wedding lighting

Planning to DIY some things for your Washington DC Wedding? Here are some things to do and a few to don’t.

As a Washington DC Wedding DJ | Photo Booth | Event Lighting services company, I’ve seen many ways that bridal couples have gone about reducing the costs or to add personal touches to their weddings. One of the most common ways to accomplish this and something that has always been “in” is to do certain aspects of the ceremony and reception themselves.

It is likely that every item or service has seen couples do it themselves. But, in my opinion not everything should be. At their best, homemade or do it yourself items are activities are personal and unique. They have their own character and make your wedding different from any other.

At worst they are tacky, sub par, and considered the “cheap way out” by your guests, some of whom may have traveled at a significant expense to share and celebrate this day with you. The last thing you want to do is lessen their enjoyment of the moment or leave them with a bad memory of this event.

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How do you decide what items to do yourself?

I think that as you think about the day and all of the things that go into it, there are many things that you can do to either save money or make the wedding unique. Whatever the motivation is, there are projects large and small that you can undertake.

The things that I would not suggest that you do yourself are those that require a specific skillset of a great deal of experience. Another would be things that will impact the comfort or enjoyment of your guests if it doesn’t come out well.

I would personally ask myself “What is the worst that can happen if I cannot pull this off or if it doesn’t come out right?” To me the worst that can happen is that I have to live without it being a part of my day. I choose to live without it because I don’t like the result or I don’t have the time or the budget to buy it or have someone else do it for me.

WEDDING DIY DO’S

The Invitations

Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to make high-quality wedding invitations yourself. There’s no limit to what you can do! There are a lot of easy-to-follow templates online. Making the invitations yourself is also a great way to show your guests that you care. With a small enough guest list, or enough determination, you can personalize each invitation with a fun little note. Have them printed at a local print shop or find a place online!

Let’s be honest, most wedding invitations end up in the same place, in the trash can. If it were my wedding I would craft a few invitations for the most special guests. These are the guests that

you really don’t need an RSVP from. They have always been there. For them this isn’t just an event invitation. This is a milestone. Create something personal that they can scrapbook.

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For the rest of the guests, make it easy and inexpensive. Try Evite, Green Envelope, or one of the other online wedding invitation creation services. Many offer cool features such as drive time to the venue so they know what time to leave their house. Your guests won’t realize you are saving money. They will simply think that you embrace technology.

The Centerpieces

The table centerpieces at your Washington DC wedding reception are a great way to bring out your creative side. They don’t have to be very complicated—in fact, its better that they’re not. An overly large centerpiece impedes dinner conversation. It can also block their view of special dances and other planned wedding activities.

Let Google and Pintrest be your guide and you will find loads of ideas to create the ambiance that fits your personality.

At one recent wedding the bride and groom were known to be bookworms by all of their guests. There centerpiece on each table were short stacks of antique looking books with colorful ribbon serving as the book strap and a few tea lights.

The Favors

Making your own wedding favors is a good way to save money and add a personal touch. Let the wedding favor tell your love story. Perhaps give guests some of your favorite candy? It won’t be too expensive to buy pretty bags and ribbon, and there are an endless number of gifts for you to fill the bags with. Don’t be afraid to get sentimental!

The Place Cards

Decorating your own place cards can be really fun, especially if you have a themed wedding. If you’re having a beach wedding, the place cards could be disguised as fish in the sea. If it’s a more elegant wedding, feel free to have some fun with the calligraphy!

Signage

Signs are another great and easy way to get creative while adding a personal touch. You could do anything from a classy framed blackboard to the ring bearer wearing a sign that says “Has anybody seen the rings?” There’s no end to the ways that you can demonstrate YOU as a couple through words.

WEDDING DIY DON’TS

The Photos

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Unless you have a friend who’s an actual wedding photographer, I would hire a professional to do this. There are a lot of photographers out there who are hobbyists more than anything, and this is one of the most important days of your life. You’re not going to want to remember it with blurred or off-center photos. Photographing an event is harder than you think, so please hire a professional.

My mother takes LOTS of pictures! Whenever she is near us and her grand children that camera is attached to her hand. The difference between her and professional photographer is that my mom takes few GREAT pictures. On the most important day of your life, you want quantity AND quality!

The Cake

This is another one of those situations where people think, “I’ve made a cake before. Why pay for someone to do it?” I get it, I do. But unless you or a relative owns a bakery, I don’t recommend it. It’s so easy to mess up a cake, and so hard to fix it. They’re impossible to transport, and who actually knows how to professionally decorate them?

The Food

If the biggest meal you’ve ever cooked was Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t want to try cooking for 100+ people. And if it’s not you, you really don’t want to ask your poor family to do it. A professional catering company has the kitchen and experience to cook for that many people. Let them do it. Your mom may make the best roast beef known to man, but she may not be able to make 30 of them at once.

The Music/Entertainment

In this day in age, it’s easy to think “Why do I need a DJ? I have Spotify!” The thing about Spotify is that it can’t read a room. If the playlist is bombing, it won’t change. And someone still needs to stop the music and make announcements. They need to change the music. They need to make the playlist. They need to…be a DJ and MC. Some people ask their friends to do this, but it’s not really fair to ask them miss out on the wedding. Either they have to be a great DJ by missing out on all the activities and socializing, or a horrible DJ who drinks and hangs out with all their friends. See the problem?

Our team at Perfect Harmony Entertainment does far more for our couples than provide great music and fun activities such as our photo booth. Our focus is to help our couples and corporate clients create the events they have envisioned. We do that in part through offering tips and advice and sharing our event experience.

Music serves as the driving force behind an unforgettable wedding experience! Perfect Harmony Entertainment provides our couples and clients with exemplary service to help them create fantastic events!

If you are planning a wedding or corporate event in our service area, we would love the opportunity to learn more about your plans. Our DJ’s routinely travel to all areas within a 90-minute drive from Washington DC.

We offer wedding DJ | Photo Booth | Lighting services to clients from Washington DC to Frederick and Baltimore MD, as well as wedding DJ’s for couples celebrating in Lancaster and Harrisburg PA.

Our demand is as large as our service area! If you would like to check our availability for your date or chat about your event, click the link below or simply send us a text. 

A Liberty Mountain Resort Wedding | Drew + Lewis

Our DJ Service in Harrisburg PA allows us the opportunity to vist some of the best event venues in neighboring areas such as Frederick MD, Leesburg VA, and Washington DC! As they say though, there is not place like home and the familiarity of venues such as Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield PA

The John was awesome! Very professional and attentive! He did an excellent job at reading the crowd and knowing what songs to play. He was enthusiastic with great energy. He was the perfect amount involved, not too much, not too little! Amazing job in Fairfield PA was the venue of choice of the new Mr. & Mrs. Holder’s. Their wedding reception took place in the Alpine Room where a stunning stone fireplace serves as a focal centerpiece. The appearance was further accented by the white uplighting.

The Grand Entrance was made to a Jackie Wilson classic “You Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher”. As the bridal party formed a semi circle around the dance floor, the couple continued the classic music vibe for their first dance. The song of choice was “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce.

As a lover of stories and story telling, one of my favorite parts of a wedding reception is the toasts.  The Best Man Collin had all the guests laughing as explained how his bond with Lewis had become brother like and, as he got to know Drew she became like a sister. That “brother | sister” dynamic could seem a bit odd.

Drew’s father Mike moved the crowd with stories of Drew’s childhood and the differences between raising a daughter versus a son and the respect he has gained for Lewis who had become a member of the family well before this day. Mike’s toast was punctuated by an impromptu “phone call from one Sean Spicer (former White House Press Secretary).

Once the dance floor was opened the action never stopped! Drew and Lewis selected a variety of genres that kept all the guests engaged and on the dance floor. Proving that you don’t have to stick with any of the typical “200 Best Songs to Play” or other such list you will find online, tunes such as “Everybody Needs Somebody” by The Blues Brothers kept the dance floor hopping.

John was awesome! Very professional and attentive!

He did an excellent job at reading the crowd and knowing what songs to play. He was enthusiastic with great energy.

He was the perfect amount involved, not too much, not too little!

Amazing job!
Drew C
— The Knot

The newlyweds chose to provide additional entertainment for their guests by adding our photo booth. The booth was a massive hit with the guests using it multiple times until the very end of the evening. Not only did the guests have keepsakes to remember this magnificent event, Drew and Lewis have a treasured keepsake in the inscribed Memory Book.

This was a terrific experience and the icing on the cake were the comments left for me by this incredible couple!

Music serves as the driving force behind an unforgettable wedding experience! Perfect Harmony Entertainment provides our couples and clients with exemplary service to help them create fantastic events!

 If you are planning a wedding or corporate event in our service area, we would love the opportunity to learn more about your plans. Our DJ’s routinely travel to all areas within a 90-minute drive from Chambersburg PA.

This convenient location permits us to offer wedding DJ services to clients from Washington DC to Frederick MD, as well as wedding DJ’s for couples celebrating in Lancaster and Harrisburg PA.

 Our demand is as large as our service area! If you would like to check our availability for your date or chat about your event, click the link below or simply send us a text. 

Lancaster Brides 10 Most Common Wedding Planning Questions

Our mission at Perfect Harmony Entertainment is to help couples and clients create amazing events. As a DJ Service that serves the Lancaster | York | Hershey area, we have a love of music. While that is our forte, our passion is for helping people. We feel that sharing our experience is how we can make a difference so we continue to blog about all aspects of event planning , money saving tips, and any topic that we can think of that might prove helpful.

If you found this blog useful I hope that you will share it with others who may find it helpful as well. If you have any suggestions or comments for future blog posts please let us know!

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 wedding 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.   

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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 all 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 venue?

A: 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. 

There are tons of options that can reduce the venue cost and provide a beautiful photographic backdrop for your wedding. These are places that may not be top of mind. Here are just a few examples that I have personally visited: The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Shippensburg University, The Barn at Norlo Park.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

The Barn at Norlo Park

The Barn at Norlo Park

The Barn at Norlo Park

The Barn at Norlo Park

Q: Should we have 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: 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 than an average per person bar cost. Not only will you typically not save money, it creates yet another item on your to do list.

I am all for saving money and we have several blog posts that offer money saving tips. In this case however not only do you not save money, you create more work for either yourself or whomever you task with doing it.

If you really want to do it yourself and save money, I have seen one way it can be done. In this case the uncle of the bride was a beer and liquor distributor. The price was wholesale saving them about 25% - 30% of the cost. If you “know a guy” you could pull this off.

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

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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 motifs on a dining table can make all the difference.

Uplighting is an easy and inexpensive way to transform the look of the venue and create a wow factor. The versatility and the safety of this type of lighting are two more compelling reasons to consider.

For more on lighting options check out our blog post: Event Lighting Options To Wow Your Guests!

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.

Keep in mind that each guest you add will impact what you can offer to all guests. Did you know that the average per plate cost per guest is $30? Keep in mind, that is the average. The difference in adding a few additional guests can impact your ability to provide a photo booth for guests to enjoy or the accent lighting that will highlight the cake you spent so much time designing.  

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

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 pm 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!