Every couple will have their own priorities and therefore you will get a lot of different opinions on this topic. This is exactly why I’m not a fan of the “cookie-cutter” budgets. Every couple is different, and as a result, different aspects of their weddings with hold different levels of priority in their hearts. For my wife & I the top three priorities were photography (my wife LOVES scrapbooking), the food (who doesn’t love good food?!) and the entertainment (party on!). We definitely splurged on these three and spent less on other things like decor, the cake and the flowers. Your budget & your priorities should be directly related.
As a wedding professional I work very hard to provide my clients with the best service and best value for their money. I know that when it comes to entertainment, you really do get what you pay for. I am positive that this is also true with wedding photographers, videographers, decorators, caterers, florists, etc.
As a DJ and MC, I attend conferences and seminars, I spend a lot of time on the phone helping plan events, I am constantly answering emails and keeping on top of social media, practicing several times a week, etc. Music, insurance, equipment, software and licensing are not cheap. DJs that take the time to do things properly and run a reputable business are generally worth what they charge. You’re not just paying someone to show up and play music for a few hours. I’m sure it’s very similar for other professionals as well. Their equipment and supplies can cost tens of thousands of dollars and dedicated vendors put in a lot of time and effort to cater to their customers.
My recommendation is to put your money where your memories are. Don’t book a vendor because you’ll get points in some competition or because they’re so desperate for work that they’re willing to throw in random things for free. Do your research and select vendors that suit your style and priorities. Communicate with your chosen professionals so they know exactly what you are expecting. You should be very comfortable with your wedding vendors and trust in their capabilities. If your expectations are clearly outlined, then the right vendors will do what they need to do to meet, if not exceed, those expectations.