

Disc Jockey Agencies / Multi System Disc Jockeys:
Give the impression of being the leaders of the industry by use of high profile advertising. They have many disc jockeys on their books with equipment predominantly owned by the agency. These agencies also at times sub-contract work to other disc jockeys.

Using Disc Jockey agencies and Multi System Disc Jockeys can be a bit of a lottery in that there is very little training or quality control. They may have some very good DJ’s working for them; however there is the potential for a large variation from DJ to DJ. Some might not even see their DJ staff for weeks or months at a time as staff are often allowed to keep very basic style equipment in their own homes. Further, while some firms supply some CD’s to their staff, the music is largely supplied by the DJ’s themselves from their home CD collections.

These DJ’s have little or no experience and are generally paid poorly (as low as 25% of the fee) and find it hard to afford to maintain and expand their music collection. Some, in an effort to cut costs, will even resort to illegally copying music onto tape, compact disc or mini disc. This being the case, they find it hard to keep motivated and interested enough to deliver a superior level of service and entertainment, often only lasting 2 to 3 years before becoming disillusioned, realising that it is hard work, expensive and that they are actually losing money.

Disc Jockey Agencies and Multi System Disc Jockeys have also been known to forward a list of songs to the clients so that the client may select the music they want. However, due to the reasons mentioned above, this can bear little resemblance to the range of music the DJ will actually have at the function, potentially leaving you at the mercy of the DJ’s own personal tastes.

You should also ask yourself, that even though you may speak and deal with the owner of the Disc Jockey Agency or Multi System service, how much personal attention can you expect from an owner who has ten or more functions going at one time.

Overall, Disc Jockey Agencies and Multi System Disc Jockeys concentrate on domestic functions and appear to be more interested in putting as many DJ’s as they can on the road, rather than striving to provide the best possible service to the client.

In House Disc Jockeys:
Some function venues genuinely recommend various Disc Jockeys that they have seen perform and know to be reliable to clients, or even organise a DJ on the client’s behalf as an added service. This is because they realise how important a good DJs’ contribution can be to the success of the function. Conversely, they know that no matter how good their catering may be, a bad DJ can leave the client with an overall negative impression of the evening.

If your function is at a five star Hotel or reputable function centre, you may wish to call the preferred disc jockey that they recommend. You should take some comfort in the fact that their reputation is at risk also. Beware of secondary function venues that might not be as scrupulous. It is always important however to use discretion, as some function managers are paid a commission or spotters fee for recommending a particular DJ service.

NightClub Disc Jockeys:
Have very little experience at functions and use very different techniques and programming styles to mobile DJ’s. Further, they often have to hire equipment, adding to their already inflated price due to their status as a “Club DJ”.

Single Unit Disc Jockeys:
This includes many freelance and hobbyists as well as truly professional disc jockeys. Hobbyist DJ’s may be keen, but do not usually have the music range to satisfy all clients, sufficient experience or back-up equipment if things go wrong. These DJ’s are usually only in the business with the hope of making a “quick buck”.

There are however a number of single unit disc jockeys that provide a totally professional experience, have a wide variety of music, sufficient experience to handle any situation, have back-up equipment and contingency plans in case of an unforseen event.

Now that you know about the various types of disc jockeys – your task has been made somewhat easier. Upon finding several disc jockeys that you like, how do you tell which one is best? Remember that you want to choose the entertainer that offers the specific package that matches what you desire. It is important to create a rapport with the DJ over the phone. Pay attention to their manner of speaking and attitude, their personality tends to spill over into their DJ style. How are they at returning phone calls? Were they prompt in sending the information you requested? What does their promotional material look like? If you have that “feeling” in your gut someone is wrong for you, trust your instincts and move on.

Be careful not to become a victim of a price war in which you become the casualty by not getting what you wanted. Think about it, if a DJ keeps dropping the price to get your business, they may not be very good or have the necessary experience to cater for your event. Most professionals rely on referral business and maintain a certain pricing standard. Many times it is worth that extra money to ensure you have a successful event.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask a prospective disc jockey;

1. Do you use professional equipment and provide back-up equipment in case of an emergency?

2. Do you belong to a professional trade group or association? (gives you an indication as to how serious a DJ is about his business)

3. How many years’ experience do you have? (knowing common situations/problems can help keep your wedding running smoothly)

4. How will you be dressed? (if you are having a formal affair, do you want your DJ showing up in jeans)

5. How early will you be there to set up? (typically 45-60 minutes, prior to the guests arriving should be allotted)

6. Will you allow requests? (a flexible DJ will keep you and your guests happy)

7. Do you offer a written contract? (helps avoid potential disputes as to your and the DJ’s obligations)

It is YOUR wedding day, why take unnecessary chances when there are professional DJ’s who will take that extra step to offer exceptional service and ensure that your wedding runs smoothly no matter what happens!!

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