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.