My friend gave me a full (unsolicited) report. She said that the venue was gorgeous and it was obvious that the majority of the couple's budget was spent on the venue.
But other than that she said the rest of the reception couldn't match the venue.
It was hot and there was no air conditioning. Windows were open and with no breeze, it became stifling hot. The couple had two industrial sized fans there but my friend was seated away from the fans.
While the wedding was at 6 and the reception started at 6:30, there was no food. They had some snack mix and two cakes. The bride and groom went off with their photographer to snap some photos and the DJ never told the guests they could help themselves to the snack mix. Finally, a few brave (and hungry) souls took it upon themselves to grab some snack mix and weren't told to NOT eat it so everyone got up and got themselves some peanuts and pretzels.
My friend said there were a few technical glitches from the DJ but nothing earth-shattering. She said that he never said anything on the mic.
As everyone sat in the heat munching on their snack mix, the time marched on until 8:00 when the photographer and wedding party finally finished up. By this point my friend was starving. Her husband told her they were stopping at Burger King on the way home.
The DJ announced the wedding party and the bride and groom had their first dance. Then the bride and her father danced. Then the DJ clammed back up and played music that my friend had never heard. She said it was alternative music because that's what the bride liked but it was newer stuff that my friend wasn't familiar with at all.
At 9:00, the bride and groom cut the cake and everyone had a piece of cake. My friend said nobody danced (while they were there) and that after a slice of cake, they left to go find someplace to eat dinner as they were sweaty and starving.
Sooo ... what could have made this better?
Like my friend said, it was obvious that the majority of her budget was spent on the venue which ...again ... was beautiful. But nothing else complemented that venue. Everything else suffered. It's like going to a beautiful restaraunt with a nice view that has bad food, bad service, broken air conditioning and watered down drinks while the manager sits in his office and doesn't care what's going on in the dining area.
None of the vendors were professionals. The photographer was a friend of the family and the DJ didn't seem to have much wedding experience. He sat at a card table and played on his computer rather than spend his time trying to engage the guests and build a rapport with them that would pay off later in the evening.
I say all this so I can say this: We all have budgets that we have to stay on. but it would help if at least one vendor could be a professional. Whether it's a caterer, a photographer or a DJ. Professional vendors have done enough weddings where they can tell when a reception is heading south and they will normally pitch in and use their expertise to get the party on track. That's why you hire a professional ... or as many professionals as you can hire! A professional photographer would have recognized that it was a hot evening, there wasn't much food to eat and it was their job to get the couple BACK into the venue so that a party could begin. A professional DJ would have checked with the photographer after 30 minutes passed to see what the problem was. Once they saw that the photographer was in over their head, the DJ could then work on something to keep the guests occupied. A professional caterer ... well ... I love them but I don't know much they could do to keep people happy for 90 minutes in the heat.
You may not hire me and I'm okay with that. If you don't, usually someone else will. But make sure that you do hire at least one professional or better yet ... spread the wealth. If your budget is $10,000, don't spend $9,000 on the venue. Again, I'll take you back to that seaside restaraunt with the beautiful view. If all they're serving you is peanuts, you're not coming back. But if you go to Outback down the block, and have a nice sirloin with a wonderful server and a yummy dessert, you will go back. Sure you give up the nice view but everything else more than made up for it.
The key here is to take all the elements of your wedding day and prioritize them. Example:
... Et Cetera
And then budget wisely.
And you will have a wedding day to remember!
(Editor's Note: Naturally, we feel entertainment should be #1 on everyone's list since that's what's going to keep your guests at the party longest but didn't want to look like jerks for suggesting that.)