Disclaimer: Ryan Bradshaw has been in the wedding industry for more than 15 years. He’s the founder of RMF Entertainment, one of the most successful wedding DJ companies in the Northwest, and now represents himself in the wedding industry with Bradshaw Media. Punctuation, grammar, and complete sentences aren’t the focus of these blogs. Real content and honest information is the goal. This blog is Ryan’s opinions and his opinions only. These opinions are not the opinions of RMF Entertainment and solely Bradshaw Media. If you disagree that is okay. Authenticity is the end goal as this brand moves forward.
In part 1 of these blogs I covered many topics that gave insight into what I thought would make the perfect wedding. It was an overview of how you can pursue your wedding date with less stress, while also making it one of the best days of your life. These days, families over complicate everything and try to continually mimic what they see others do and what they see online. Part 1 could be summarized in one sentence: Ditch the dumb shit and hire a skilled DJ/MC, a reputable photographer, have good food and drinks, and a venue that doesn’t cut you off before 11pm.
What the hell is this blog about?
It has taken me a while to finish this. I’ve been writing, rewriting, writing some more, erasing, stopping, overthinking, writing…. you get the point. This is part 2 and it’s piggy backing off the first blog I wrote, part 1. I had a hard time narrowing in on what I was trying to get across.
It’s really funny when someone gives honest feedback they tend to come across as “bitchy” or always complaining.
So I decided to include everything I missed in part 1 and be done with these subjects. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point. I’ve been giving my opinions on the importance of a DJ for so long I’m afraid some of you might be getting sick of it. I know that a lot of the stuff I write could rub people the wrong way, but at this point in my career I’m just not worried about that anymore. I care more about getting authentic information out to the public than I do about what people are going to think of me.
My clients hire me because they want the best DJ experience possible, not because I’m the most “professional”.
So this blog is covering taboo topics that are always rearing their ugly head in the wedding industry, but they are harder topics to discuss because I’m going to upset people that I actually really like within this industry as well as maybe future brides that could disagree with me. I’m trying to be my most honest, but I also don’t wanna try to hard to be different. That’s why this blog has taken forever. I just write things on this as they come to my mind, and I didn’t want it to be forced.
One cold hard truth about the growing wedding industry is that more and more vendors are forming cliques like high school girls. It’s becoming like an episode of Valley Girl and people are now teaming up to make sure they get the best of everything all while talking down on others within the industry. It never used to be that way. In fact now you have vendors that literally won’t work a wedding unless other vendors they approve of are working the wedding also. It puts brides and grooms in a tough predicament.
So many vendors are just kissing each other’s asses so that they can book the best weddings.
Look I get it. Why not do that? I tip toed around this industry for years brown nosing and trying my hardest to please everyone. As the industry has grown in Montana, so have the amount of vendors and the fact of the matter is this: It’s not as close knit of a community as it used to be. If you are getting married and looking for the best vendors it’s harder now then ever before to find them.
Longevity is key. If you’re a bride reading this and want to know the 3 best ways to find a vendor that will fit your wedding needs please keep reading. I’m going to give my candid advice and these are merely my opinions. After I give this advice you will see below I tackled 6 topics more directed at brides about to get married that are topics most vendors have opinions on but hardly ever speak up about it. But first…
The 3 most effective ways to determine if a vendor is who they say they are, OR you could say these 3 things are important in deciding if they are the right fit for most brides.
Are they easy to get a hold of
No question one of the sure fire ways to tell if a vendor is all in or not is how easy they are to get a hold of on an email. Notice I said email. The phone doesn’t prove much as we all have cell phones on the hip and answering a call can be deceiving. You can call a vendor one time, they could pick up the phone and you think to yourself they care pretty responsive. I disagree. I get back to brides immediately. I love new clients and love being a part of people’s wedding. When an inquiry comes through my email I’m on it as soon as possible and 90% of the time that means within 24 hours max.
What is really crazy to me is I have a system on how to follow up with people. Most of the time I follow up with a bride before the competitors have even emailed them an initial quote. Brides will respond with “I’m still waiting to hear back from a couple more DJs in town” I literally shake my head every time.. it chaps my ass so bad! I understand wanting to get different pricing, but do you really want to work with someone that takes 5-7 days to send you an initial email when you are offering them a job??? Think about any other job. If a company calls you back after a job interview and you wait 5-7 days to return the call I can almost guarantee you that you aren’t getting the job.
Most likely if they have this habit in the beginning, you will also be dealing with it the entire time you are planning your wedding. Go with the vendor that is the most responsive. It’s worth it every single time. Promise!
Google and WeddingWire
These are still two of the best places on the planet to look for reviews. The reason is both are the hardest to falsify. WeddingWire does a good job with their review system and to leave a review on Google you have to have a Gmail account with them so it’s less likely people are going to just get on and leave false positive reviews. It can still happen and these days it’s hard to say if all reviews are accurate. However, these two are still the best you can get when going off other people’s opinions.
Preferred lists and references
One thing that venues are starting to do more of is create a list of preferred vendors that they enjoy working with. Now I know you might be thinking I’m a walking contradiction because I stated earlier that vendors are forming fun little cliques here and there but this is different. Venues quietly will make a list of the vendors they enjoy working with the most. They will offer these lists to potential brides upon booking their place and brides are able to get an idea of some good vendors to contact. If you shop around to 3 or more venues and the vendors you are looking at show up on all the the venue’s preferred lists, you probable are safe in hiring that vendor if you like them. It’s honestly a sure thing most of the time as venues usually don’t have any reason to play favorites.
Keep in mind that there are some companies that will try to pay their way to be on these lists. I call those companies scrubs. That’s why it’s important to get honest information from the venue itself.
Stirring the Pot
When getting married it’s really hard to navigate through the countless people and possibilities to hire. In fact it can get so overwhelming that couples tend to shut down and even decide to elope. It’s the pressures that one receives from family, friends, and social media sources that make it hard to decide what’s a good fit for your wedding. I think the most important thing to do when you first get engaged is to do nothing at all and just let yourself enjoy the moment. So many brides and couples rush to figure out details that they barely even enjoy the moment itself. There are so many “know it alls” too that can add to the pressures of getting things right.
Relax and enjoy yourself. You only get to do this once… hopefully… and there’s literally no reason to stress yourself out. You will realize when your wedding is over that all the stress was for absolutely NOTHING and most people in hindsight regret so many of the pressures they put on themselves.
Side note: The wedding industry is a 6 billion dollar a year industry now. It’s big business for most people including me. I won’t deny that I make good money in this industry. But money is the driving force behind all these decisions that some vendors will make you think you need to do.
Let’s ruffle some feathers and stir the pot quick. I’m just gonna jump right into these. Here’s a few things that need to be out in the open that in my opinion will help reduce stress and help you enjoy your wedding. Keep in mind I’m in Montana and 90% of my weddings are in this state so if you are out of state some of these might not apply to you as much. Here’s the topics we will discuss:
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 1: Don’t listen to your friends that have never been married.
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 2: Don’t pick a holiday to get married on.
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 3: Don’t make your guests buy their own drinks all night.
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 4: Don’t get married outside in the winter.
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 5: Don’t forget to feed your vendors. (Please don’t forget)
- RUFFLE MOMENT number 6: Flowers. The cost of flowers.
RUFFLE MOMENT 1:
This concept can apply to anyone at any time. Think of those friends you have that are lazy asses that have accomplished nothing in life, yet they are the first ones to tell you that a business idea is horrible and that you’ll never succeed. “Yeah okay Karen… shut your face and go sit on your couch.” It always amazes me when people take stock in what others say. Would you listen to a fat ass tell you how to get in shape? No!
So why would you ever listen to a friend’s advice that’s never been married? I see this a lot. I’ve worked with hundreds of brides and I would say 3 out of 10 always have a maid of honor/bridesmaids that add so much stress to the planning because they think they know everything, yet they’ve never even experienced their own wedding. I had a bride recently, well in 2018, that was bringing her maid of honor to every meeting. This MOH meant well. She really did, but was taking over every meeting I was involved with. I could tell it was bothering the bride, so I asked her to call me when she had the chance so we could plan a few things out. Once we got on the phone and I was able to get her to open up, she was relived beyond measure. I told her 3 things that can help and deal with her best friends during this:
- You give a difficult, controlling friend boundaries. You tell them what they are in charge of and put your foot down. Tell them you really enjoy handing some of the details and that it’s better for them to focus on the tasks you give them.
- You don’t bring them to every meeting you do. Leave them home sometimes.
- The best thing is to be upfront though. Communication is always key and will save your sanity. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed because you have a friend that thinks they know best on every little detail. At the end of the day remind them it’s your wedding and not theirs.
RUFFLE MOMENT 2:
Okay… If you decide to get married on a holiday you’re a pain in the ass even though I still love ya if you were one of my brides in the past (Insert LOL). Someone has to tell you so I will. In fact it amazes me when people do this and expect their entire guest list to show up. Have I DJ’d weddings on a holiday? YES! Most DJs have. In fact we have had several DJs doing events on holidays and holiday weekends.
Here’s what always baffles me about people doing their wedding on a holiday.
- They act like you’re crazy when the price is higher. Yes, if you choose to get married on a holiday you’re going to be paying more then the average person. You are taking vendors away from their families during a holiday and that sucks. So yes, most vendors are going to higher their price because they would rather be at home with their families on those type of days.
- Also something else to keep in mind in Montana. Griz football games and hunting season are holidays. I know most of you just rolled your eyes and you’re thinking well he’s a guy so that’s why he’s saying that, but I’m being serious here. I’ve seen brides under a LOAD of stress planning a wedding on Griz football home openers or the first day of hunting season. I would advise avoiding it. Always keep in mind your fiance will agree with you on anything because he’s gonna bite his tongue to make you happy… Who won’t bite their tongues are your guests. They will make your life miserable by giving you shit the entire time you are planning while trying to be excited. I know this as I got married on September 19th…
RUFFLE MOMENT 3:
If you require your guests to fly in for your wedding, get a hotel, and buy you a gift then you better damn well be courteous enough for the evening to cover the cost of their drinks. Especially if you make your guests do the dollar dance. The dollar dance is possibly the worst formality in the history of weddings. It used to be a fun way to get people on the dance floor and be fun and goofy with the bride and groom.
It quickly turned into a huge cash grab and people felt obligated to give $20 bills vs the standard $1. At any rate if you are choosing to do these things it’s common courtesy to pay for your guest’s drinks. Even if it’s just the beer and wine, at least you are covering something for them.
However be prepared to have very upset guests if they are spending all their money to get to your wedding only to arrive and be told they need cash for any drink they need.
Trust me on this one.
RUFFLE MOMENT 4:
This is one of those things that seem so obvious. It’s like reading the warning labels on brand name products and thinking to yourself: “who in the hell actually did that for this company to even warrant a label?”
Believe it or not this is happening more and more in Montana. Obviously my blogs have a target audience of Montana or the northwest, so if you live in the south and it’s still 70 degrees in January this doesn’t apply to you. BUT, in this great state why people are now deciding it’s a good idea to have outside ceremonies in the winter is beyond my ability to reason. I would assume it’s to get good pictures because I can’t think of any other reason.
Here’s my top 5 reasons to not get married outside in the cold ass winter months of Montana:
- It’s really cold. Colder then a well diggers ass in January cold.
- It’s COLD. REALLY COLD.
- It’s uncomfortably cold.
- The wind will blow making it below zero wind chill cold.
- Freezing cold.
I think that about sums it up. You will also lose about 10-20% of your guest list should you get married outside in January. I was doing a wedding last year and the poor couple I was DJ’n for were so upset because one side of their chairs were empty. We delayed the wedding about 10-15 minutes to allow for more people to show up, but it never happened. It was 12 degrees outside that day.
Nobody wants to sit in 12 degree weather to hear 1st Corinthians cited for the 23493th time no matter what day it is.
RUFFLE MOMENT 5:
Disclaimer: This is more geared towards other vendors that stare at me when I eat like I have the damn Coronavirus and just coughed on people. 95% of all brides I’ve worked with in the past have been amazing about feeding their vendors. However there are still a few out there that are completely forgetful when it comes to this.
I have a lot of vendors disagree with me on this one. This is an issue I’m passionate about because vendors, while yes getting paid to do your wedding, should be fed. Some view this as “unprofessional” but I think that’s a cliche and overused word anyways. The fact is we are there on average 10 hours or more and like any other job you are getting paid to do, you should get a lunch break. At a wedding we don’t get breaks. When I do eat at a wedding I’m standing up eating at my table as fast as I can so I can get back to the action.
Most of the time I arrive to a wedding 2-3 hours before my contracted start time to set up. I’ll then do a 8-9 hour wedding and have to tear down for another 30 mins to an hour. At so many venues in Montana there aren’t places to eat after the wedding. In fact, I’ve been at weddings where the venue location doesn’t even have a gas station near it or open after 10pm and there’s no where to get food until the next morning.
I’ve been told by vendors to bring snacks and “sneak off” and eat. I can’t do that. I stay at my DJ table as much as I can. I hate going to the bathroom sometimes because the second I leave I feel someone always needs me to make an announcement.
If you think it’s unprofessional to eat in front of guests, but it’s okay to eat snacks in front of guests I implore you to ask yourself what the difference is? I would even pay for a plate if that’s what’s needed.
In summary: I need my energy to get through the night. Feeding vendors is not unprofessional and is okay to do. Other vendors that see me eat and don’t like it you can all kick rocks 🙂
You’re probably thinking to yourself how does this help myself as a bride plan a stress free wedding? Designating someone to help take care of your vendors needs will definitely make your wedding day flow smoothly. I for one, even when I don’t get food, will never bother the bride and groom about it on their wedding day. That’s rare though, and it’s just better to have a plan for all of this before your wedding day even starts.
RUFFLE MOMENT 6:
I’m not going to make a lot of friends with Florists and cake makers on this opinion. In fact these 2 things led me to raise my rates almost double in the year 2014. For that I’m thankful! I remember sitting there busting my ass at a wedding sweating through 3 layers of shirts. It was 95 degrees out… I was sweating my ass off moving gear, setting up multiple mics and speakers all over the place so that sound could be perfect for a wedding of 400 plus guests. They had me moving around everywhere, and I had music playing in 2 locations at the same time.
At one point in the evening the mother of the bride says to me: “it’s so hot out here all our flowers are gonna die quicker. We spent $4500 on these damn things” I about shit myself on the spot. This family had made such a big deal out of me charging $1150 for 6 hours. (That was my rate at the time.) If you follow my website, read my blogs, or anything I post on social media you know how I feel about the importance of a good DJ.
That said I couldn’t believe someone would shell out that kind of money for flowers that will die in 7-10 days or less all for the sake of decoration yet talk me down on my price acting like I was charging them 20% of their retirement. They legitimately had me thinking they were having a hard time affording things. I felt bad and dropped my rate to book the gig. Bad move on my part really, but it hasn’t happened since this single incident back in 2014.
Maybe I shouldn’t single out flowers and just say decorations, but when you are planning a wedding don’t stress yourself out on spending too much money on shit like that UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN AFFORD IT. Otherwise it makes no sense and for some reason in the wedding industry the first vendor to start getting cut down budget wise is the DJ, whom I think is the most important. I rarely hear anyone comment after the wedding is over about flowers or any decor. That impresses old ladies. After that people will see it, be in awe for 10 seconds, and then forget about it.
Brides spend astronomical amounts of money on flowers, and at the end of the night they are begging people to take them home. They rarely leave the wedding with these flowers. I’ll be packing up, usually the last one out in some cases, and I can look around at thousands of dollars of flowers left hanging in the venue only to be forgotten.
The one place that won’t forget the flowers is your wallet. They can be extremely expensive. Will this be an unpopular opinion? Yes it will but it’s an honest one. I have friends that are florists. My opinion on this makes it risky to even put this out there but I’m standing by it. Some florists might hate DJs… I dunno… But a DJ is never gonna cost you $4000 and you will remember if your DJ was really good or bad. The flowers will die in a week and you will forget…
Thanks for sticking with the entire blog if you got this far. I feel like I have good insight and a lot of my opinions from from hearing other people give theirs over the years. Part 3 will be a lot different. I have 4 parts that tie all these blogs together. I hope anyone reading this gets value from it. That’s the main goal. If anyone has any questions or wants to rant back at me because they agree or disagree feel free to message me. I love hearing from everyone.
Thank you and as always I appreciate everyone that hires me and trusts me to do their wedding.