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1: The Best Kept Secret

What would you say was the most important item in your budget? Your bridal gown, the flowers, the venue hire, the food, the chair covers, the favours? The average cost of a wedding varies, so it is little wonder that so many figures are banded about. What is the average cost of a wedding in 2013? Recently I have seen figures suggested for an average wedding of £10,000, £15,000 and £20,000, but who wants an average wedding?

No matter what your budget may be, it is important that you spend your money wisely. These days there is increasing pressure to go one step further, and to out-do, or be better than, the previous wedding you may have attended.

Many of today’s weddings concentrate on “the look”, and a great deal of the budget is spent on venue dressing, especially as more and more innovations are being offered by way of decorations and lighting. There are more and more service providers clambering for a slice of the budget, and all of them suggest you must have the latest this, that or the other. It’s very easy for the budget to run out of control, and to end up with money spent on items which will actually have very little impact on your guests’ enjoyment.

Take a look at these statistics.

A Typical wedding budget

Before the Wedding

The above percentages are taken from real Brides after following “advice” from wedding planners, venue event coordinators and service providers. This represents 90% of the budget. The other 10% was spent on other items, including the honeymoon. The biggest slice of the cake went to the reception venue and catering.

Below is another break-down of how real Brides wished they had spent their money after their wedding day. You will note that the reference to entertainment is the largest percentage appreciated or remembered by the guests. Entertainment includes things like string quartets for ceremony music, piano players for drinks receptions, wedding singers, Bands, DJs, chocolate fountains, casino tables, photo booths, etc etc.

After the vows

Change of perception

After the Wedding

When surveyed this is what Brides thought;

72 % of Brides said they would have spent more time choosing their wedding entertainment,

Almost 100% said they would have spent more of their budget on entertainment,

During wedding planning, Brides said that their highest priority is their wedding attire, followed by the reception venue and the catering. Reception entertainment is among the least of their priorities.

Within one week of the reception, 78% said they would have made entertainment their highest priority,

65% of couples who chose a Band to entertain at their wedding said, if they had to do it again, they would hire a Disc Jockey,

Entertainment is 5% of the wedding budget, but 38% of the guests will remember the entertainment more than anything else.

When guests were asked what they remembered most about a wedding after the Bride’s gown and the wedding ceremony, 81% said entertainment!

The statistics shown, and mentioned above, were produced by, and the copyright is held by ©USA publications and ©St Louise Bride & Groom magazine. Sources include ©Simmons; ©USA Today; ©National Bridal Service; ©The Knot; ©Bride Magazine

I appreciate these are American statistics; however my own research, and personal experience as a wedding entertainer, is that there is no difference in the UK. To all intents and purposes, a wedding, especially one held in a multi-chain hotel, is little more than a very expensive meal. A wedding reception should be so much more than a fine meal.


A good friend of mine, wedding entertainer DJ/MC trainer and mentor of many wedding professionals, Mark Ferrell [] believes;

“A talented wedding entertainer is vital to the success of a wedding reception because a wedding reception is a party – and a party is, by definition, a function of entertainment. The duty of a qualified entertainer such as a wedding DJ/ MC is not only to keep guests engaged, included, and having fun, but also to capture imaginations, touch hearts, and skilfully remind them of the true meaning and purpose of the event.”

Bride and Groom with Stuart Maclennan

Bride and Groom with Stuart Maclennan

So there you have it in a nutshell. The biggest kept secret in the wedding industry is that entertainment is vital to the success of a wedding reception. Yet official advice and information places this way down the list of priorities. Why is this? Why should such an obvious fact be overlooked by so many advisors? In my opinion it’s because other service providers seldom see the whole picture. They concentrate on their product or service. More importantly they do not attend the wedding, and even if they do, they are not present for the entire event.

Think about this for a moment; most of the wedding budget is spent on presentation. The “look” of the venue, the table decorations, the flowers, colour schemes etc. How much importance is placed on the way you and your guests will “feel” on your wedding day? How much emotion will there be in the room? Will your guests laugh? Will they cry?

Entertainment is subjective and entertainment takes many forms. A wedding reception can often last twelve hours or more. Choosing the right entertainment to suit your style and personality is not easy. Maintaining interest and enjoyment throughout your wedding ceremony, drinks reception, wedding breakfast and on into the evening can be daunting. I don’t wish to be patronising. If the industry is withholding essential facts, then you, as a Bride-to-be, need help, and finding the right help is not easy.

Now before I go on, let me make one point very clear. Some venues, management and staff, and many wedding planners and coordinators, understand the importance of entertainment. Alas they are the exception to the rule. Most do not. In fact many are so stuck in their ways that any mention of new ideas, interaction or bringing in a specialist wedding DJ/Party Host will be like a foreign language to them.

First dance

First dance with Steve Mitchell

This book will illustrate current thinking, and will provide typical examples, of what actually takes place at hundreds of wedding receptions up and down the UK every week. I will explain what is on offer, and more importantly, I will demonstrate a better way, and the reasoning behind the emergence of a new breed of wedding entertainer.

Over the last ten years a quiet revolution has taken place. You will have noted from the previous statistics that the majority of Brides believe that a Specialist Wedding DJ would have been the best option for their wedding entertainment, yet they chose not to employ one. Hindsight has proved to be perfect vision. Why wasn’t the DJ an obvious choice?

Upon reflection I can see why a specialist wedding DJ would not be your first consideration. A DJ just plays music right? How would a DJ be able to engage with my guests and keep them entertained throughout the day? You only need a DJ for the dancing later in the day don’t you? Well yes, that used to be the case, but in the last few years the Specialist Wedding DJ has evolved into something more than just music. He has re-trained and is using his knowledge of all genres of music, his public speaking ability, his technical expertise, and experience of attending hundreds of weddings, to create a new role as a Specialist Wedding DJ, Master of Ceremonies and Party Host.

All over the country, Brides are being empowered to sit down with this new breed of wedding entertainer; together they can create a fun, unique and memorable wedding reception, which their guests will be talking about long after the event.

June Cecilia  Party Host

June Cecilia
Party Host

A wedding ceremony, and the reception which follows, should be a celebration of the marriage. In my opinion, the joy and fun should start with the arrival of the Bride, and continue throughout the day and beyond. Why is it, that sometimes, the loudest noise in the room at a wedding breakfast is the clatter of the cutlery? How come we have to wait to the end of the meal, before we hear the toasts and speeches which contain the love, emotion and humour which touch the hearts and minds of everyone in the room?

In the rear of this book, and on the dedicated web site, you will find a list of suitably trained Party Hosts. They would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and be given the chance to demonstrate exactly how they can make a difference to your special day. Please pay particular attention to their testimonials.

However before you go thumbing through the back pages, let me take some time to examine what you, as a Bride may experience in the planning stages of your wedding. Let’s take a look at what venues and event planners are saying, and what that actually means in reality. What follows is, in my experience, typical but not always the case. Some venues and planners care about entertainment and understand the importance of it, alas many do not.

At the very least, at the end of the day, reading this book and being armed with its contents, will enable and empower you, to ask searching questions of your venue and service providers.

Typical set-up

Harry Kilb set-up

Forewarned is forearmed as they say. Good venues will be open-minded and flexible with their clients. Others may be more rigid and totally oblivious to some of the subject matter in this book. In the past I have struggled to convince venue management that the concepts in this book will work, and that wedding receptions will be so much better for it. I’m happy to report that after the event, the management were convinced and not only liked what they saw, but positively encouraged their clients to use my services.

In the remaining pages of this book, wedding day secrets are revealed, together with hints and tips for a great wedding. I hope you find them as enlightening and rewarding as my Brides did.

This is how my clients remembered their wedding day. Is this how you would like to remember yours?

Karen & Peter Woodall

“From our first contact with you, through to the last thing on Saturday evening, you could not have done more to ensure the success of our special day. The music at all stages of the event was exactly right. The changing moods of the day’s ceremony, through to the evening disco, were all captured perfectly. The formal and informal parts of the day were handled expertly and with good humour by Derek while Carol worked tirelessly, and with tremendous patience to ensure that the day went smoothly. As a consequence, we have been overwhelmed by the comments of guests, both at the event, and subsequently, many of whom have said categorically, that it was the best “do” they have ever been to”.

How to spend wisely

Something you should know

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