“How much is the cost-of-wedding-DJ?” or “How much should I expect to pay for a wedding DJ for a 4-hour wedding reception”.
The bad part about this is the answers are all a bunch of misinformation that can do nothing but lead a bride asking the question in the wrong direction, So we are going to try our best to answer the question here.
The average cost for a 4 hour Wedding DJ
The average cost for a 4-hour wedding can vary depending on what kind of quality you want, and state you’re getting married in. I am sure you have heard the horror stories about the tacky DJ or the DJs that only play certain types of music. Generally, here is a breakdown of what you should expect to pay for certain kinds of DJs in the Southwest Region:
$200 – $300 Typically a beginning DJ, most likely a part-time hobbyist.
$400 – $600 More experience than the beginners, but most likely a part-time DJ.
$1,000 – $2,500 Most experienced, professionally trained, full-time DJ.
Now you should base your budget on what kind of experience you want at your wedding reception. Candidly, if your budget is really limited to the first group, you are probably better off saving the money by having a friend DJ your wedding with an iPod. This way, you won’t risk having someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, plays inappropriate music, or making inappropriate announcements.
The $400 -$600 range DJs are more prone to making mistakes because they don’t have time to prepare for your wedding. After all, most probably have another full-time job, so they can focus less on the success of your wedding! If this is your budget, you might find a gem in this group, but you run the risk of having a DJ who is not well-prepared or just “shoots from the hip”.
The $1,000 – $2,500 DJ’s are making this kind of money for a reason. It is typically because they are well trained, experienced professionals that do it for a living and commit all of their time to make sure the weddings they do are as close to perfect as they can be. They do not have another job getting in the way of them making sure everything is perfect. They also typically spend anywhere from 20-40 hours of time, making sure your 4-6 hour wedding reception is perfect. This kind of preparation shows through in their accessibility to help you with questions, coordination, and suggestions to help drive the success of your wedding.
What are the factors that affect the cost of a DJ?
The most difficult hurdle anyone faces when comparing the cost of a wedding DJ to other disc jockeys in that area is figuring out if two DJs are even comparable, to begin with. In any given area, the price of a wedding DJ ranges from extremely low ($100 or even free in some cases) to quite high (over $4000 for the top DJ in a few major cities). With such a wide range, we needed to figure out the best way to compare prices. Ultimately, we determined that how much a DJ costs in a given area is determined by three main factors – Date/Time/Location (DTL), Equipment, and Client Expectations.
Date / Time / Location (DTL)
Not all dates are created equal. In some areas like Southern California, the weather is nice year-round, and couples can get married in February without even considering the weather. For most areas of the country, however, the weather plays an important role (especially due to the threat of snow) which leads to there being a “wedding season” and an “off-season” in most locations. Generally speaking, weddings between April and October cost more than weddings occurring November through March. Saturdays are the most popular (and therefore most expensive) day of the week for weddings because guests don’t need to take off work on a Friday or be back at work on Monday after a Sunday night wedding. Weeknight weddings between Monday and Thursday are, in most cases, significantly less expensive than weddings on the weekends.
The time of day didn’t seem to be much of a factor in determining the price. However, a few DJs we found did offer lower pricing for daytime weddings on Saturday if it would be done by 4 pm and they could book themselves on a “double” – a wedding from 11 am-4 pm and then another wedding that evening. Most DJs seemed to understand that doing two weddings in a day is both logistically challenging and physically exhausting, and the overwhelming majority of the DJs we found only did one wedding per day. While the time of day was not a large factor in pricing, the number of hours of the wedding is a big factor in determining the cost of a wedding DJ. Some DJs offer an hourly rate with no minimum, others will do an hourly rate with a 4 or 5-hour minimum and then charge per hour (the same, less, or more than their standard rate) for overtime beyond their minimum. We were surprised to find that very few DJs did what we do at MyDeejay and offer a flat-rate, all-inclusive package – although we did find a few.
The location also appeared to be a major factor in determining wedding DJ prices. The distance a DJ needed to travel for a wedding was often mentioned as an additional cost added on to the price of a DJ if it was more than a certain number of miles. In some areas like New York City, there were additional charges for weddings in specific areas like Manhattan, where traffic can be difficult, and the cost of parking is extremely high. We also found that some DJs would charge extra for specific venues with a difficult load-in, such as a second-floor ballroom with no elevator that forces the DJ to hand-carry all of their equipment up two flights of stairs.
All three of these factors – Date, Time, and Location – seemed to be fairly universal in terms of their effect on how much a DJ charges for a wedding, although the actual amounts charged and the system used to determine the price were all over the spectrum. We decided to combine them into one main factor we dubbed “DTL” for the purposes of our experiment and began to compile data on the other factors that contribute to wedding DJ pricing.
Type of event
One of the biggest factors in your DJ costs will be the type of party you are hosting. As you might expect, wedding DJs cost more than a DJ for a graduation party or anniversary. But did you know that DJs for coming-of-age parties often cost more than wedding DJs? Thumbtack research, culled from tens of thousands of Thumbtack quotes, has shown that bar and bat mitzvah DJ services can cost more than wedding DJ services. In fact, in 2015, bar mitzvah DJs were 32 percent more expensive than wedding DJs and 93 percent more expensive than the average birthday party. This is because the DJs are working double-time, simultaneously serving as MC, DJ, crowd control, joke master, and dance instructor all rolled into one. If you’ve ever tried entertaining a banquet hall full of tweens, you will understand.
Length of event
DJing may seem like a dream job, but it’s also a lot of work. DJs are on their feet, keeping their eye on the crowd and managing the overall mood of the party, staying one step ahead of events and working closely with the party host or event coordinator to keep the event on schedule. That’s why the number of hours a DJ is hired to spin music will affect the cost of services. Many DJs offer packages that include a set number of hours, with flexible pricing to accommodate additional hours.
DJs may charge an hourly rate that fluctuates depending on the type of event you are hosting. For example, a DJ may charge $75 per hour for corporate parties and $100 per hour for weddings. Other DJs may have hourly rates that decrease the longer you book them for. The initial rate takes into account their operating costs and the time and effort required of them to prepare for your event, drive to your location and set up. If you book them for more hours, many DJs are able to offer lower hourly rates since they are already on-site with their equipment and ready to party. Here are some examples of how to party length can change average service rates from DJ Memo Entertainment in Modesto, California:
- 2-hour prom/high school dance: $350
- 3-hour prom/high school dance: $450
- 4-hour prom/high school dance: $500
- 5- or 6-hour prom/high school dance: $600
Being a Wedding DJ
Wedding DJs can make or break a wedding reception. The personality of your wedding DJ can set the mood for the entire affair, especially if you are having them provide MC services in addition to playing music. DJ RB of Alexander Sound Entertainment in Austin, Texas, recommends that you should find a wedding DJ you would be proud to introduce to your whole family. If you are hiring a DJ for your wedding, be sure they meet any requirements of your venue, including liability insurance.
DJ services typically cost more for a wedding than for a regular birthday party or gathering of friends. Henry Richard of A Touch of Class DJ Service in Chicago explains that the higher pricing reflects the fact that weddings require more work for a DJ than many other functions. DJs average 15-20 hours of effort, including pre-wedding consultations, working with the timeline and creating special playlists to ensure the perfect wedding day, says Richard. In the Chicago area, wedding DJ costs often range between $1,000 and $2,500, according to A Touch of Class DJ Service. Higher prices in the range can include premium DJ services with add-on services such as a full lighting package, a subwoofer sound package, a digital video wall, custom monogram lighting or other features.
There’s a reason you don’t want your niece to DJ your 30th birthday party. Even if she has fabulous taste in music, unless she has professional sound equipment, your big party will sound like it’s being played on a home stereo. The money that professional DJs invest in their equipment is part of the reason they charge the rates they do. The more high-tech the sound system, the larger investment on the part of the DJ. A Touch of Class DJ Service says that DJs might bring anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 worth of music and sound equipment to an event. If you want an upgraded package that includes lighting and other special effects, that requires even more valuable equipment. This is also why it’s important to hire a DJ who has the appropriate insurance coverage.
When you hire a DJ, they expect you to have requests and preferences about the music you want played. Their fees account not just for the time they spend spinning songs at your party, but also for the time they spend preparing by making playlists and organizing music for your event. Requests for obscure music can increase costs — especially if it’s something the DJ does not already own, requiring him or her to download the music or find it elsewhere. Don’t be shy about communicating freely with your DJ about must-hear songs and the overall mood you want.
DJ as the Master of Ceremony
The total cost of DJ services may increase if the DJ is asked to emcee the event as well as provide music. Acting as the MC can include announcing activities, keeping the event on schedule and more. Some DJs automatically include MC services in the cost of their package, so be sure to ask if this is the case. Be sure to let the DJ know if you don’t want them to provide any MC services. Some DJs like to urge people to get on the dance floor or talk to the crowd over the mic unprompted. If you prefer the DJ to keep their service to the tunes, just communicate that clearly with them during the hiring process.
Some DJs offer flat rates for their services, without any time limits. This means that if you hire them for two hours or seven hours, the price will be the same. For example, Price Entertainment in Edmonds, Oklahoma, charges a flat fee of $650 for weddings and events within an hour’s drive. If you hire them for a wedding, that price includes rehearsal walk-throughs, ceremony, reception, setup and tear-down. It also includes wireless microphones for toasts and officiant, dance floor lights, uplighting and music downloads. Price Entertainment does have a travel fee which can affect their flat rate. If the destination is within a two-hour drive, the flat rate is $775, and if the destination is within a three-hour drive or further, the rate is $900.
Size of event
Large weddings and parties can increase the DJ bill if additional speakers, microphones or upgraded sound equipment is required to serve the crowd properly.
Number of DJs
For longer events, more than one DJ may be needed to keep the music going and guests engaged. More people on the job will likely increase the cost of services. Twin Spin Entertainment in Dublin, California explains that for large events that need to be executed with precision, the DJ will hire assistants to help with setup and breakdown. These extra hands will be reflected in the rates for the event.
A well-known or highly sought-after DJ will often cost more than a DJ who is just starting or is not as well-known. If you want to book a world-famous DJ like Calvin Harris for your big summer blowout, you can expect to pay $100,000 or more efficiently. Local DJs with regional celebrity won’t cost in the hundreds of thousands, but you may expect to pay more than the average $500 DJ party cost.
Just how fabulous do you want your party to be? A professional DJ service can transform your affair from conference-room drab to spectacular nightclub vibe with their cool props and toys. In addition to spinning music, many full-service DJ companies offer a range of add-ons. For indoor and outdoor events, you can often choose from a selection of lighting packages. Lighting can include uplighting for the dance floor or a full-scale disco-spotlight and strobe-light extravaganza. Many pro DJs have packages that include temporary dance floors for indoor or outdoor events. Some even have mirrored dance floors.
Other fun DJ add-ons include smoke machines, bubble machines, staging, microphones and more. Of course, all of these services add to the overall cost. For example, a Pennsylvania-based company charges $400 for playing at a 4-hour event with their standard DJ services ($100 for each additional hour). This price includes music, sound, event coordination beforehand, announcements during the event, and simple lighting setup. To upgrade to a midrange package that includes a subwoofer sound system, a rotating light system and two laser lights, the cost increases to $650 for up to 4 hours ($150 for each additional hour). To upgrade from the midrange package to a premium package to include a UV cannon light and LED UV par can light, the cost increases to $800 for up to 4 hours of service ($200 for each additional hour).
What is included in a wedding DJ’s price?
If you’re feeling some sticker shock at wedding DJ prices, remember there’s a lot more to a wedding DJ’s role in your wedding day than simply showing up to your reception and playing music. Here’s a list of what a wedding DJ’s cost includes:
Time: Not only does the cost of a wedding DJ include the hours he or she will be performing at your wedding, but it also consists of the time it takes for your music pro to prepare for your big day. Before your wedding, your DJ will spend time creating your playlist and a unique script for your wedding. And on your wedding day, your DJ will travel, set up, perform, and break down—note that if he or she has to travel a long distance to your wedding, you may incur an additional charge.
Equipment: The last thing you want on your wedding day is for your DJ’s equipment to break—so part of a DJ’s fee goes to purchasing and maintaining the most up-to-date equipment including (but not limited to) speakers, microphones, and more.
Music: It’s true—your DJ actually has to buy his or her music, and you certainly want to make sure that he or she has lots of songs from which to choose!
Operational costs and insurance: These include things like paying rent on an office, business licenses, and marketing costs. You’ll also want to make sure that your DJ is insured—this protects you, your DJ, and your venue in the unlikely event that equipment is damaged or someone is injured due to your DJ’s equipment.
When should I book my wedding DJ?
Wedding DJs are among the first vendors of a couple of books. We recommend hiring your music pro for at least eight months before your wedding day. You will likely meet with your wedding DJ at least once before your wedding date, probably two to six weeks beforehand, to discuss your playlist, your timeline, and any other important details.
Do wedding DJs also provide lighting?
87% of wedding DJs offer lighting services as well as music, with the starting price for uplighting averaging around $250. If you’d like to have your wedding DJ provide lighting, there are a few questions you should ask before adding this service to your package:
- Have you provided lighting at my venue before?
- What types of lighting can you provide?
- Can I see photos of your past work?
- How much will lighting cost?
So, Wedding Band or DJ? (Or Both)
The decision is entirely up to you and your partner. If you’re struggling with the choice, think about the songs you’d like to hear at your wedding reception. If you absolutely need to hear Whitney Houston sing at your reception, then maybe a DJ is the way to go. But if you’d rather hear a special guitar solo live, then a wedding band might be your best choice. Either way, these wedding pros will ensure that your dancefloor is packed all night long.
Of course, you don’t have to choose between a DJ or a band. If you want both pros at your wedding reception, you can book both. Split the time between a band and a DJ for the ultimate wedding reception. Or, you can hire one vendor for your reception and the other for your after-party. Either way, you’ll get all the excitement of live music plus all the variety a DJ offers.