Photo of SSE Founder, Jay R Rich - 13 planning tips for Cleveland weddings

Quick Tips That Will Help A Lot when Planning Cleveland Weddings

We interviewed the founder of Selective Sound Entertainment, Jeremy “Jay R” Rich, to ask him questions we knew would help couples planning Cleveland Weddings. Watch all or only the ones you need the answers to the most.

What Can Lead To Regrettable Wedding Entertainment?

Research your wedding DJ’s or live music, look for value and not just the cheapest price, and making sure to meet your potential partner first are three key tips to having less regrets when securing a wedding entertainer in Cleveland.

When Can Lighting Ruin a Cleveland Wedding Reception?

Lighting can hurt the look you desire for your wedding instead of helping if you select a vendor that doesn’t have a true background in lighting. Understanding the effects of color and how light changes spaces for photography are a few other things to consider before choosing a lighting vendor for your Cleveland wedding.

What Can Sound Amplification Do to a Wedding?

With the proper sound amplification at a wedding, you can ensure that your ceremony vows will be heard. In addition to that crucial service, a sound engineer can make sure nervous people know what they are doing with the microphones and there is always extra equipment in case something happens. This is especially important for those summer or fall Cleveland weddings.

What are couples biggest regrets years after their wedding?

The last thing we want to see are couples regretting the choices they’ve made for their wedding even if they aren’t our clients. Because we’ve been in the industry for so long, we’ve heard all the pains of couples who wished they had made difference decisions. One of the most frequent regrets is not buying videography in some form for their wedding. Likewise, sometimes the vendors they ended up with weren’t the best fit for them in reality. These issues and more are possibly avoidable as long as you do your best to educate yourself before hand.

Why is talking about your wedding budget important?

If you’re planning your wedding right, you should get everyone on the same page when it comes to your budget as soon as possible. If you get everyone involved together and set your priorities before you hire anyone, you’ll have a much higher chance for less stress. We’ve seen this time and time again when helping to plan Cleveland weddings.

What Wedding Couples Don’t Know about Lighting

Here’s what couples should know about lighting for their wedding…
1. There’s more to lighting design than uplighting.
2. The venue makes a big difference for lighting.
3. There are lots of lighting options possible, you just have to ask questions.

Where is Lighting the Most Impactful for a Wedding?

There are ways to get the most impact for your money when it comes to lighting options at weddings. Make sure to ask your lighting professional what will stand out the most. You should also concentrate on the areas that will be seen most often (especially in photos).

Should you add lighting to your wedding?

To determine if and what lighting options would be best for you, we think you should figure out a few things. Make sure you and your light professional know your venue well (even if that means taking a site visit). Determine what mood you want your guests to have at different times of the event. These tips and more have always resulted in better events from our experience working with clients in Cleveland.

What You Don’t Know About The Cost of Wedding Lighting

In order to be prepared for purchasing lighting for your wedding, ask your lighting provider to show you examples of what they’ve done in the same venue you will be having yours at. Make sure you know the overall effect you want to have and develop your expectations before you go into your first wedding lighting meeting. In our years of providing lighting for Cleveland weddings, this strategy has always benefited couples.

What We Wish Couples Knew About Lighting Design

There are a number of things we wish couples in Cleveland knew about wedding lighting before they even met us for an appointment. For instance, most don’t know just how much more pervasive lighting is on the guest experience over decor. That said, lighting can really bring out the best in decor if done right. There are a number of ways lighting can impact your wedding day, and we’d be excited to show you how!

How can wedding lighting impact guest emotions?

Colors affect the moods and emotions of people and lighting has the opportunity to wash a whole room in the colors of your choice. With a wedding lighting designer, LED lights can produce thousands of options. You can even change the colors of the room at different strategic times to get the feelings you want. We’ve had the chance to design spaces in Cleveland as well as many other parts of Northeast Ohio. With lighting, we have been able to bring couples’ visions to life time and time again.

What do Cleveland couples overlook the most?

There are a number of options that get overlooked frequently by couples planning wedding receptions. Videography is frequently overlooked and is also the number one regret from couples that pass on it. Don’t have regrets when planning your Cleveland wedding by making sure you are working with industry veteran professionals.

Live Music Tips for Cleveland Weddings

We believe live music can elevate both a wedding ceremony and reception. DJs, MCs, and Live Bands can work together very well so you get the best of all they can offer. Overall, live music can heighten the look, sound and emotions for your Cleveland wedding. We’d love to show you how!


We hope these 13 tips will help you plan your wedding reception with less stress and more knowledge. If you want to ask your own questions of Jay R, you can reach him here.

Calendars and calculators symbolize wedding budget tips

Weddings Should Always Be Positive

Many people believe that wedding planning has to be stressful. However, we would like to debunk that myth right here and now. We completely understand why there is a recipe for stress. First, you’re making a lot of purchases you’ve never made before. Secondly, there’s a great deal of family pressure from all angles on things you’ve never considered before. And last but not least, you likely have a vision for what your perfect day will look like and want to do everything in your power to make it a reality. We feel for you, we really do! And this is why we want to share some really helpful and important wedding budget tips with you.

We’ve been in the wedding business for decades and we see the same stressed out looks time after time. With that said, we believe part of our job while working with you is to also offer our professional perspective on all aspects of your wedding. The majority of your wedding experience is spent planning the big day so that’s often where you need the most help. Most of the stress we’ve seen related to planning is based on your budget. Since we know that’s a very real concern for anyone planning a wedding in our hometown of Cleveland, here are our wedding budget tips to help you out.

Set An Actual Budget

Woman at desk with calculator, determining wedding budget.

Planning your wedding doesn’t have to be stressful. Take a breath and use SSE’s wedding budget tips to guide you along the way.

There’s a joke that’s been going on as long as any of us have been in the industry when it comes to weddings and budgets. It goes something like this…a wedding vendor will ask the couple, “What’s your budget?” and will get the reply, “We don’t really have one.”. The wedding professional, knowing they need an actual number in order to help their would-be client then says, “Great! Let me show you what we did last year for this client for around one million dollars.” (While these types of weddings don’t happen everyday in Cleveland, they do take place.) The couple then says, “Woah! We don’t have a million dollars to spend on our wedding reception!”. Then the wedding pro responds, “Oh, I see. Well, let’s look at what we’ve done for one hundred thousand dollars….”. This goes on until they actually find a reasonable threshold.

The moral of that story is, couples do have budgets. In fact, everyone has a budget for everything. The reason that budgets are seemingly a taboo subject is that this is your dream day. There should be no restrictions on a dream. Except, it’s not really a dream once you get to these meetings – you’re in reality now. The reality is, you don’t want to go into debt for a wedding reception. We don’t want you to go into one either. Therefore, the first of our wedding budget tips is you should ask the tough questions up front with everyone who gets a say in your wedding. By doing this first, you can come with your prepared budget when you meet with professionals. True creatives can and will give you at least a version of your dream within your budget. Come test out our creativity and give us boundaries!


Two people reviewing a budget graphI bet you’re surprised to see a wedding professional telling you to negotiate when meeting with vendors. The reality is, most of us are small businesses. This means the person you are talking with is more of an empowered deal maker than a difficult sales person. The disclaimer we’ll put right out there is that the more in-demand the wedding professional is, the less they have to gain from negotiating. Someone will pay their prices for what they are offering if you don’t so they aren’t likely to budge. That’s why we suggest a different tactic if your goal is to work with true professionals.

Most of the pricing you’ll see are package pricing. Anyone who believes in the value of what they offer won’t give you a discount because you ask for it. However, they will break the package apart so it makes sense for everyone. This is one of our main wedding budget tips – ask for a custom package based around your budget. Just because someone has packages doesn’t mean they only sell those. Most of the time packages exist for simplicity because clients don’t know what they want. If you do your homework, are willing to compromise, and can find a creative vendor, you stand a good chance of getting the spirit of what you want for far less money.

Communicate With Your Team

Young couple meeting with parents.Wedding budget-related stress often happens when different parties all want specific things and there’s only so much money to go around. These issues can be avoided a number of ways. High on our list of wedding budget tips is to not shy away from communicating. The old-school “bride’s parents pay for everything” tradition is becoming less common. Sharing the financial responsibilities has become the norm. Consider giving people who contribute a stake in the decision making so everything is fair. Remember, this is a party not their position in your life, it doesn’t have to be personal. Making lists of what’s important to everyone (like the guest list) and the necessities will ground the planning in reality. Ultimately, the people in your life are worth more than any element of a reception. Remind yourself of that fact as well as all involved. This will help alleviate much of the stress.

Wedding Budget Tips To Remember

Make a list from what’s most important to least and make compromises on the bottom half in order to get what’s on the top half. If a specific caterer is what matters more than anything, maybe look at a day of the week with a lower room rental minimum in order to get them. Consider that lighting covers more of the room than decor if you have a very specific vision of the ambiance that you want. If your heart is set on a specific wedding entertainer, negotiate on the length of time they are willing to give. It’s worth asking! All in all, we believe that you should do everything in your power to eliminate stress while planning your wedding and should have the least amount possible once it’s over. Of all the wedding planning tips we have this is the most important one: make the whole experience fun!

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.

wedding planning lists with sticky note reads "Way to make it happen"

In Cleveland, Ohio You will Need Wedding Planning Lists

Wedding planning lists

Chalkboard with "Wedding planning tips" written on it.

Save yourself some hassle by making wedding planning lists

Weddings don’t just happen. Just like two people coming together and deciding to spend their lives together isn’t magic – it’s work. Weddings and their receptions are joyous times but they can get complicated. There is often a lot of pressure from friends and family on both sides of the isle based on a variety of expectations. Regardless, it’s just a few hours of only one day. You only have a narrow window for everyone to get what they want. If all of that sounds negative and exhausting on the heels of the happiest moment of your life, we understand.

It’s never our goal to scare people or make things sound worse than they are. However, we want you to know that we understand where you are or where you will be soon. At Selective Sound Entertainment, we pride ourselves on de-stressing a process that shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, we use our experience to break things down to a few wedding planning lists of priorities.

Why you should take our advice

Here are a few tips that we’ve picked up over the years. When you specialize in weddings for decades, you see patterns of behavior that can lead people down the wrong roads. While we are specialists in entertainment and decor, our real super power is that we listen. By focusing on listening, we’ve been able to make subjective visions of what our clients want tangible. Beyond that, true listening has made us invaluable to couples for more than just advise on things like DJ’s and lighting.

Time and time again, couples face problems that could have been avoided. With more of the right information going into their planning process, so much stress could have been avoided. While these wedding planning lists aren’t meant to be the end-all /be-all of wedding planning tips, they’re a few of what we consider the most crucial steps you can take in order to have less stress while still having your absolute dream day.

(Updated Nov 2020) check the link out below for some additional tips during this tough time.

Guest Count First

Often times, determining who is invited to your wedding can be a very pragmatic and collaborative process. Rest assured there are usually less hard feelings than you’d think. Those who don’t make the cut are typically well aware of the costs associated with wedding receptions. The reason we tell our couples to focus on the guest count first (even before budget) is because it’s more important to determine who you want to share your day with than how much you spend. Couples we’ve worked with in the past have voiced less regrets about things like venues and vendors than who was cut from their ideal list.

We use the guest count for what we offer in a multitude of ways. This includes sound recommendations, photo booth add-ons and decor elements that are tied to the number of tables you have. If you want to read more about guest count tips, check out this recent blog post that goes deeper on the ins and outs of creating this kind of wedding planning list.

Create Budget & Must Haves

The hardest part of planing a dream wedding for many is balancing what you want with what you can afford. If you ask a veteran wedding professional if they can do something, the answer is almost always “yes”. We’re in the “yes” business and are trained to find ways to take intangible ideas and make them real. That said, that kind of work can carry a high price tag if depending on how grand the dream is. That’s why it’s important to share your budget with anyone collaborating with you on your wedding. It’s just one more challenge for a creator and most can adapt to it if everyone is being transparent. While you set limits on what you are willing to spend, you should also create a list of the most important features you want to see included in your wedding.

Break your list up into three groupings:

  1. Needs – These are your must haves. Make sure everyone with a say weighs in and base your budget around these items first.
  2. Wants – These are wish list items that you’ve thought about for a while. These could be the deal breakers when you are between one vendor and another.
  3. Extras – These are all of the fun things you would like. However, they would be the first to get cut from your budget.

Venue Pros & Cons

Hand resting on top of wedding planning lists with pen in hand

Prevent stress by creating wedding planning lists.

Venues for weddings can offer some flexible options but, due to their very nature, they can’t be flexible on everything. That means that most spaces meet some of your criteria for the perfect spot for your reception while they also lack in other areas. Since no place is truly perfect for everyone, it’s best to determine what you want most from the reception location. Once you know what is most important to you, you can start your research and tours with open eyes and asking the right questions. Once you’ve looked at a few places (and you really should see more than one spot), you can create a list of each venue’s best and least desirable attributes. With this in mind, you can make more reasoned and sensible decisions.

Objectives Calendar

Is there anything more satisfying than checking a to-do item off of a list? It’s something we at Selective Sound Entertainment love to do, at least! We believe much of the stress associated with planning a wedding comes from feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of tasks you have in front of you. To have the weight of them all on your back at the beginning of planning isn’t fair or realistic. Consider spreading out the tasks you have to accomplish over the time you have between engagement and your wedding. You don’t need everything figured out in the first month of planning and focusing only on the things that help you build towards your event will enable you to make better decisions.

Your initial priorities should be things like guest count, date, venue, catering, and entertainment. These are the core elements of a wedding reception. Don’t forget ceremony details as well. You’ll need to lock down a venue, officiant, and some basic logistics (sound, seating, timelines, etc.). A list in the form of spread out deadlines will take away the feeling that planning is a burden. Therefore,you will be able to make way for a calmer experience.

We Love Lists!

At any rate, those are a few wedding planning lists we think everyone should make when planning their wedding. We believe in lists because it’s a big part of how our business runs smoothly. In our meetings with you, we take many notes that we use to make lists of our own. We have lists such as “must play songs”, venue logistics, and even the phonetic spellings of the names of your bridal party. This level of organization saves the day every time and separates professionals from people who just try to wing it. If you’re an organized couple, we’ll get along immediately! If not, you’re probably going to want to partner up with people like us fast because you don’t get a do-over on your wedding day! Reach out today and check off one more item on your to-do list.

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.