Wedding Budgeting – What do you value?

After DJing weddings for 10+ years I find it ironic how no matter what a couple is looking to spend on their wedding they typically run into the following two scenarios…

1) At some point they exceed their initial wedding budget.

2) They would have spent more had they been able.

The irony is a couple looking to spend only $5,000 vs $250,000 (total wedding cost) will usually find themselves caught in the same dilemma. Why is this?

Quite simply, your wedding is arguably the biggest day of your life and the last thing you want is to feel your wedding was just average or even ruined by making poor budgeting decisions. Unfortunately, many wedding vendors have learned the art of placing “great” importance on additional services/items they’re hoping you’ll purchase. What appears to be a $1000-$10,000 service/item ends up costing double after they get through with you. Do this two or three times and you’ll find you’re over budget before you’ve even finalized all of your “primary wedding decisions”.

To explain, a primary wedding decision is a wedding must have and without it, your wedding would be seriously affected. Determining your wedding must haves should occur before you spend your first dollar or even sign any agreements; however, because everyone’s ideal wedding differs (even amongst the wedding couple themselves), prioritizing and choosing your primary wedding values can be challenging.

A way to go about doing this is somewhat backwards from the typical booking mindset but it works. Begin by talking to your fiancé about what would be the worst vendor news you could receive the morning of your wedding as this will help bring clarity to what you truly value vs. what wedding vendors persuade you to value (this goes for DJs too). For example, if hearing your venue burnt down the night before your wedding would ruin your big day then shift more budgeting dollars towards this decision and select your wedding venue earlier in the planning process. If however, the physical building isn’t as important since you’d love an outdoor wedding and the catering is self-sufficient then shifting more budgeting dollars away from a fancy building might suit your needs better and free up more finances for something else more important to you.

Or, to make it more personal, if learning your DJ is unable to attend the morning of your wedding would ruin your big day then hiring your DJ sooner and shifting more of your budgeting dollars in this direction to ensure quality makes sense. However, if discovering your DJ won’t be able to make it isn’t that big of a deal to you and you feel you could piece something else together last second then shift dollars and priority away from this decision.

Obviously I’m biased but your DJ is the biggest wild card wedding vendor and therefore should be chosen most carefully. Your photographer, caterer, officiant, or florist will rarely ruin your wedding. It’s when the entertainment or fun aspects of your wedding fail that you find yourself let down and even frustrated. The right DJ prevents guest boredom, guests from leaving early, and can help bring life into your desired celebration. Hiring an average to poor DJ usually means the music selection suffers, the dance floor fizzles, and the announcements are inaccurate or even inappropriate; however, many times the DJ is hired last in the vendor selection process.

I can’t believe how many times brides or grooms to be have tried to book me a month before their wedding because their friend who was going to hook up his iPod bailed last second and won’t return their calls. I’d say out of all my phone call inquiries each year, nearly a quarter fall into this category and my response is typically, “I really appreciate you calling but I’ve had that date booked for months”. Now the couple goes into panic mode trying to find someone to fulfil all the roles of a DJ (e.g., ceremony music, microphones, random announcements, filling the dance floor, toast coordination, keeping people dancing, taking requests, providing dance lighting, etc.).

In closing, weddings are expensive. Regardless of your economic status, you’ll most likely find yourself having to budget accordingly. I wish you the best of luck as you make your primary wedding decisions and decipher what you and your fiancé value most.

For questions or comments please feel free to contact me at or 1-800-876-5953. Although I primarily serve the Lake Tahoe area, I enjoy traveling all over to DJ weddings.