Congratulations to Corrin and Tim! Thank you so much for choosing us to provide photography and videography for your beautiful wedding at Low Willows in Fallbrook, CA. I (Charlie), Suzanne and Millie really enjoyed working with you guys and we hope that these photos will help you remember and relive your big day for many years to come! :) If you would like to order prints, please email us. 4x6 - $1.00/each; 5x7 - $3.00/each; 8x10 - $7.00/each; standard shipping - $5.00 per order.
5 Tips on How to Save Money When Hiring Wedding Vendors: Photographers, Videographers, DJs, Lighting Providers, Photobooths Rentals, Officiants, Florists, Planners, Coordinators, Designers, Caterers, Transportation, etc.
Putting together a schedule and a budget for your event, and finding that the costs are just too high right now? Wondering if there might be a way to shave a few bucks off the final cost, so you can throw a successful event for less, without skimping on quality? Try these tips, and see if they work for you.
1) Ask if there are discounts for leaving Yelp! reviews.
The world of event vending is fiercely competitive, and every vendor is always looking to boost their image and public standing so they can continue to attract clients. For most, the best way to appeal to consumers is through reviews. Small business owners, individuals running small one-person operations, and new businesses just starting out are often in strong need of positive reviews to bolster their image. If they don't already offer a discount for leaving a review, ask if they might be willing to cut you a deal in exchange for a prompt (and positive) Yelp! review.
2) Book during the off season months.
Spring, summer, and early fall are the most popular months for weddings. Vendors know this, and will charge accordingly (which is to say, top dollar). If you want to get married, but aren't heir to an oil fortune, then you may benefit from asking your vendors if they offer lower pricing from late September through early March, which is generally considered "off season." November, December, and January are (in most parts of the US) the coldest and wettest months of the year, so vendors see very little business then, and may be willing to cut you a break in exchange for some much needed patronage.
3) Inquire about military/ nonprofit discounts.
Are you an active or recently retired member of the Armed Forces? Some vendors may be interested in offering discounts to our people in uniform. When discussing booking fees, inquire if they have any military discounts or special packages available. Also, do you work for a certified nonprofit organization? Are you on a tight budget, and can't find anything in your price range? When contacting vendors about packages and services, ask if they offer any discounts or offer any free services to nonprofit organizations. Some may do this as it may be counted as a charitable donation, which confers tax benefits on their company. Be prepared to fill out and possibly notarize documents certifying their donation of goods or services.
4) Find out if they offer partner discounts.
While perusing the websites of various vendors, do you see any common names crop up? Do any of them have names of vendors they like to work with? Venues definitely like to keep a list of preferred vendors available, which can sometimes mean a discount when you book a venue and some of their preferred vendors. However, you might be able to find videographers who have certain photographers they like to work with, or DJs who like to work with photo booth people. Some of these vendors may offer a referral discount, if you book their friend as well, and their friend in turn, since both essentially got each other the booking. While discussing bookings, ask if they have any close associations with other vendors, and if they might be able to cut you a deal (and then ask the other vendor if they can do the same). Or ask if they can be booked as one entity, and providing a sort of group discount.
5) Special Discounts.
For an added bonus, inquire if you can get a special discount from a DJ by not requesting any face-to-face meetings. If the DJ can save on gas money before the event by only corresponding via e-mail or skype, they may be willing to pass on that saving to you. If the DJ is not too keen on making announcements, or if you'd rather have a family member make the major announcements, ask the DJ if they would be willing to shave a few dollars off for not having to make any announcements. If you provide the DJ with a total and comprehensive list of every song you want played at your wedding, right down the top 40 hits you want played at the reception dance, you'd be taking some pressure off the DJ to have to guess what should be played, and narrows down the field of music they need to have handy for the dance. That kind of time and effort conservation they may be grateful for, and you may be able to ask that they knock a couple bucks off as such. And a videographer or photographer may be happy to shave $100 or more off their normal price if you make the effort to coordinate with them via only skype or e-mail, and if you have someone on hand to help them find the optimal spots to place their gear for the best shots. Coordinating with the videographer with the location of the grand entrance well in advance so they know where to place their cameras to get maximum quality video will definitely be in your best interest.
Written by Dave Andersson
The big day is here. You've picked a beautiful cake, this resort's ceremony garden has a stunning view of lush, green vineyards, and the caterers from Marseilles are cooking up the most amazing meals your guests will ever eat. The DJ is setting up in the reception room, the photographer and videographer have all called to report they're on their way, and florist is arranging flowers at the entrance. Everything is perfect. But have you forgotten anything?
Now the question you must ask yourself is: how closely have I communicated with my vendors? It seems an odd question, but how in-depth you've communicated with your vendors can have a tremendous impact on the smoothness and success of your wedding.
For example: did you ask your photographer and videographer if they are bringing assistants? And if yes, did you allocate meals for them and their assistants, so they are fed? Your vendors will be running around taking every piece of footage and imagery possible to ensure that they've captured your wedding's every nuance. All that legwork is exhausting. During the mealtime in the middle of the reception, it would be a very kind gesture to make sure that your staff are fed. It not only fosters goodwill, but also guarantees that your vendors will have the energy they need to keep running around and capture every aspect of your wedding with the highest attention to detail possible.
On the subject of wedding videographers, have you coordinated with them (and their assistants) about important moments such as the entryway you will use for Grand Entrance, and the Parent-Child dances? The Grand Entrance is a crucial event, and often, the videographer works alone, and in a large space with multiple entrances. They will supplement their equipment with a tripod to capture much of the Grand Entrance while getting in close with a handheld camera. It is essential that they know where to plant their tripod, so they can capture as much footage of the event as possible, from every angle. Deciding on the entrance well in advance, and communicating which entrance point you will come through helps your videographer establish the best shots, and not risk panicked moments where they chose the wrong door to set up their cameras, and be forced to bolt across the room at the last second (thereby missing some of the first groomsmen and bridesmaids that enter).
And when your parent-child dances come up, have you clearly established the order in which dances will occur? Is each dance separate, or will it be a group dance? Knowing these key elements of the event will also help you videographer set up their equipment properly, and know who to follow (and when) during the dances, so they capture the best footage possible of all parties.
And last but not least, when all is said and done, and the DJ has packed up and gone, and the venue staff are pulling away, did you make a note to leave an online review for your vendors? The caterers, the DJ, the MC, the photographer, the videographer, the venue itself, all of them depend on positive press to stay in business, and attract customers (or, if they didn't do so well, an appropriate review reflecting that can help them improve their service). Something as simple as a "Fantastic job! Our photographer took the most amazing shots we ever could have wanted!" and a four or five star rating on Yelp! can make all the difference in helping your vendors continue to stay in business, and provide happiness for brides and grooms for many years to come.
Written by Dave Andersson
How to Save Money on a Wedding DJ? Ways of Saving Money on a DJ. Ipod vs. DJ. Wedding Blog San Diego
We understand how difficult, overwhelming and expensive it can be to plan your wedding day. Everything seems very important, things add up very quickly and it’s very easy to spend more money than you can afford. This little article will provide some tips and ideas on what you can do to reduce the cost of your wedding entertainment.
First of all, you should contact at least 10 different companies and ask if they have any current specials. It might be less time consuming to email them, which would also allow you to ask more questions and get more detailed answers. Before asking the price question, make sure to tell them a little bit about your wedding, its date and location, the number of guests, the services you need, etc. Be polite, friendly and try to send a personal message to every DJ you’re interested in. Don’t forget to find out what’s actually included in their packages and what extras you may need.
If you’re looking for an experienced, professional, personal and talented wedding DJ/MC, use Google, Youtube and Yelp. Depending on your wedding details and the area where you live, the price range is going to be between $500 and $3000. However, if you’re looking for the cheapest wedding DJ in your area and the outcome of your wedding is not as important as the price of the DJ, then look on Craigslist and you will find many people willing to DJ your wedding for $300 or less. Please note that this can be compared to hiring someone from Craigslist to fix your teeth instead of using a professional dentist. Keeping in mind that this is one of the most important days of your life, there are too many risks involved: DJ not showing up, broken equipment, improper attire, poor announcements, wrong songs, bad timing, unprofessional customer service, lack of experience, etc.
If you still seriously consider hiring the cheapest wedding DJ you can find, it might be better to rent a good sound system instead and prepare the music yourself. This would allow you to save some money and still be on top of planning your big day. You can find a lot of information on wedding music and best wedding songs online. Most AV companies charge between $200 and $400 for a decent PA system. For instance, our $200 sound system rental package includes two 15’’ 550-watt speakers on stands, one wired microphone with a stand, one small sound mixer with a 3.5mm audio cable for your laptop or iPod, delivery, setup, tear down, labor and tax. If you’re not sure how to find a PA system rental company in your town, simply go to Google.com and type in “sound system rental” followed by the name of the city/area where you’re getting married.
Our final piece of advice is to understand the importance of your wedding reception entertainment and prioritize accordingly. Many current studies have shown that most people spend only about 8% of their wedding budget on a DJ, while music accounts for at least 70% of their wedding’s success. Most brides and grooms regret not spending more time and money on their DJ, while most guests consider entertainment to be one of the most memorable parts of a wedding. The good news is that DJ business is actually extremely competitive and, as long as you spend some time on research, it’s almost impossible not to find one within your budget. If you’d like to check out our DJ packages, please click here.
Wedding Lighting Ideas: LED Up Lights, Table Under Lighting, Pin Spot, Gobo, Dance Floor & Stage Lights
Are you thinking of using lighting as a part of your wedding reception décor? In this article, we’ll go over the basics on different wedding lighting décor options and their pricing. If you’re not sure how a certain type of lighting usually looks like, all you need to do is Google it for images and plenty will come up.
1) Up lighting. This is definitely the most popular and probably one of the most affordable ways to add class, elegance and sophistication to your wedding. Depending on the size of your main ballroom, you might need anywhere between 8 and 40 fixtures. Up lights can also be used outdoors for decorating buildings, columns, polls, palm trees, etc. The rental service price usually starts at $25 per light and goes all the way up to $75 per fixture, which depends on where you get it and what kind of lights are being used. It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to use dozens of fixtures if you’re trying to save money for something else. Even if it’s just a few up lights, they will still look awesome and add a lot!
2) Table under lighting. Oftentimes, the exact same fixtures are used for this as for up lighting but you might need more than one fixture or a special mega bar light to make each table look good. Most couples usually have this type of lighting under their head table and/or the cake table. If you’d like to use this for all the tables, it might be a good idea to consider renting wireless fixtures instead of regular wired lights just so that you don’t have too many power cables taped down all over the floor. The pricing will vary between $50 and $150 per table and it’s definitely a great investment if you have a little bit of extra money that can be spent on your room décor.
3) Pin spot lighting. This is a perfect way to light your cake, table tops and other centerpieces everywhere in the room. We hang the lights on top of special tripod stands and direct the fixtures toward your centerpieces, which creates a very beautiful high end effect and makes it easier for everyone to notice your cake, flowers, photos, candles, champagne glasses, etc. The pricing starts at $25 per light and we usually recommend using at least two fixtures per object. Other companies may charge more while using older lights and you would need to have at least 4 fixtures per centerpiece to get a similar amount of impression from your guests.
4) Dance floor lighting. Basic LED color wash/flood lights are very inexpensive and will add a lot of energy and excitement to your dancing area. They will change colors and various patterns along with music and will set the right mood for the dancing portion of the night. If you don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for your lighting, do not spend money on moving head lights that won’t generate much impression but will cost a lot of money. You can find a decent dance floor lighting rental package for as low as $200-$300, which would include a few different fixtures on a T-stand or a truss.
5) Stage lighting. If you’re planning to have a live band, it might be a good idea to ask them if they offer any stage lighting. If they don’t, we suggest that you contact a lighting rental company that will help you put together a special package for your stage. This is very important because you will probably want your musicians and your DJ to be seen clearly. You might also want to have some kind of a stage light show during their performance to entertain your guests and make it an unforgettable experience. Stage lighting packages usually start at a few hundred dollars and go up to thousands per show. This type of lighting usually requires additional setup time and special lighting truss stands.
6) Gobo projection. If you’d like to have your names, initials, your wedding date or any other special message to be projected on your dance floor, one of the walls or a ceiling, you would need to rent a gobo projector with a custom monogram. The average price for this service is $250-$350 per light. The reason it’s not very cheap is because good gobo projectors are pricey and your rental company would actually have to pay another company to manufacture your gobo, which is usually laser cut and made from steel. Ordering, handling and shipping each gobo takes time and this service has to be arranged in advance. We suggest that you have your gobo projected on a wall instead of a dance floor because usually it will look brighter and more noticeable throughout the night.
We hope that the information above clarifies some aspects of wedding lighting décor and makes it easier for you to make your choices. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our wedding and event lighting rental services, please contact us. Thank you!
San Diego Wedding DJ
Were you surprised when you found out how much it would cost to have even a simple wedding? Why do wedding vendors, including disc jockeys, charge so much money for their services? What is the difference between an affordable $500 DJ and a more expensive one? How important is the role of entertainment at wedding receptions and how much should be spent on it? What do you do if you’re on a tight budget?
Before I started my own wedding entertainment company, I had worked part-time for other well-established San Diego wedding DJs as their assistant and sound technician. When I started to realize how much money they were charging their clients, I was literally shocked. Back then I did not understand how much time it took them to plan each wedding and I did not know anything about their business expenses. I thought they were the lucky guys who didn't do much, worked one day per week, had fun and made a decent amount of money.
As I continued working for different local DJ companies, I was becoming more and more interested in learning more about their business and how they made their success happen. I started to understand that they had to spend a lot of money in order to make profit and stay in business. I also realized that most of them had to work five, six or even seven days per week in order to stay on top of everything they did. In fact, most full-time wedding disc jockey companies normally invest 15 to 30 hours to every wedding while it may appear that you are only paying for "4 hours". In addition, they have to constantly spend thousands of dollars on their sound and lighting equipment, music, insurance, education, office space, advertising, marketing, etc.
People often ask me why many event vendors and professionals tend to charge more money for their services at weddings. Well, it’s because your expectations are higher and vendors need to spend more time and money to deliver the types of services you require. Most birthday cakes are not the same as wedding cakes, just like a birthday DJ service is different from a wedding DJ service. While a simple DJ setup is usually sufficient for a birthday party, when it comes to weddings, two or three sound systems, customized selection of songs, MC announcements and introductions, several personal meetings and lots of planning are required for a successful job completion. As a matter of fact, I know some event professionals who are happy to work at all kinds of events but weddings (not Golden Gate Sunrise Entertainment).
According to current studies, people spend only about eight percent of their wedding budget on entertainment, while the importance of their wedding’s success depends 70 percent on entertainment. In fact, the vast majority of your guests won’t remember anything (including your cake, décor, chair covers, photo booth, food, paper menus, transportation, your hair, you nails, your dress, etc.) but your wedding reception entertainment and how much fun they had. Almost all the brides regret not spending more time and money on their entertainment, while almost all the guests consider music to be the most memorable part of a wedding. Simply ask a few of your friends or do some online research on this and you will find similar statements almost everywhere. Your DJ sets the mood for the entire night and it’s very important not to underestimate this.
Shopping for DJs is somewhat similar to shopping for used cars. They are all different and, while it’s obvious that price is always one of the main factors we consider when we make our choices, the difference between an affordable $500 DJ and a more expensive one can be compared with the difference between a $500 used car with no engine and a more expensive and more reliable used car that costs more money. If you find a wedding DJ who wants to work for $500 or less, usually it means that he is an amateur and this is not what he does for a living. Unless someone else is paying your bills or you have another job, it’s not possible to afford all the equipment and provide personalized quality wedding entertainment services while charging $500, at least not in San Diego. Please keep in mind that there are some dedicated hard-working individuals who are starting out in the business and all I’m suggesting is to do your research and get to know your DJ before you make your final decision. You can also take a look at my “DJ Hiring Tips” article to learn more about this topic.
What do you do if you’re on a tight budget? As a matter of fact, most of us are on a tight budget and we can’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on our weddings simply because we don’t have that kind of money. I completely understand it and here’s a list of a few ideas that might help you plan your wedding and save money.
1) Write down a list of services you’d like to use for your wedding: venue, DJ, band, photography, videography, food, drinks, transportation, furniture, photo booth, cake, dress, rings, room décor, flowers, lighting, etc. Prioritize those services and decide which ones are the most important to you. Even if you have a $100 000 budget, you will still end up having to save on something.
2) Once you’ve chosen the most important ones (e.g. venue, DJ & videography), increase your budget for those services and save as much money as possible on everything else.
3) If you have to, consider cutting down the number of guests. It might be better to have a great unforgettable wedding with 100 people in attendance than a so-so wedding where 200 guests get bored and start leaving early.
4) Have your wedding on any day but Saturday. Many wedding vendors charge less money for their services on weekdays and/or Sundays because they are less likely to be booked for those days and it makes sense for them to attract more potential clients by reducing their rates.
5) If you still can’t afford hiring a good wedding DJ or it’s not important to you, you have the option of renting a sound system and playing your own music. I’ve seen many people who simply don’t like DJs. Instead, they rent speakers and play rock music or anything else they want to hear without having to spend extra time and money. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of DJs myself but, when it comes to weddings, it might be really helpful to have an experienced person in charge of all the music for your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, all the sound systems, all the lighting, all the announcements and introductions, the person who coordinates all the vendors and makes sure everything runs on time, makes sure all of your guests are having a good time, helps you plan your timeline, helps you prepare a good wedding music selection, etc.
6) Search the web for more ideas. You’ll be surprised how many people have been in the same situation you are now and are willing to share the ways they saved tens of thousands of dollars when planning their dream weddings.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.
If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Wedding Disc Jockey
What should you consider when working on your wedding music selection? How much freedom should you give your DJ when choosing songs for your wedding reception? What kinds of music or specific songs should you and your DJ avoid to make sure everyone is happy? What else is there to think about before you pick your favorite songs for your ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, first dance, bouquet toss, garter removal, cake cutting and all other key events?
First of all, it’s very important to understand that your personal music preferences will most likely be different from what would make the vast majority of your guests happy. If your goal is to make sure everyone has a good time, your DJ would have to find the right mixture of what you really like and what your guests would enjoy listening and dancing to, which would depend on their background, nationality, age, interests and many other factors.
I've heard many people say that “If the dance floor in not packed, the DJ in no good”. Well, this is not always the case because sometimes the DJ has to follow the playlist provided by the client and has no freedom to play the songs he thinks would work well. Also, not everyone likes to dance and many people might still enjoy the music while catching up with someone at the bar or doing something else. You might not even realize it before your wedding reception, but some of your guests might not like to dance at all. You will never get me on the dance floor and the number of people dancing or not dancing should not be used to judge the DJ. Instead, it might be a good idea to look around and see if people are having fun while socializing, drinking, taking pictures, etc.
If you hire a qualified wedding DJ, he will tell you that he would be happy to play whatever you want him to play and offer his music knowledge and experience to help you choose good songs for all of the events that would take place at your wedding reception. In my opinion, it might be a good idea to let the DJ do the dancing part and have him play the songs you like during the cocktail hour and dinner. This would allow you to definitely hear the music you like while allowing your guests to enjoy some of the music they like and would possibly dance to. It’s totally fine to have a “play” list and “do not play” list as this gives your DJ an idea of what your preferences are and helps him make you happy. However, it might be wise to keep the “do not play” list short as it limits the selection of good dancing songs and might make it more difficult for your DJ to please some of your guests.
Another important thing to consider is whether your wedding DJ should take requests from your guests. I’ve seen a number of situations where drunk and sober guests come up to DJs and start teaching them how to be a good wedding disc jockey, what to play and what not to play. Oftentimes, they ask for songs they personally like and think that everyone else will enjoy hearing it. However, those songs are often inappropriate and someone’s personal music preferences should not interfere with the playlist you’ve discussed with your DJ. Therefore, if you ask your disc jockey to play all music requests from all of your guests, it will definitely change the outcome of your wedding reception and the dance floor is likely to be less crowded, if not empty. In my opinion, you should choose the “DJ’s Discretion” option when planning your wedding entertainment as it will make it a lot easier and more fun for you, your guests and your wedding disc jockey.
Are there any specific songs or genres you and your DJ should avoid? Not really, unless you really hate something and don’t want to hear it under any circumstances. Make sure you let your DJ know if you want him to play clean versions of songs or the easy-to-get versions that contain profanity. Keep in mind that, as long as your disc jockey has enough freedom to choose most songs for the dancing part (where your guests will be actively involved), you can pick your very favorite songs for your ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, first dance, bouquet toss, garter removal, cake cutting and all other key events. If you have more questions or comments, feel free to post it below this article or contact me.
San Diego Wedding Band
What should you consider when choosing between a wedding disc jockey and a live band? How can you make sure you’re dealing with dedicated, experienced and professional entertainers? How much does it cost to hire a DJ vs. a band? Thinking of having both a DJ and a band for your wedding reception? Not sure how to make it work? Read on!
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of different comments from people in regards to their views and opinions on this topic and I would like to start by clarifying some of the most common disbelieves and confusions out there.
“It is more expensive to have a band than a DJ.” Most established DJ companies charge between $1000 and $3000 for a wedding reception while most established bands charge the same amount of money. While being a musician requires a lot more talent and years practice than being a DJ, many bands are charging less money and getting paid less just to be able to compete with those DJs and stay in business. These days, the demand for live music is fairly low but I believe that it’s just a matter of time before live bands and musicians become popular again. Then DJ companies will have to reduce their rates and the financial difference between hiring a band and a DJ will be more significant and make a little more sense :)
“Bands can play only specific genres, all the songs sound the same and it gets boring. DJs are more flexible.” This might be the case if you are dealing with very unprofessional bands or if you really hate live music. The main purpose of any professional wedding entertainer is to satisfy their client and make as many guests happy as possible. And since all people have different music preferences, many of the wedding bands constantly work on expending their repertory while experimenting with different genres, transitions and sounds. This allows them to play different kinds of songs from different eras and be just as flexible and accommodating as some of the top class wedding DJs. In my opinion, there is a lot more appeal, sophistication, energy and excitement when there is a band playing live instead of (or in addition to) a DJ pushing two buttons on his laptop.
“Are there any advantages of having a DJ?” Well, it can be many different things. Sometimes DJs might be better for playing electronic music. Also, many of the San Diego wedding DJs have become popular, to a large extent, because of their ability to MC all necessary announcements and introductions. DJs do not have to “learn” the songs they play and if you’re looking for a large number of non-mainstream songs, it would be easier for your DJ to download them than for the whole band to learn them just for your wedding. Also, if your space is limited, a DJ setup would not require as much space as most bands would.
Depending on your venue, your personal preferences and other details, there will be more advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing between having a disc jockey vs. a live band. However, there is another option of choosing to have both at the same time and there are many different ways to make it work. One of the most common ones is to have a DJ, a pianist or a guitarist for your ceremony and/or cocktail hour and then a live band for your dinner. Your DJ would take over the dancing part and this way you would get a nice mixture of both DJ and live entertainment, which is very likely to surprise and please the vast majority of your guests.
One of the most important parts of shopping around for DJs and bands is to make sure you’re hiring dedicated, experienced and professional entertainers. You need to find out if the person you’re dealing with is the actual DJ who would be playing at your wedding and not just the sales person who tells you exactly what you want to hear in order to get you to buy their package. There are many couples who try to save many on entertainment and end up with a lot of disappointment and frustration because of relying on subcontracted DJs who, oftentimes, aren't trained and experienced enough to be a part of one of the most important day of your life. Many of them are paid a very small portion of the fee you’re paying to the company and poor level of service, old-school equipment and inappropriate attire are just a few of the possible consequences of dealing with those kinds of companies. While pictures, videos, reviews and referrals are great ways to learn more about the company you’re interested in hiring, in my opinion, one of the most important things is to be able to trust your wedding entertainer by establishing a personal relationship.
There are several companies in the San Diego area that offer packages that include DJs and live music, and Golden Gate Sunrise Entertainment is one of them. Their all-inclusive “Red Diamond” package provides a DJ for your ceremony, a pianist for your cocktail hour, a live jazz trio for your dinner and a DJ for the rest of your reception along with MC services, up lighting, dance floor lighting, highly personalized planning and more. The cost of this package can be compared to the cost of hiring a wedding DJ (or a band) alone. If you’re interested in learning more, you can click here.
DJ Charlie Walkrich - The Best of Dubstep & Electro House 2013 Mix (on Fire!)