Planning a wedding (or event) is hard.  Sticking to a budget is even harder.  As all the details of wedding planning come into place, it’s amazing how fast costs add up.  Unfortunately, this can create something we like to call “Budget Blindness”, which can seriously harm well intentioned plans.

The Almighty Budgetcity winery

Look, we get it, budgets are set for a reason.  If you’re trying to plan a 200 person wedding on 10k, you won’t be able to spend 8k on a really great wedding band.  My wedding was less than a year ago, we had a budget, we couldn’t hire the 8k wedding band.

Beware of this one trap though:

Budget Based Booking

Too often clients find themselves concerned with one detail…the budget.  Maybe they had a great idea about hiring a specific type of entertainment, like dueling pianos, and then searched around until they found a company who was within their budget.

The issue is that this line of reasoning assumes all dueling pianos companies are the same.

If I said I had a $10 budget for lunch but really craved GOOD sushi, does that suddenly mean that the $10 option at the local grocery store has the same quality as a respected sushi restaurant?  Of course not.  If you want an 8-piece band for 3k, will they be as good as the 8k option?

Ok, that’s an extreme example.  Hopefully no one is going to think the 3k band is as good as the 8k band.  But what about the 3k vs the 4k?  2k vs the 3k?  Now the numbers are closer…does the same principle apply?

Booking on a Budget

Dueling pianos has been a great option for wedding entertainment because it bridges the gap between DJs and full bands.  Unfortunately, this gap is shared by a lot of other companies who may not quite be worth the price.

Aside from booking my own wedding and running a dueling pianos company, I also run a booking agency and feel I have a decent grasp on wedding rates.  My days consist of writing up quotes and discussing budgets.

Silver Lake Country Club Wedding Reception

Wedding at Silver Lake Country Club

Get The Best Rate

Consider this: the best rate may not be the cheapest one.  When I think about “best”, I think about more than just the bottom line.  Does the quote include the ceremony/cocktails/dinner/reception?  Does the quote include multiple locations?  Special Requests?  Emcee Services?  Sound and lights?  Or do all these options come with extra fees?  Or not at all (if you need to hire a third party to play your ceremony, your entertainment budget better have a lot of wiggle room!)

What is the company’s reputation?  Experience?  Or is a low quote compensating for a lack there of?

A lot of planners/couples make the mistake of price checking any number of groups and then settling on the cheapest.  Don’t get caught in this trap!  If you’re looking for dueling pianos, DJs, or bands, don’t convince yourself that every company shares the same qualities and professionalism.  Be sure to do your homework:

1. Are they on The Knot or WeddingWire?  These are the two largest wedding websites in the world.  Anyone can post reviews to a personal website, but profiles on these sites are monitored and reviews are verified.

2. Better yet, have they won “Best Of The Knot” or “WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice” awards?  If not, chances are they don’t specialize in weddings.  Planning a wedding is about having great relationships with your vendors, make sure your vendor is there for you!  (BTW: F&F have won both Best of The Knot and WeddingWire Awards consistently)

3. Check their Facebook.  Does this look like a company you want to work with?  Are all their pictures of drunk people at bars, or wedding venues?  Is the company current, or are you finding outdated material from years ago?

4. Who’s your point of contact?  Are you dealing with a full time banker who plays music on the side?  Are you dealing with a band of college grads who never wanted to get a real job?  Or do you have a responsive team of planners aiding the decision making?

Planners tend to overlook this info when an attractive quote comes in…don’t fall prey to that.  When your wedding/event is depending on a band to deliver entertainment, nothing can end a night prematurely like poor entertainment.  If given a choice between a $1500 DJ and a $2000 band, I’d choose the DJ everytime.  The best DJ is always a better option than a poor band.

But the Price is Just Too High

We got to play on the famous Blue Baldwin Pianos thanks to Crystal Lake's Piano Trends!

Dueling Pianos at the Chicago Merchandise Mart

You get it, there’s more to the price than just a number, but the fact is your preferred entertainment is still just out of reach.  Have you tried:

1. Booking on a Friday or Sunday (or anything other than a Saturday night)?

2. Comping hotel rooms.  If you’re getting a heavily discounted rate at a hotel, you might be able to save a bit on entertainment if the Band’s rooms are comped.

3. Negotiating?  Just ask…what can it hurt?  I’d much rather a bride/groom ask me than assume that we are inflexible and book someone else.  Give the vendor a chance to serve you!

Speaking of negotiating… if you’ve read this blog post and want to hire F&F, mention this blog and we’ll discount your quote $100.  Simple as that!  (applies to weddings and corporate events)

4. Book quickly!  If you can make a decision the day you reach out to your prospective options, ask for a discount in exchange for signing a contract THAT DAY.  Low maintenance decisive clients make our job easier.  When possible, we’re happy to offer an early booking discount.

If the numbers still don’t line up, then find the highest quality entertainment that fits in your budget.  Again, a great DJ is better than a budget band.

The Pitch – Top 10 Reasons!

You’re a smart person.  I’m sure you can figure out that this blog, along with trying to be informative, is also a sales pitch for Felix and Fingers.  It was written to address some of the most common questions and concerns I receive.  We are not the cheapest dueling pianos group and don’t try to be, but why should you entrust your wedding to us?

Felix and Fingers with Shells

Company Photo at Shell Unveiling

1. Our reviews.  No one can compete.  These are verified reviews on the Knot and WeddingWire.  We have a track record with these websites.  It’s obvious that weddings and special events are “our thing”.

2. Our team.  Pick your players from our dedicated list of performers.  We don’t perform with other dueling companies simply because we know F&F has the best approach to weddings.  People underestimate how important it is to have exclusive players.  Where as other companies tend to use any number of “hired guns” (who could very well be great performers), with F&F you know you’re getting someone who specializes in weddings.  It makes a huge difference.

3. Our “behind the scenes”.  We employ a full time event coordinator to work with you on your event details.  Jessica is super organized and has one job: to make sure your needs are met.  This comes in especially handy the month of your wedding!

4. Our Professionalism.  It’s what we live by.  We’ll arrive 2 hours early for load in, dress appropriately, conduct ourselves as professionals (not egomaniacal rock stars), and simply do everything in our power to make your event go smoothly.

5. Our Blogs.  Have you looked at the hundreds of blogs on this site?  Seriously, check it out.  Maybe start here!

6. Our Top Notch Gear.  Because you’re hiring a company of exclusive performers, all of our players perform on the same equipment. It’s required!  We’ve standardized our sound system, keyboards, lights, etc, so that we know every event sees the same quality show.

7. Our Quote and what’s included.  Every F&F quote includes sound/lights/travel/gear.  We all use Sennheiser Wireless Microphones thanks to a sponsorship with Sennheiser.  We can play music, live or DJed, for all parts of your event, beginning to end, and not nickel and dime you about overtime fees.  The quote covers EVERYTHING.  Don’t get sucked in by low quotes that just add on extra fees…the majority of our reviews are based on our standard quote.  No games.

8. Our Experience.  F&F often perform 4 or 5 events across the company in a single day.  During wedding season, we have performed up to 8 weddings in a weekend.  We have a system that works and are trained for almost any scenario, but still know the Bride and Groom come first and that our goal is to achieve their perfect wedding.

9. Our Personalities!  Have you seen the youtube videos?  Our facebook pages and pictures?  You can tell we LOVE what we do.  Dueling pianos isn’t a hobby, it’s a life style for us, and we enjoy it thoroughly.  We get excited for every wedding and we’re always learning and improving our craft.

10. Our word.  I give you my word that we will deliver the best planning experience, the best service, and the best event we possibly can.  Chances are you received a call or email within hours (if not minutes) of your inquiry and a quote by the end of the day.  Our entire company stands behind our reputation and understands what it means to be a Felix and Fingers performer on a wedding or event.  We will work the hardest for you, period.

Still here?

Thanks for your time reading this blog post.  Wedding planning is as much about budgeting time as it is budgeting money, and I appreciate that you invested so much time with us.  We look forward to any opportunity we have to work with you and are always thrilled to prove why we are the best in the Dueling Pianos Biz!

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