Totally new here - my partner and I are planning on a Vegas wedding for next summer. This (and vegasgroom's website) have been immensely helpful! We're going scouting in July or August but right now I'm just putting feelers out around ceremony and reception locations and trying to understand some of the pros and cons of going with wedding packages.
We're very interested in doing Caesar's for a ceremony and following up at Joe's - we've stayed at CP before and have a Joe's here in Chicago that we love. Our #1 priority throughout planning (something that maybe I'm having a harder time with than someone else) is to stay streamlined and simple. The fewer vendors and bells and whistles, the better, but we want to put on a fairly "classic" wedding.
With simplicity in mind, here are my questions:
1. In your opinions, is it worth the extra cost (and hassle) to hire an outside photographer? Also, can we replace the photography bits of the package with other accommodations, like music or more floral? I'm assuming "No" but please let me know if you've had success negotiating this point. If we stayed with the 'included' photographer, we'd probably add more photography time and the DVD of images, which I think would tack on ~$2,000. I think I'd rather spend an extra $4K on a photographer I trust than $2K on someone I'm forced to use, but I'd love to hear differing opinions.
2. A lot of these Caesar's packages come with a floral dollar amount included - how far will that stretch? I'm not picky about flowers (I'm not even all that fond of roses), but would enjoy doing my own or even making silk or paper flower bouquets if it will balance with the surcharge. Photography is a much bigger deal to us so If I can get away with the included $200-$300 floral for 1 bridal and 3 bridesmaids, I can always do something crafty for the reception instead.
3. Based on photos, it looks like the Gigi Room at Joe's doesn't need a lot of dressing up - maybe just some centerpieces. Any confirmation of this?
4. For those who "DJ'ed" their own reception with an iPod - would you do it again? What tips do you have?
5. Will we be able to reserve the ceremony and reception space so far in advance? We're going in July/August, hoping to pick a date in June/July 2014.
Thank you sooo much for your help and if you have any recs for other venues to check out while scouting that would also be really great!