What Is the Average Price For A Wedding DJ?
I was wondering what the average prices are for wedding DJs. When I did my research, these are the answers I discovered.
So what is the average price for a wedding DJ? The average cost is around a hundred dollars per hour. Additional items such as equipment, photo booths, and if the DJ will be the Master of Ceremonies makes a difference in the cost. Playing music at the ceremony, during the cocktail hour or through dinner also adds to the cost of the DJ. DJs offer different levels of pre-wedding consultations.
A phone call to talk about general music preferences will cost less than hours of planning and crafting specific playlists. A Dj will usually agree to a predetermined amount of hours to work the event. Some DJs can be convinced on the spot to work overtime and keep playing for a party in full swing and others will not. If the DJ does stay for extra hours the overtime is generally more expensive than the standard rate for the first few hours. If setup or tear down is particularly challenging the DJ may charge extra for that. Some DJs have package deals that cut the price by a small margin. These factors make the difference:
A wedding DJ can range from an independent worker with a computer and a speaker to someone backed by a large company that offers a full menu of wedding services. DJs will often offer wedding needs that go beyond music including lighting, photography experiences and even wireless microphones for use by officiants or anyone giving a toast. Generally, as the services are added on the cost of the DJ goes up. But since you are bundling you might find that individual costs go down.
Some packages include uplighting for the room where the reception is or specific lighting for the dance floor. The best DJs know that the guests won’t come out and dance in a room that is lit up like it’s noon at the beach.
DJs can also serve as audio specialists bringing wireless microphones for the ceremony officiant or for those making toasts at the reception. Some couples ask the DJ to provide music not only for the reception, but also for the cocktail hour or during the dinner. Sometime the DJ is asked to provide the music at the actual ceremony, as well.
Some DJs act as emcees introducing the wedding party and letting guests known when events like the cutting of the cake or special dances are happening. DJs might bring props with them like fog machines for ambiance or machines that shoot confetti into the air or display screens that allow the guests to see themselves out on the dance floor. Other DJs bring along everything needed for a photo booth from the camera to the props.
DJ wedding packages also include set amounts of consultation time before the reception to work through different ideas for playlists and whether or not guests will be allowed to request songs. Alternately, find out if you can give the DJ a “do not play” list. If watching your guests act out “YMCA” would make you cringe, see if your DJ will skip it. While every DJ knows that the bride is always right, it’s good for him or her to know what songs are special to the couple getting married or even what songs are special to the parents of the bride and the groom. The couple planning the wedding may be able to give the DJ a good feel for the songs that always draw their friends out onto the dance floor.
Sometimes the tier of service determines how large a music library the DJ brings to the wedding and how diverse the songs are going to be. More experienced DJs update their libraries every week to bring both the newest songs and the latest and greatest to the reception.
Many wedding DJs offers three different tiers of pricing with one basic set of services and extras added on at levels two and three.
Reputation of The DJ
DJs who are well known around your town will charge more than those who haven’t built up quite the same reputation. DJs make a name for themselves when they are referred by couples to other couples, when wedding guests go home remembering a great experience and through positive online reviews. Some successful DJs will be able to build a business around their own name, but they have a staff of other DJs that work for them at lower prices.
If you haven’t recently attended a wedding with an outstanding DJ, start asking around about other people’s experiences as the bride and groom or as wedding guests. Maybe they will be able to tell you about a wedding DJ that did a particularly good job keeping the party going.
Another important part of the reputation of the DJ is finding one that does a really good job playing the music you and your guests will love. DJs can’t be specialists in every genre of music. Some will do a great job bringing back the days of disco and others will make the 90s sound better than they did the first time.
The most experienced, and most expensive DJs will be able to read the room. They’ll have a song at the ready to get the friends of the bride and groom’s parents out on the dance floor and they’ll follow it up with something the younger crowd loves, too. The best of the best keep an eye out for who isn’t dancing and try to figure out what music will draw them out.
In general, DJs who cost less haven’t established a reputation or don’t have as much as experience with weddings. A casual and informal wedding may not need anything more than someone with a library of songs to play. A larger wedding with hundreds of guests may benefit from a DJ with the experience to move from one step of the party to another and gauge what will please the crowd.
You can look for online reviews about your DJ on some of the established wedding sites like The Knot or Weddingwire. The DJ may offer you a list of references but obviously those will be people who have agreed to give a great review. For a more honest assessment of the DJ’s reputation pick a random weekend date and ask for the contact information for that couple. Give them a call or send tham a message and ask specific questions about their event.
And beware of a DJ who tells you to just drop by a wedding to check it all out. The DJ doesn’t have the authority to invite extra guests to someone else’s reception. And if that DJ spends part of the night at that wedding talking with prosepctive clients, you can expect the same thing to happen at your wedding reception.
Logistics at the Venue
Find out ahead of time if your DJ has worked with your venue and has a procedure for setting up and tearing down. If it’s not close by your DJ may charge you for travel time.. If it’s a challenging setup that takes more than the usual amount of time that may cost extra, too. It’s one thing for a DJ to plug into a ballroom at a local hotel. Its another thing for the DJ to have to run cables from the main house, across the field and down to the barn just to have electricity at the reception. If the DJ needs special accomodations from the venue for setup and tear down that may cost extra, too.
It is also a good idea to ask the DJ for proof of liability insurance. The pros will be able to provide a certificate with this proof. If something goes wrong and it’s the DJ’s fault but there’s no liability coverage in place, you could be responsible for additional costs.
And find out if there is a backup DJ that is available if something happens to the DJ you booked. Illness or a family emergency can get in the way at anytime. Your reception might not be the same if the DJ is battling a bad case of laryngitis and can’t talk to the crowd.
How Long Will the DJ Play?
You and your guests may be ready to dance all night, but you have to make sure your DJ is in it for the long haul, too. Most DJ contracts and packages specifiy how many hours the DJ will be working at your wedding. Most DJs set the minimum number of hours they will work at a wedding reception is four. Hiring a DJ for six hours is very common and some brides and grooms planning large weddings will want to book the DJ for longer than that. Some couples watching their wedding budgets save money by shaving an hour or two of DJ time.
Before signing on with a DJ find out the policy for extra hours. If the DJ is booked for five hours and you hit that mark and the party is rolling with no end in sight, does the DJ just say goodnight and leave the stage? How much will the DJ charge to work overtime? Find out if there is a maximum number of extra hours. Some DJs will be glad to work and extra hour or two, but won’t extend the job past that. Sometimes the payment for extra hours is due at the end of the night in cash since it was outside the payment specifications in the contract.
The best DJs agree that the minimum amount of time to let guests dance at the reception is two hours. But they are on the job for much more than those two hours. They have to get the party started and work their way toward a full playlist. They may need to play host during the time when the bride and groom come forward to dance with their parents and then open up the dance floor for other guests. There are stops and starts for cake cutting, bouquet tossing and garter throwing. That’s how DJ hours move from two hours to four or six – and that’s just for the reception. Add on more hours for ceremony, cocktail party or dinner music and the cost of having a DJ rises with every extra hour you need.
Another important question is to find out about the number of breaks your DJ will need and how long each break lasts. You can ask if it costs extra to requst “filler music” while the DJ is having a break and a bite to eat.
Is the DJ supposed to be a visible personality?
Some DJs are natural performers like radio disc jockeys while others prefer to get lost in the music. It is more expensive to hire a DJ who is going to be a huge part of the entertainment than one who fades quietly into the background. Different styles of receptions and different crowds call for different levels of participation by the DJs. Often the most well-known and most expensive DJs put on their best shows when they let their own personalities shine and they aren’t afraid to interact with their guests.
Other DJs do a solid job playing the music without inserting themselves into the festivities. They might cost less but will be perfect for brides and grooms who don’t want the entertainment to outshine them.
Is there a time limit on how long a DJ will play? There is no time limit except for the DJs discretion. If a DJ is open for the date and time, he can fit in any time limit the couple or party request. A second DJ may be called in if it is too much for one DJ.
How much is too much to pay for a wedding DJ? That depends on the couple’s budget and what the DJ has to offer. Shopping around is the best way to go about avoiding overpaying.
What if the DJ has an emergency and can’t make it? The original contract with the DJ should specify if there is an automatic back-up person standing by if something comes up and the DJ can’t fulfill the contract.
Should we tip the DJ? It’s a very common practice to tip the DJ at the end of the night if he or she did a great job. Some companies suggest 10 to 15 percent of the cost as a tip for the DJ.