Planning a wedding is certainly expensive, but that doesn't mean you can't score amazing deals—even on big-ticket vendors like your reception entertainment. The important thing to remember is that you don't want to sacrifice quality for price. After all, entertainment plays a huge role in your wedding, and if you want your reception to be a total party from start to finish, a great band or DJ is a must. "Anyone who has thrown a great party, one where they talk about it for years or even decades to come, will tell you that it was the experience and the fun and the memories that made it an epic event," says Jeff Bizar, CEO of Bizar Entertainment, Inc., in Deerfield, Illinois. "While all vendors play a role in creating these unforgettable elements, it is your entertainment that has the most direct and powerful impact on your guests."
If you're looking to hire a stellar entertainer for your big day without breaking the bank, here are a few expert-approved secrets to getting a great deal.
Be honest with your budget upfront.
When meeting with potential bands or DJs, be honest and realistic about the budget you have to spend to see how you can creatively work together. "Many DJs will include their pricing on their site, so to save time and ensure your talk is productive, first make sure that you do have the budget to meet their minimum," says Keith Phillips, COO of CP DJs. "From there, make sure your budget is one of the first things you to discuss, so they understand that it's top of mind."
Consider an off date.
Although Saturday nights are the most popular night for weddings, they're also the most expensive. This will be the case for all of your vendors, especially your entertainment. Luckily, most vendors offer discounts for daytime or even Sunday celebrations. "I got married on a Monday because I wanted everyone in my world—people who mostly worked weekends—to be able to join us," says Bizar. "I also saved a ton of money because everyone was open to do it and happy to get a rare Monday booking."
Hire a DJ instead of a band.
You may have your heart set on a live band, but they're almost always significantly more expensive than a DJ. If you can get over the fact that the music played at your wedding will be recorded—which can also be a plus since no one sings Beyoncé songs better than Queen Bey herself—consider hiring a DJ. "With bands, you'll need to anticipate a premium price, as you'll be paying for the cost of multiple entertainers instead of just one or two," says Phillips. "In addition, you may have to set aside part of the budget for standard requests such as staging, a break room, and meals."
Go with a newer and smaller company.
In general, large companies tend to carry more overhead due to managing revolving band members or DJs, explains Sabrina Zeile of Supermoon DJs, in Los Angeles, California. "Large company business models can involve maintaining staff salaries and office space, in addition to paying the artist, but going directly to the artist will almost always be less expensive," she says. "In some cases, DJs at smaller companies will actually be more experienced than the DJs at their large company competitors for this very reason."
Hire a DJ who can also MC.
"At minimum, it's important to make sure that you have someone to make announcements to keep the wedding timeline flowing," says Zeile. "Having a DJ who is also comfortable making announcements will save you from hiring two separate people."