All white dance floor at Hilton Cleveland downtown wedding.
All white dance floor at Hilton Cleveland downtown wedding.
Room shot with floral at wedding
head table at wedding
wedding ceremony set up

Floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking views of the lake

Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland, a Hilton Cleveland downtown wedding will never disappoint.  This wedding venue features a very contemporary and classic hotel as well as ballrooms. The newest technology and highest quality of food and service in the industry is what the Hilton is known for.

Say “I Do” with a view! Making unforgettable memories is their specialty. Their expert team of wedding specialists will undoubtedly ensure your wedding dreams come true. Both expansive ballrooms feature floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking views of Lake Erie.  Whether you have 150 or 1000 family and friends, your Hilton Cleveland Downtown wedding will customized and tailored to your needs.

Atriums and foyers you can only wish for

As a Cleveland wedding DJ company, we have never been to a more classic, contemporary venue this beautiful.  The atrium is layered in the most cutting edge artwork that you can’t help but to stop and take it in. Their foyers are not only customizable and stunning but you can literally have dozens of different layouts as well.

You cannot go wrong by choosing to have a Hilton Cleveland Downtown wedding. Another thing that is fantastic is that when the evening is complete, you and your guests can go up 37 floors to enjoy the rest of the party.

Some of the unique things we have done in the past at this Cleveland wedding venue:

Contact us now if your considering having a Hilton Cleveland Downtown wedding.

Calculator, pen and paper with text reading "wedding tax".

How to Avoid the Wedding Tax

Contrary to what you might read in magazines or other blog publications dedicated to weddings, most wedding vendors aren’t out to get all of your money or take advantage of you. You may have heard of something called the wedding tax. We believe this is more often a lack of consumer education than a real occurrence. The idea that you pay more for the same exact goods or services just because it’s for a wedding is something we haven’t really seen. With that said, we do tend to hang around a more reputable crowd of wedding suppliers. This occurrence keeps coming up over and over. Therefore, we decided to give you some additional context that might explain why this seems to be happening. It may also help so that you can avoid being taken advantage of.


Gold coins and alarm clock on opposite ends of a scaleFor all things to be fair, whatever product and service you are looking to have at your wedding would have to take no more time on the part of the vendor than it would if it was for any event type. This includes meetings, level of detail or time spent at the actual wedding. For example, if you are hiring a wedding photographer and you are unsure about why their wedding package is a few thousand and portrait sessions are $150 an hour, it’s because there’s a lot more time with one type vs. another.

Wedding photography in and of itself is a long day. They are usually with someone from the start of make-up until the last dance. Usually that’s just the tip of the iceberg too. This is because editing and retouching (let alone the volume of prints) is a much longer process due to the large number of photos shot. So if you think you are faced with a wedding tax, try to determine if one of the most valuable commodities (time) is equal in what you are comparing. It’s usually this invisible difference that results in a price change.


Price tag with question mark on it.One of the other ways that couples might see a wedding tax when there isn’t one is through packages. When it comes to buying or renting goods and services for events outside of weddings, it’s pretty common to see a la carte pricing which separates everything out. More often for weddings you’ll see package pricing. This isn’t to deceive but to simplify. The chances that wedding clients haven’t purchased what a wedding vendor offers is really high. Therefore,  supplier companies do their best to make it less overwhelming by putting together popular options into a A,B, and C choice. Now, in our experience, these packages aren’t written in stone and that’s where the savings can happen (as we discussed in a blog post about budgeting).

If you want to avoid what may appear like higher pricing due to organizations offering packages, you’ll need to do your homework. This way you will have a better understanding of what’s out there, what you want, and what you don’t need. With that information, you’ll be in a position to go a la carte and only pay for what you will get the most value from.

Specialists are a Premium

best entertainment company in ohioAnother way that higher pricing for weddings might seem like a wedding tax is when you compare the prices of wedding specialists vs. other service providers who aren’t totally committed to weddings. Now this is not an indictment on vendors who work on corporate, non-profit, and other social events. This is a question of the differences between working on and with wedding clients as well as supply and demand.

Weddings come with unique circumstances, when compared to other events, that impact cost. For instance, there are more planning meetings with wedding clients than some other event categories. This is because other event types of people who make these event supplier choices all the time so they are faster at it. The fact that weddings are events that happen for clients annually is another difference between them and corporate events. With corporate events, a wedding vendor might give someone a break on pricing in order to get the relationship going. This helps give them a foot in the door in order to work on more of their events in the future. More marketing is needed for weddings which is also costly. This is based on the fact that new clients have to be found each year.

Apples to Apples

Picture of applesThe explanations we gave above are based on the idea that you’re shopping the same company for their different offerings. If you are between one potential vendor and another and one focuses on weddings they seem more expensive. There’s another reason for that though, and it’s not the wedding tax. The wedding specialists who charge more also probably have a much better reputation and a longer one. Trustworthy and reliable team members are hard to come by. By compensating them appropriately they can rely on them year after year.

These types of wedding businesses know that there are no do-overs with weddings. You have one day to get everything right. This means back-up equipment in case something happens, entertainers on stand-by, and proper training. Proper training is crucial because it ensures the team will maintain and grow the well-earned reputation the company has. These businesses are in-demand for all the reasons above and that factors into their cost. While it might not be a line item, mitigating risk is one of the most important investments you can make when choosing who will be on your wedding team.

To Summarize

We are wedding specialists who pride ourselves in decades of experience. We honestly don’t believe the wedding tax is a real thing in any significant volume. There’s a chance smaller part-time organizations newer to the industry might raise their prices for wedding clients. However, their standard prices are probably already pretty low. Those of us invested in what we do  believe in the value of what we offer. We are also very transparent with how we price. Feel free to talk to us about what we charge and why. We’re an open book and not afraid to have that talk at any time. It is our goal to make sure that our wedding clients are educated in the nuances of pricing. This way they can get what they expect.

Caption regarding wedding planning tips by Jay R from Selective Sound Entertainment

Wedding Planning Tips from Cleveland Wedding Expert Jay R Rich

Selective Sound Entertainment (SSE)’s founder, Jeremy Rich, has been helping couples with their dream days for over two decades. While each couple has different tastes, goals, and visions, many experience the exact same pitfalls in their planning experience. The reason for this is varied. Typically, this is due to the enormous amount of pressure and lack of experience in planning their own wedding. A driving force behind this blog is to educate couples in order to avoid these issues regardless if they end up working with our company or not. We want to work for the couples who we are a good fit for. Our goal is to make sure everyone can benefit from the experience. The wedding planning tips we share enable couples to have a much better experience leading up to their ceremony and reception.

We sat down with Jay R in order to document as much wisdom as possible to share with you. As you will hear on the video, Jay R is very passionate about wedding DJ entertainment, lighting design, videography, photo booths as well as live wedding music. However, he spent most of his time discussing how couples end up with up so much stress. This is mostly due to planning and communication issues. Many of these issue can be avoided but it requires everyone involved getting as organized as possible. The following is a compilation of a few of the biggest wedding planning tips Jay R discussed in the interview.

Choosing a Vendor on Price Alone

Wedding planning tips from Jay R are to research, look for value not price and meet your vendor in person.

Meet with the vendor you have in mind before you sign a contract.

The difference between offering value and being the least expensive can be vast. Low price offerings don’t automatically mean an inferior product or service. However, there are usually reasons why a vendor is so much less than their competitors, especially with wedding DJ’s. Wedding entertainment has no barrier to entry. To be a professional DJ doesn’t come with any tests or certifications. In fact, many do it for fun on the weekends while mostly focusing on their day job. While that’s admirable, there’s a level of professionalism and honing of your craft that you never reach unless you put in the time and are “all in”.

Another limitation with working for people with low prices because of a low overhead is a lack of back-up systems. With Selective Sound, we invest money in training our team members before they ever lead an event. We also have warehouse staff, on-call entertainers, and technicians available as runners. If something happens to your entertainer on the way to your wedding or if a piece of technology breaks down, we are always prepared.

Well-paid professionals are also one of the reasons we have maintained a long history in Cleveland as trustworthy professionals. We keep the people happy who are in the position to make or break an event. This is because they are talented and reliable. We’ve seen a lot of the lowest bidding entertainers come and go. This is because they didn’t have a sustainable business and couldn’t maintain their credibility. There’s no do-over for a wedding reception. Therefore, you need to make sure you ask all the right questions when you are choosing who will help make your day the way you want it.

Budget – Be Open and Honest

Wedding planning tips from Jay include setting your budget and priorities early on.

Open communication is the key to success!

We’ve written before about the importance of setting your budget early before you start the hunt for vendors. This may be one of the most crucial of wedding planning tips. Jay R believes this is a critical point on the road to success for families celebrating a wedding. Make sure everyone with a vested stake in the wedding gets their say and lays out what they are willing to contribute. This form of open communication and organization should follow through to your conversations with those you are willing to hire as well.

While your research online may have turned up pricing and packages for the vendors you want, it’s always worth having a conversation with them. This way you can see if there is something they can offer that would meet your goals while staying in your budget. You’d be surprised by how much creativity and budgets are connected. A true professional isn’t going to change their pricing because they were asked to go lower. However, they can offer you alternative solutions that have less hard costs, such as labor and less products.

All of this is to say that the biggest regrets couples have had seems to center around compromises they made for the sake of their budget. This, unfortunately, resulted in selecting vendors that didn’t perform. The best way to get around this is to talk about budgets early, often and with everyone while asking your preferred vendors to be creative.

Meet Face to Face

Millennials and Generation Z are the most skilled researchers of any generations. That’s because they’re adapt at seeking out online information in order to make better buying decisions. That said, we still advise you to meet with the vendors you are considering face to face. Some wedding pros look better online than they do in reality. This is due to slick marketing. Others could look ideal but when you meet with them you immediately don’t connect.

We think online research is extremely important to decision making for weddings in Cleveland. According to Jay R, listings like The Knot and Wedding Wire work because they are peer reviews. Research can get you 80% of what you need to make a decision so we agree that reviews, videos, testimonials etc. are useful to pick your top few choices. After that, make at least three appointments with the most important vendor types (venue, catering, DJ/entertainment, photographers) in order to have an in-person talk to see if you click. It might seem like a redundant step but it can make a huge difference.

For More Wedding Planning Tips – Watch The Video

Here’s the video of Jay R being interviewed about decisions couples regret making. We don’t want to scare anyone with negativity but it’s important to us that you learn these lessons the easy way before your big day.

Your wedding guest list determines everything

The People That Matter The Most

Most people will tell you there are stages you go through from the minute you are engaged to the day of your wedding. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions and decisions. Many veteran wedding professionals have advice for couples on any aspect they are asked about. They simply have far more experience dealing with weddings than most of their clients. That said, there’s one recommendation we give that is a bit different than a lot of our peers. That is, build your wedding guest list before you create your budget. We really think it’s the best first step when planning your wedding.

The number of guests you have drives every decision and especially comes into play when you consider your budget. Your guest count becomes your new multiplier. Due to this, you’ll need to know it with every meeting you have with those who would potentially be involved in your wedding. Wedding cakes are sold by the slice, caterers charge by the plate, and each centerpiece is one per table. This of course, means everything revolves around the number of attendees from your wedding guest list.

For what we offer, the guest count comes into play for the amount of equipment we need to make sure sound is ideal. On top of that, possible decor features such as pin-spotting for centerpieces are contingent on knowing your multiplier. The amount of space you will actually be using in your venue can impact where the best placement of the dance floor should be and potentially even the use of pipe and drape. Even photo booths hinge your wedding guest list for things like printing, novelties and speed. If you work together on your ideal list first, you can use that number to drive the rest of your conversations.

Not Everyone Will Come

Click picture for a sample wedding guest list tracker

Download a wedding guest list template

A lot has been written about the typical percentage of those who RSVP for weddings. We don’t believe there is a consistent percentage across the board. However, there are many factors to consider when speculating your count. With weddings in Cleveland, you have to think about the weather. You probably know that snow is possible between October and April. This can definitely keep many people from traveling on the roads. Travel in general makes a big difference when it comes to your wedding guest list. If most of your guests are in-between Akron / Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, expect a higher turnout due to the decreased financial burden.

The percentage of family vs. friends can make a difference too. Family tend to find a way to make it happen more often than friends. Finally, take into account seasonality. Are the Cleveland Browns playing on that date? Do you have a lot of summer vacationers on your wedding guest list? Are there guests in college? Lots of questions like this can give you a somewhat clearer picture. Bottom line, you won’t know for sure who will RSVP but it won’t be 100%.

Kids or No Kids?

There are a lot of opinions about kids at weddings…many of them are strong ones. We provide detached council when it comes to questions about kids. This is because it can work as often as it doesn’t and it’s ultimately your decision. You know your crowd better than we do. And, either way, you are the one who will have to deal with the ramifications. One piece of advice we do have is to be consistent with your policy. A surefire way to make people feel alienated is to have a policy that isn’t equal. Most of the time, it is a pretty safe play to go with all or nothing when it comes to kids. The gains and benefits from having or not having kids around at your wedding don’t add up to more than the cost of hurting anyone’s feelings. Be fair, communicate and stick to your guns.

Create A Tiered Wedding Guest List

A wedding guest list determined this floor plan.

Your wedding guest list will ultimately determine the size of your venue and so many other things.

As mentioned, not everyone you invite will attend and your guest count makes a big difference on your budget. Since you know this when creating your wedding guest list, consider sending out invitations in waves based on tiers. If you do that, you’ll be able to add others as spaces open up. Creating tiers has its own challenges, of course. Usually more than one person has a say as to who is invited. If there are multiple decision makers weighing in on who is invited, give them each an allowance of guests. By doing that, you’ll even out the impact of who gets to come for sure and who is on standby.

Couples Are Two Times The Guests

If you are looking at pairing down your guest list, then we know it’s obvious that guests’ plus ones make up half of your list. A common point of contention we’ve seen over and over are couples who get upset at guests who bring dates they don’t see as valid. Like with the inclusion of children, breakdowns in expectations from ambiguity. The clearest ways to communicate who is a valid plus one and who isn’t is by saying anyone can bring a plus one or only married couples can come as a unit. This clear cut rule is routed in fairness.

Venue Limitations

Guest table settings determined by wedding guest list.

The guest list determines so much. Number of centerpieces, how much food, which venue, etc.

The first questions couples ask during a tour of a venue is almost always “How many guests can your venue accommodate?” The amount of guests in a venue has many factors including safety, comfort, legality, room flow, etc. Against all that, they are running a business. More guests means more revenue for the space and a larger cut from your budget to you. That’s why it’s important to work with professionals who have a great reputation and don’t take chances. It’s also a good idea to look at pictures of the venue with a configuration similar to what you are looking at. There’s sometimes a distance between what a venue can legally accommodate and what is ideal for your guests.

We work with venues all the time to take in many different factors in order to have a win/win for everyone. Once we know your guest count, we can call upon our experiences in a specific venue. Then we can help draft a floor plan that makes it look like it was built for the exact number you have. If you are ever unsure about how a specific venue will accommodate the number of attendees you’ll be having, feel free to ask us. We’ll be one hundred percent honest with you. Even more, we’ll also provide you with options that can help manipulate the space to make it perfect for you.

In Summary

While we provide wedding entertainment, lighting, photo booths and other entertainment, our goal is to do more than that. We want to be your partner. While most event companies stress the creation of the budget as the first move you should make, we know weddings of any budget can be special as long as you have the right people there celebrating with you. Reach out if you are looking for a team with over two decades of wedding experience in your corner.

Inside of Cleveland arcade highlighted with various lighting techniques during NYE ball drop

Ball Drop Credits

Ball Drop

Bride and groom:  Julie and Ryan Tropf

Venue: Cleveland Hyatt Arcade

Photographer: Corey Ann photography

Entertainment/DJ: Selective Sound Entertainment

Ceremony music/sound reinforcement: Selective Sound Entertainment

Confetti/special effects: Selective Sound Entertainment

Audio Visual/effects/LCD TVS/Video Streaming of ball drop: Selective Sound Entertainment

Florist: Nikkis 21 Blooms

Wedding cake: Wild Flour bakery



The Epic Event

When we initially sat down with Julie and Ryan, they had many ideas for their wedding reception. We, too, had many potential ideas and wanted to help them create an exciting and epic New Year’s Eve reception. Everyone agreed that our mission was to make it possible for all of the guests to be able to watch the ball drop together.

Our goal was to combine a social media presence with the streaming of the ball drop at midnight.  We didn’t want any guests having to leave to see it and knew it would be exciting to have everyone watch it together.  Therefore, Selective Sound Entertainment provided the 270″ LCD TVs that featured the socialcast being shown all night until about 11:45 pm. At that point, the video technician switched over to the ball drop. When we could not stream it online, we devised a plan to gain a signal and succeeded.

Then, two confetti cannons shot off at midnight throwing colorful streams into the dance floor. As a result, this made for an amazing photo op that highlighted the energy and fun of the evening!

Throughout the night, DJ Marcus kept the dance floor packed and the guests partying all night. As a result, the guests left the wedding with sore feet and happy memories. From our point of view that was a major success!

When one of your brides tells you that the best wedding she’s ever been to was her own, you know without a doubt that you were successful. Above all, exceeding a couples goals on their special day is what Selective Sound Entertainment is all about.