Planning a wedding, party, or event is stressful. There are numerous details to think about, and the first, of course, is your budget. Everyone wants to have an amazing wedding or event, and though some people can have an event and not worry about the cost (A-List celebrities), not everyone can enjoy this luxury.
Check out the article "Planning an A-Lister Wedding Party on a Budget" from our friends at Wow Event Hire, in the UK! They wrote a great article on this topic and we were also quoted, too! :) Enjoy the article and the great tips!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
When it comes to wedding and event planning, there are numerous things to consider when planning your special event. One of the main expenses for your wedding or event is the catering. The more guests you have, the more it costs to feed them, of course. The average cost for catering for an Austin wedding with 101 - 200 guests, is around $7,400 - $12,000, according to costsofweddings.com
If you're planning on a budget, there are a few ways to help save on the wedding catering costs. Here are five great ways to save.
These are just a few great ways to save on your catering expenses. Be sure to check out our 20 Smart, Money-Saving Tips article, for even more great ways to save!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
So you're having a wedding or special event, soon. How do I know this? Because you wouldn't be reading this, if you weren't. :) Everyone wants to have a great wedding, birthday party, quinceanera, or special event, and if you can save some money in the process, why not do so? Here are some easy tips on how to have a fabulous wedding or event, and save money, too!
We actually were interviewed on "Good Day Austin," on Fox 7 News, discussing this very blog! If you didn't catch it, here are the tips. :)
1. Take your time - Not only is "Take Your Time" a great Country song by Sam Hunt, but it's great advice! The average length of engagement is 14 months, but it can certainly be longer. Why? The longer your engagement, the longer you have to save money and plan your big day! This goes for planning any event, such as a quinceanera, anniversary, birthday party or special event. You already know the date, so the sooner you get started planning, the better chance you'll have to save!
2. Don't Get Saturday Night Fever - Though "Saturday Night Fever" was an iconic 70's movie, don't catch it! Saturday weddings are the norm and venue owners and vendors know this. You'll always pay the "normal," premium price for a Saturday wedding or event. Book your event on a Friday, Sunday, or even a weekday, and save some serious money!
3. Consider the Off-Season - Have a wedding or event in the "off-season" and save lots of money! Wedding season is typically March - late July, in central Texas. Fall weddings are becoming increasingly popular, too! Now, fall weddings and events, September - mid-November, are just as expensive as Spring events. If you can have a wedding or event in the "off-season," December - February, you'll save a lot of money on your venue and possibly, your vendors! Be sure to find out when the off-season is for your area.
4. Use Non-Required Vendors - Many venue owners have a written or verbal contract with vendors, and many times, they will receive a referral fee, for each booking the vendor gets from this venue. Though this is great for them, but it's not for you! Why? Simply because the vendors are not going to lose that referral fee. Chances are, they'll raise their prices to cover that fee and you'll end up paying a premium price for the "preferred vendor." Some venues will even charge you a fee, if you don't use their vendors. Feel free to dispute this fee. They want your business, so it doesn't hurt to try.
5. Shop Around - Always, shop around. With the internet, it's so easy to get quotes from various vendors. Don't book the first vendor with the lowest price. Remember to look at the value of what you're paying for, not simply the lowest price. You may get more value from a vendor who is not the cheapest! Always ask what comes with the service. If you need to hire a great DJ or photo booth in the Austin, Texas area, we know of one! :)
6. Use One Venue - Have your wedding ceremony and reception in the same place, if possible. This way, you won't have to pay the rental fee for two different venues. Many venues offer an outdoor ceremony area and indoor reception area, for one, flat fee. Just ask your wedding officiant to perform the service at your venue. This also saves time and saves your guests from having to travel to different venues.
7. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for More – Weddings and events are great moments, for you, your families and friends, but don’t forget, for venue owners and vendors, though it’s always nice to be a part of someone’s special day, it’s still business. Ask the venue owner/manager, what’s included with the price? Do they offer table linen and chairs with the price, or are they extra? With vendors, ask the same question, what’s included with the price? Then follow it up with “If I decide to book, today, will you throw in anything free or extras?” It doesn’t hurt to ask.
8. Consider a Restaurant - We're seeing more and more weddings and parties held at local restaurants, versus wedding or event venues. Most restaurants have a minimum person fee, many start at 50 guests. Restaurant managers will simply charge you for the food and drinks, for your guests, and not a venue rental fee. They'll set up the room, tables, linen, decor, etc., AND they'll clean up, afterwards, too. Saving you the time and hassle of doing this! You can also ask about hiring your DJ or band to come in and play, for the reception.
9. Take it to the House - The courthouse, that is. Consider getting married at the courthouse, to save a ton of money. You'll simply pay the filing fee, about $85, in Travis county. This saves you the time and stress of planning your ceremony, hiring ceremony musicians or a DJ, planning the ceremony, etc. This will leave you time to focus on planning a great reception. This will also mean you'll save money on your venue, since the number of hours will be less (you won't need time for the ceremony and cocktail hour). Yes, this is not the same thing as getting married in front of all your family and friends, but if you're on a tight budget, this is an option.
10. Consider Other Dinner Options - Many restaurants offer on-site catering for phenomenally less than the typical wedding/event catering companies. Call around and get quotes. Be sure to know the number of guests you'll have. Many weddings we've done served BBQ, for dinner. You can save lots of money doing this, and it's Texas, so nearly everyone loves BBQ! Be sure to have healthy and vegetarian options, too.
Additionally, always serve buffet style, not plated. Plated dinners always cost a lot more. If you really want to save, you can serve heavy appetizers throughout the event, as well.
11. Reconsider the Cake - Though cakes are traditional for weddings, quinceaneras, and other events, they're not required. The wedding police won't show up at your event if you opt to serve something else. Many couples have a small wedding cake for them to cut, and then serve sheet cake from Sam's Club or Costco, or cupcakes, to their guests. Other weddings we've done have served cookies, donuts, and even apples! One wedding had decorated apples for the bride and groom, and each table was served a bucket with a variety of chocolate-covered or candied apples. Great idea!
12. Consider Your Drink Options - When it comes to drinks and cocktails, find out if the venue will let you bring your own alcohol. You can simply buy as much as you'd like, and when you're out, you're out. You can simply buy a keg of your favorite beer, and serve 1-2 types of wine, and perhaps 1-2 signature cocktails. This will save a lot of money! Be sure to hire a TABC certified bartender, so your guests don't get over-served and make it home safely.
13. Flower Power – The power of flowers is real, except you don’t get to throw fireballs at things, unless you’re Mario or Luigi, from Mario Bros. Real or fake flowers? Depending upon which kind of flower you choose, real or fake flowers can cost nearly the same. If you’re dead set on real flowers, always choose in-season flowers. If you choose fake flowers, scent can also be added! Keep in mind, roses will always cost more, so consider other types of flowers. We’ve done many weddings without flowers, except the bouquet, and to be honest, no one came up to us and asked “Where are the flowers?” No one will really miss them, honestly.
Don’t forget, your local grocery store sells flowers at a fraction of the cost! Give them plenty of notice, and you can get a great deal on flowers, versus the local florist. You can also get great cakes, much cheaper, too!
14. Second Beats First, Sometimes – Though second place is rarely seen as better than first, it can be with décor. Go on Craigslist, and look for wedding décor. You’ll see lots of recent newlyweds selling décor and other items from their wedding. You can save a lot of money buying items second-hand, and no one will notice!
15. Be Your Own DJ – You can certainly “be your own DJ” for a fraction of the cost. Simply create a playlist of your favorite music, hook up your laptop or iPod to the venue’s sound system, and you’ll hear your favorite tunes, all night! Don’t forget that your guests have a variety of musical taste, so include various genres. If your venue doesn’t have a sound system, rent one from a local musical instrument rental store.
Keep in mind, your playlist will not change, take requests, mix the music, or “read the crowd.” Your playlist won’t know when to change genres, like a good DJ will. You will need to have someone “MC” key moments, so you may have to hire someone or have a friend/family member do this. You’ll need dance floor lights, to create the fun atmosphere, too.
16. Know When You Need a DJ – Plan out your timeline and find out when you actually need your DJ to start playing. Keep in mind, DJs charge for their time, hourly, so be sure to ask if set up and break-down is included with the price, or charged separately. If the wedding or event is small, consider only using the DJ for the reception. Often times, we’ll be booked for the ceremony and reception, but the officiant didn’t really need the microphone, since the venue was so small. Think about dinner, too. You can create your own playlist, as mentioned above, and bring a good stereo system to play it during dinner, saving you the cost of having the DJ play music during that time.
17. DIY Your Wedding/Event Photo booth – You’ll need to buy all the props from Amazon or your local party store, buy your backdrop, a few stands to set up your backdrop, and you’ll have an open-air photo booth! Guests can take pictures with their phones. Set up an Instagram wedding account with whatever hashtag you choose, ask your guests to tag your wedding account and voila, your guests' pictures will all be there! Your guests won’t be able to have their own photo strips to take home, though. You’ll also have to set up and break-down the photo booth area. Check out our Simple, Affordable DIY Photo Booth Options blog, for more great photo booth ideas!
18. Deposits & Payments – Ask about the amount of the deposits, when they’re due, cancellation policies, etc. Many vendors charge 50% of the total cost, for the deposit. Though this is okay, be sure to ask if this is flexible. Can you pay 25%? Why not? Can you pay the total amount in payments? Is there a charge to do this? Get receipts for everything you pay, and always correspond via email, so you have it in writing, too. Vendors sometimes require full payment, before the event happens. Be careful when doing this. Sometimes, the vendors can be late, not fulfill their end of the contract, etc., and you’ve already paid them. Ask if payment can be made the day of the event.
19. Get it in Writing – Though this doesn’t seem like a tip to save money, it actually is. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve received calls that their DJ or photo booth service won’t return their calls, and they’ve already paid the deposit! These customers lost their deposit, and then had to hire us, anyway. Be smart, get it in writing!
20. Do Your Research – Do your research on vendors, the venue, planning tips, etc. Look for reviews. Remember, no business can have 100% positive reviews. You can’t please people 100% of the time, it’s just not possible. Look at the date of the reviews. Look for different sources: Google, Wedding Wire, Yelp, Facebook, The Knot, etc. If you’re reading this, then you’re obviously doing your research! Way to go! Certainly feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need any advice, and we’ll be happy to help!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
If you're planning your wedding, then you already know that having a wedding can be very expensive! Whether you're planning your wedding in Austin or central Texas, or in Manhattan, NYC, having a wedding means spending a lot of money! Everyone wants to have a fun, memorable wedding. How much it costs you, depends on your preferences and budget. Luckily, we're here to offer you some great money-saving tips, to help you save and still have your dream wedding!
Another way to save is by reconsidering the venue. We've seen couples choose to have their reception at a restaurant. Yes, this is very untraditional, but also somewhat brilliant! You don't have to pay for catering staff, you can bring in your own decor, you don't have to worry about cleanup, they'll have the space you need, etc. They'll likely have a minimum order that you have to purchase, but if you're looking to save a lot of money, this is certainly an option!
We could go on and on on how to save, but these are just a few, great ways to save. As always, contact us if you have any questions, and we'll be happy to help. Check out our 20 Smart, Money Saving Tips blog for other great ways to save!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
If you're planning a wedding, party, quinceanera or event, then chances are, you're also considering a photo booth! We know it may seem strange that a photo booth company would write an article about how to DIY your own photo booth; however, we're different. We write our helpful tips and advice with you, the client, in mind! We want to help everyone have a fun, memorable event, even if you're not our client. :)
If you're on a really tight budget, there are some alternatives to hiring a photo booth company. Here are a few DIY alternatives to consider.
DIY Photo Booth With a Tablet
One way to DIY a photo booth, is to use a tablet, such as an iPad or any tablet, and take pictures with the tablet's camera. You can install a photo booth app, if you'd like to have more features, but if you're simply looking to take pictures and post them to social media, the regular camera would work just fine. Be sure to add your wedding hastag, to collect the photos. Check out our article on the wedding hashtag generator article, for more info, if you don't already have a wedding or event hashtag.
Next, you'll need to buy a stand for your tablet, too. This tablet stand costs $25.99 on Amazon and will easily work for your DIY photo booth. You'll also need to create your own backdrop, or just use the venue's wall, if you don't want to create a backdrop. Also, be sure to buy or use an extension cord, just in case your tablet needs to be charged. Also, make sure to set up your photo booth in a well lit area. You can buy a single photo booth lighting kit, (soft box, light and stand) if you need more lighting, for about $40.
Next, you'll simply buy some fun photo booth props, or even make your own props, such as a custom photo booth frame! Be sure to check out Pinterest for plenty of DIY photo booth frame ideas.
DIY Photo Booth With a Mobile Phone
If you don't have a tablet, you can always do the above steps, but simply have your guests use their mobile phones. This is not exactly a "photo booth," but you'll have guests take their favorite pics and use your hashtag. There are even several free photo booth apps that you can have your guests use. This is by far the least expensive option, since you would not have to buy a tablet stand, and people can use their flashes on their phones.
As with the above DIY photo booth example, this is only for posting to social media and does not offer printouts. All you'll need to provide is the hashtag, props, and a well lit area! That will cost you less than $30! :)
DIY Photo Booth With an Instant Print Camera
If you're looking to add printouts to your DIY photo booth station, you can purchase an instant print camera, such as the camera in the above picture. This was a picture of our clients' actual DIY photo booth station. They used the Fujifilm Instax Mini cameras. You can get these cameras on Amazon, for about $56, each. You'll have to buy film for about $37, for 60 prints. This is more expensive than the other options, but your guests can take a printout home. You'll also have to buy props, or make your own props, as well.
The drawbacks to this is that you only get one printout and you have to be in a well lit area, even with the flash. So if you want all your guests to get printouts, they'll have to take multiple photos, which means more film you'll have to buy. So to purchase the camera, 120 printouts, and props it will cost you about $150. This is still an economical option, especially if you want printouts.
Rent a Photo Booth
Your last option, though it isn't a DIY option, is to simply rent a photo booth for your wedding or event. Photo booth prices can really vary, and what you get with the rental can also vary. You can rent our professional photo booth, which comes with unlimited photo sessions, high quality prints (using a professional dye-sub printer), a 20 megapixel camera, props, lighting, a backdrop and a professional photo booth attendant, starting at $395. This is a very affordable option, considering many of our competitors have the exact same setup, for double, or triple the cost! (We've done our research).
Though our rate is more than the above options, our professional photo booth offers the ability to add custom text, or a logo, produces high quality, 2X6 or 4X6 printouts in seconds, includes animated GIF photos, allows for 3 different poses per session, includes your choice of backdrop color, includes professional lighting, includes fun, unique props, and has a variety of other options, all which will produce great pictures, every time!
The best part: you just show up and have fun! No need to set anything up by yourself, change out the film rolls (like the instant print cameras), worry about forgetting anything on your event date, worry about your guests damaging the equipment (we all know that person who will get too tipsy and may drop the camera, tip over the stand, etc). Leave the stress to us and enjoy your special day! :)
Be sure to check out our photo booth rental considerations article; for more tips, visit our choosing your photo booth backdrops, photo booth props and adding a photobook, article!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
Graduation Party at San Marcos Rec Hall
Last Saturday, we had a great time providing a DJ and photo booth for a graduation party, at the San Marcos Rec Hall! The guests had a great time dancing and taking pictures at the photo booth. We loved the custom picture frame prop that they made, in the picture above!
Congrats, again, to Marissa, who will also be starting at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi, this fall! Also, if you're looking for a nice, decent size venue with a really affordable price, check out the San Marcos Rec Hall!
This party was last year, but we decided to add our DIY photo booth frame instructions, due to the enormous amount of interest we've received about their custom photo booth frame! If you want to make your own photo booth frame/props, like the one they made, below, read below! :)
How To Make Your Own Photo Booth Frame/Prop
Foam Board - Be sure to buy a large foam board, from your favorite local craft stores, Walmart, Amazon, or wherever you'd like to buy it from. Hint: If you choose a colored one, such as the black that they chose, above, it saves you time! Choose the size that best suits your needs. A 20" X 30" foam board should work well.
Ruler - Next, you'll need a ruler, to draw on the foam board. You'll want to draw a rectangle, inside the foam board, which will be your photo frame. Make sure it's large enough to allow you to write inside the frame. It should be at least 3-4 inches.
Exacto Blade - Next, you'll need to carefully cut out the rectangle, using an Exacto razor. Take your time, since you want it to be as straight as possible!
Foam Letters- Next, choose the color of letters you want to use to go onto your frame. If your event has certain theme colors, be sure to use similar colors. If it's a graduation party, you can use the school's colors. You can find self-adhesive letters, online, or in a local craft store, that make it a little easier and save you time.
Glue, glitter, scissors, construction paper, markers - Next, you can add anything else onto the frame, such as graduation hat outlines (as pictured above), hearts, or whatever you'd like. Simply use your markers to draw your shapes onto the paper and cut them out. Once you have them cut out, glue them onto the foam board, For the glue, you can use a hot glue gun, or simply use Elmer's glue. Be careful with the hot glue gun, as it may melt the foam. Let the glue set and that's it! Your custom photo booth frame is ready! :)
If all the above is a bit too much for you, and you just don't have the time, be sure to check out our other blog below, which is much easier and you can easily order your own custom photo booth frame prop!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
Tags: Custom photo booth props, photo booth rental San Marcos
If you're planning your wedding, in Austin, San Antonio, central Texas, or anywhere, then you're most likely very overwhelmed, right now! We know exactly how stressful wedding planning can be. There are so many details to think about and so many details NO ONE ever thinks about! :( Luckily, Jason & Diana, of Austin's Best DJs, are certified wedding/event planners and we're here to help!
Here is our free, sample wedding day timeline template. This template is perfect for anyone planning their wedding, whether you're a DIY bride, or you just want a little more control over your wedding day and let's be honest, who doesn't? :) Using this template helps you easily plan your day of timeline. If you're a DIY bride, this is a great starter template. If you already booked a planner or day-of-coordinator, this will help him or her get a better idea of your wedding day vision!
All you have to do is download the file below and enter the details specific to your wedding. This is a general template and not every detail is included, since each wedding may have different details; however, this is a great template to start with!
If you're reading this, you're most likely planning your wedding, quinceanera, party or event, and most likely in the Austin, San Antonio or central Texas area. As you already know, having a wedding or event is expensive! So, here's a few tips to save you some time and money!
Make a Playlist
Playlists are easy to make on iTunes, Windows Media Player, Spotify, or whichever player you use. Create a list of the songs you want to hear during your event and label it for whichever moment you'll play it, such as: Cocktail Hour, Prelude, Dinner, etc. Be sure to create the list for a little longer than your planned time, to allow for wiggle room. For example, if you plan for an hour cocktail hour, make this list for an hour and 15 minutes, just in case it takes a little longer than you anticipated, to take pictures. Do this for any time of the night, since most often, your evening will not go exactly as planned. Always allow a 15 minute window. Sometimes people may eat slower, speeches may last longer, more people may arrive than you planned for, which causes dinner to last longer, etc.
How to Use it
Making a playlist is the easy part. Now, you'll need a way for it to be heard. If you want to save money, find someone to bring a small PA setup, or rent one. We often refer our clients to Rock N Roll Rentals, located in Austin, TX. Here's a link to their wedding PA systems: http://rocknrollrentals.com/t-WeddingEventPackages.aspx
We've been a customer with Rock n Roll Rentals for over a decade. They have great products and the staff will show you how to hook up everything, if you ask!
Once you have a portable speaker or PA, you'll need to get the correct wires to hook up your laptop, or even phone, to your powered speaker.You can ask the Rock n Roll team for the correct wires, or you can easily order a 3.5 mm to RCA cable, 3.5 mm to 1/4" cable, or 3.5 mm to XLR cable. Here's a link to some of the wires we use, on Amazon:
3.5 mm to RCA
3.5 mm to XLR
The smaller, 3.5 mm headphone plug will connect to your phone or laptop, and the other end (RCA, 1/4 " or XLR) will connect to the speaker input. Once it's hooked up, simply power on the speaker, adjust the volume, and you're good to go! Keep in mind, prelude, cocktail hour, or dinner music doesn't need to be super loud, so you won't need to rent a huge, super loud speaker. Any 200 watt (or more) speaker should work, depending on the size of the area where you'll need music.
How You Save
When you use your own playlist for prelude, cocktail hour, or dinner (or all 3), you eliminate the need for a DJ/band to play the music for you! Ironically, I'm telling you how to spend less on hiring a DJ. :) We're very open and honest with our clients and we want to give you great advice that is useful, too. Even if it means we may make less at your event. If you use your own playlist for these moments, you'll only need to hire the DJ for the dance portion of your event. So if your event is 5 ours, and 2.5 hours is for ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner, then you'll only need the DJ for 2.5 hours, versus 5 hours!
We hope you find this useful. Feel free to email us and we're always happy to help, even if you're not our customer! :)
- Austin's Best DJs Team
Wedding & Event Planning Tips - Written By Certified Wedding/Event Planners!
We've taken our decades of experience and compiled it into a few helpful articles, to help you plan your wedding or event!
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