Broke-Ass Tag: wedding vendor


Real Bride Elissa: Putting Together the Wedding Puzzle

Love must be in the air: Between my graduate school cohort, the assistant lecturers with whom I share an office, and my Facebook news feed, I think I’ve seen about 10 engagements, six weddings, three babies, and one vow renewal in the last month alone. All this love and excitement lately has me feeling a little nostalgic; as a person who had a Pinterest board full of ideas (and even a Save the Date design) well before my actual engagement, I thought I was ready. to. go. once I had that ring on my finger. Even at the fancy dinner my brand new fiancé treated me to the evening after our engagement, visions of cake tasting and sunset ceremonies were dancing through my head. I couldn’t even look at the menu, I was so wrapped up in potential dates and venues. “Babe,” I remember him saying, as he stretched his hand across the table to hold mine, “we’ve got plenty of time for that. Let’s focus on how amazing our lives are right NOW.”

The day after that, we had brunch with some recently married friends. After the ooh-ing and aww-ing over our engagement story, the first thing out of their mouths was this: “Just take some time and BE ENGAGED. Don’t even start thinking about the wedding for at least a few more weeks.” If I hadn’t heard it the first time, it definitely sunk in the second. For the next few weeks, anytime someone pried me for details about the wedding, I’d tell them that “Your guess is as good as mine! Right now we’re just enjoying this time.” Though a few people looked surprised, most agreed that was wise.

I didn’t realize how much I’d appreciate that advice until I officially got started with planning. I got overwhelmed pretty quickly; I didn’t have specifics in mind, and was just reaching out willy-nilly to venues and vendors I liked, with basic questions like “How much for a wedding sometime in May?” I think I got on the bad side of one caterer, as I didn’t have a solid date, didn’t have a number of guests, and hadn’t a clue what I wanted on the menu. Each email response got further and further apart, and eventually he just stopped answering my questions altogether. The first few venues I emailed astounded me with their price quotes, to where I was convinced that a big-city venue could not be had for under $5,000. That led to a lot of stress about my budget, until I realized that while I had a decent strategy in collecting quotes from a variety of vendors, I was thinking about it all wrong. Even if a place or vendor seemed a little out of reach, it was worth at least checking their price and availability; once I knew what I could get for $5k, I’d see what I could get for $4k, and then $3k, and then $2k, etc. When my results stopped coming anywhere close to my vision, I knew I had established my range and could really focus my search. I wouldn’t have appreciated how amazing my final choices were if I hadn’t done so much research (and gone through so many letdowns in the process).

I started researching in the spring of 2014. Since it had to be a summer wedding due to my school schedule, many venues were already booked up through Fall 2015, on top of the crazy prices! Once I actually started finding vendors I liked, I quickly realized that the venue was the linchpin of all my planning — the style of the venue would influence my dress, the decorations, the theme of the paper goods, even the meal. And once we found our perfect venue, it even changed our wedding date, based upon its availability. Once we had that though, everything else fell into place. I now had a base for my budget, I was able to narrow down vendors within a certain mile radius of the venue, and could easily envision the style and mood I wanted my wedding to have. And surprise, I didn’t end up using a single idea I’d pinned to my wedding board before I got engaged. Now that I had my fiancé’s input and started thinking in real numbers, in real time, my REAL wedding took on a whole new life.

So now that I’m one of those recently married people, if I had to give my own advice to the newly-engaged, it would be this:

  • Don’t start planning your wedding right away. Take a week, take a month, take six! Talk about how excited you are spend your lives together, not about how you’re going to spend one particular day. Enjoy this warm, fuzzy feeling, all of the good wishes, and some free dessert when you go out to dinner (photo evidence below).
  • When you do get going, quotes are your friend. No one is judging you if you ask for a quote. Even if you don’t have any information at all yet, pick a few reasonable dates and numbers and see what you’re dealing with (and then thank the vendor for their time). Reach out to anyone and everything that tickles your fancy, and even some that don’t for comparison. Once you have a basic idea of what things are going to cost, start putting together the puzzle pieces until you find a combination that fits. And just like you start puzzles with the corners, officially begin your wedding puzzle by locking in that venue.
  • And finally, don’t get wrapped up in the wedding you thought you were going to have! Especially if that wedding came entirely from pictures you’ve seen on social media and wedding blogs. Together with your fiance, pick a few key priorities (e.g. photography, food, wine), then let your wedding grow organically from your everyday passions, and even the reality checks you encounter along the way. My mantra is “Everything happens for a reason,” and this was never proved to me more than during wedding planning.
Elissa Stooker
  • 11/24

    Lethal Rhythms, Atlanta DJ

    Lethal Rhythms, Atlanta DJ

    Hey everyone! I may be a Mrs. now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look back and help guide y’all on your bride-to-be journeys. And one major component of any wedding is … the music!

    When Jersey and I began looking for an Atlanta DJ, we were a bit befuddled at first: A) there are SO MANY; B) each one comes with a price tag that may or may not have you quivering in your garter. Because, whoa, the price tags can be steep. So what I’d like to do is break down what we did and the end result.

    Bottom line: Our chosen DJ was the amazing Atlanta-based Lethal Rhythms. 


    How did we find them? Brides and Grooms out there, do your research. Go to trusted wedding websites that offer reviews and rankings for your area. Read the testimonials and take them to heart. If you find one that has both a great ranking AND glowing reviews, chances are you’ve got a winner. We reached out to Lethal Rhythms and were nothing but pleased with their interactions with us and willingness to be flexible with our needs.

    What do you do once you’ve picked them? MEET with them, in person if at all possible. You need to know that your DJ is a good fit, personality-wise and that they are willing to listen to your desires and stick with them! Our DJ hailed from Jersey, so hello! we knew it would be a great fit for our musical style — Fun-Pop-Dance-meets-Latin-hip-hop. Why be normal?  But we were also impressed that their CEO, Joel Rabe, attended the first meeting as well. It showed true investment in us and it went a long way to making us feel good about our choice.

    Why are DJs so expensive? As we planned our wedding, it became very clear that DJs have their work cut out for them! Think about it. All the equipment: speakers, sound boards, lighting, cables, microphones. That’s a lot. Not to mention talent – DJing is an art form and a DJ worth their weight will know exactly how to play to the crowd and keep the party rocking. Not only with the music, but the emcee duties! They must know how to guide the crowd every step of the way and make sure there are no awkward pauses or confusion about what’s going on. Our DJ, Robb Batts, did an amazing job across the board in keeping the party flowing smoothly.  Lastly, if you want music in your ceremony and it’s at the same location, the DJ has to do double-duty! Extra speakers, wireless mics for the officiant, logistics if the ceremony is in a different location than the reception and more songs to handle. I give them mad respect and it makes sense that DJs/music are often one of the biggest costs in a wedding.

    Can you negotiate price? Hi. We wouldn’t be Broke-Ass Brides if we didn’t at least try! If Jersey and I learned anything while planning a wedding, it’s that YES, everything is negotiable. Even if you don’t score a big markdown, you may wind up getting extra bells and whistles added to the existing price for free. Or, another option is to ask for a percentage discount for paying in full, up front. The bottom line is that any great business person will know that the happier you are, the better for them. And these guys were no exception. We were able to get additional uplighting and a very respectable overall price, just by asking the questions. As a result, we were very, very happy with the outcome. It’s a win-win!

    How do you pick your songs? Sit down with your soon-to-be-spouse and make a list of must-haves and must-NOT-haves. Think about all the pieces of the day: pre-ceremony, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, reception, exit music … it’s a lot, but just tackle it one at a time. We also included on our RSVP cards a line that said, “I’m most likely to dance if you play ________.” That resulted in some hilarious entries (like “Baby Got Back”), but also songs we’d missed!  As for relaying your choices to the DJ? Most likely your DJ has their own database or listing of the songs they can provide. Lethal Rhythms has a HUGE database of songs to choose from and it provided about 98% of the songs we wanted. And for those we couldn’t find in their database, all we had to do was upload them to Dropbox and share the folder with them. Easy-peasy.

    So how did our big day go? Couldn’t be happier. They arrived exactly on time and everything went off without a hitch! We received tons of compliments from our guests about the music execution. Everything flowed, the songs that we chose for the ceremony and reception were great and fit our style. And at the reception, if there were requests, DJ Robb accommodated them. Don’t tell anyone, but I did The Wobble at my own wedding. Hey, if the crowd wants it, a bride’s gotta do what a bride’s gotta do!  Our DJ Robb and Lethal Rhythms knocked it out of the wedding park. If you’re in the Atlanta area and are looking for a rockin’ DJ, my highest recommendation goes to Lethal Rhythms.


    Lethal Rhythms, Atlanta DJ

    What tips would YOU offer in picking a DJ? Do tell.

    Till next time,

  • 12/24

    Editor's Note: Today, Carrie is dishing about the wedding photographer that made her change her mind about hiring a pro. I just wanted to take this opportunity to shout this from the rooftops - a professional wedding photographer is ALWAYS worth the splurge. (You'll notice I said a "professional" wedding photographer. While hiring a newbie or handing the task over your cousin Buzz might save…

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    As excited as I am to continue the Broke Ass Guide to Wedding Friend-ors, I'm hesitant about writing this post. The Broke-Ass Bride isn't that kind of wedding website, the kind that yucks your yum and seeks to instill fear in the hearts of engaged people so they try to spend the anxiety away. But we DO want you to be as happy as possible…

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