12 Common Northern Virginia Wedding Questions

We’ve provided DJ and Photo Booth services to many couples in both Northern Virginia and Washington DC. Nearly all of them were planning their first wedding. For many, just getting started can be somewhat daunting. Here are 12 of the most common questions our couples have asked and our take on them.

Q: How much does a wedding cost?

A: While it this is likely not the answer you are looking for it is the truth. No two weddings are alike, and no two couples are alike. While this is not the precise answer you were likely hoping for, I am happy that there is such variety in weddings and in the couples, we celebrate with.

We provide DJ Services to two markets. The Northern VA | Washington DC area is one market. Looking at statistical data for 2018, the average wedding cost was just under $37,000. We also provide DJ Services to the Central PA market and to the Frederick MD area as well. The average wedding cost in those areas for 2018 was just under $31,000.

Our suggestion is that the couples come up with an amount that they feel is reasonable for their market. Use that number to design the wedding that is perfect for you and includes the items that are most important to the two of you.   

Q: Where should I focus my budget?

A: The answer to this question depends upon what is most important to you as a couple. Do you want amazing décor? If you do, then make finding the designer that can create the look that you have imagined a priority. Do you want a raging dance party your guests won’t want to see end? Put your money towards a spectacular DJ and bar list!

Before putting together your budget, sit down with your fiancé, and parents and discuss how you envision the day going and think about the elements that are most important to bringing your vision to life.

Q: Do we have to ____________?

A: The answer is usually no. You call the shots and can make the wedding exactly as you want it to be! You do not need anyone’s permission to go off-script. This is your moment. Of course, you want to create a great experience for the guests, but you need to make sure that it is meaningful and enjoyable for you.

Q: How do I sort through all the information that's out there?

A: The moment you get engaged, you may find herself surrounded by well-meaning friends and family who are suddenly experts in wedding traditions and etiquette. You may feel overwhelmed by the (sometimes, contradictory) advice and find that some of it may conflict with their own ideas of how you have envisioned your wedding day.

Stay true to yourself. Wedding guests know you, either as individuals or as a couple, and if the wedding reflects who you are, it will brim with love and charm.

Q: How do we find the best Northern Virginia venue?

A: There are so many beautiful venues in Virginia and Washington DC. I suggest that you start your search online. There are plenty of websites such as “The Knot” and “Wedding Wire” that will provide much of the basic information such as maximum number of guests and often general pricing or and average cost.

In addition to these national websites, there are many venues that you will not find listed on these sites. Searching Facebook is a great way to find venues that may not have a website yet. This is particularly true for Farm/Barn Venues that have gone from being active farms to part-time or full-time wedding venues.  really special.

Q: Should we offer our guests an open bar?

A: You know your crowd best, and if they are not much of a drinking group, then it is understandable that you may be hesitant to invest in an open bar. However, even people who don't drink on a normal basis are apt to want to enjoy a glass of wine or champagne at a wedding, and it's a generous gesture. If budget is an issue, consider an open bar for the cocktail reception only, or assign a dollar amount that you are comfortable with on a hosted bar. Once that number is reached, guests can start picking up their tabs.

Q: What elements will make the biggest impact on ambiance?

A: Lighting is an important factor in setting the mood for your event. When in doubt, opt for 'soft amber' bulbs; they're classic and flattering. Candles are a part of the lighting design and even just a few votive candles on a dining table can make all the difference.

Nothing will transform a venue more than lighting! The number of options is incredible and make differences that you can see immediately. The first thing that most think of in terms of wedding lighting is uplighting. There are many other options that will make an impact. Among the offerings are pin spots to show off the wedding cake and centerpieces you have spent so much time and money on. Ceiling wash which will bath the venue in color. Dancing Under the Stars which will create a nighttime starlit sky for you and your guests to dance under.

This video illustrates both uplighting as well as a ceiling wash effect.

Q: How do I form a guest list?

A: We recommend reviewing your guest list several times after you think it's final. You don't need to invite everyone on your high school sports team, and the same goes for work friends: you may find yourself in a different job during the planning process. Make sure that your list is full of relationships that you value now and will value later. Those are the people you'll want to take part in your day. And don't forget the cardinal rule: once you send a save the date, the guest is invited to the wedding, no questions asked. If you're on the fence about anyone, better to hold the save the date and send an invitation only later, once you are 100 percent sure.

Q: How do I know what to do next?

A: When working with a planner, rely on their experience to help guide you through the process. They will help you outline the decisions that need to be made, and in what order. If you do not have a planner to guide you, there are many resources and lists online that will help you to know which steps to tackle next.

Q: How can I predict how many guests will RSVP 'yes'?

A: There is always the tried—and mostly true—'two-thirds of the invited guests will attend' rule, but I have quickly learned that this theory can be very wrong. When planning your list, feel free to use this as guidance, but ALWAYS be prepared to host a full guest list, just in case. If you are unable to host the full list for some reason, you may want to re-evaluate your numbers!

Q: We want to stock the bar ourselves to save money. Will it?

A: By the time you buy all the mixers, liquors, beers, fruits, ice, and tools, you'll spend more money then an average per person bar cost. Plus, you'll be burdened with setting it up, and—not to mention—the liability should any guests over serve themselves (assuming you also forgo any bartenders).

Q: Is there a venue that will let us dance until 2 a.m.?

A: Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and, understandably, you want it to last forever. But all good things, even weddings, must come to an end. Six to seven hours is plenty of time to wine and dine your guests and dance the night away (start your event by 5 p.m. and have it end by midnight). The affair should end with a bang (and with your guests wanting more), rather than with a fizzle. Plus, you'll spend extra money on overtime staffing fees so that your handful of raging friends can stay out late, and that's just not worth it!