When couples start planning for their big day, often, one of the first things they cross off the list is taking care of the music. For your reception, you have a couple of options, with most people going for either a live band or a wedding DJ – or sometimes both.
Live bands can be expensive, which makes hiring a professional DJ a popular choice – so for anyone wondering how much they should be paying, here, we answer the question, how much does a wedding DJ cost?
Average wedding DJ Prices
When looking at hiring a DJ for your wedding, there’s a wide range of possible prices, and how much you pay will depend on many factors.
However, just so we know what we’re talking about, let’s start by looking at the kind of amounts you can expect to be charged for the musical services of a pro on your big day.
- Average cost: $800-1500
Most couples in the US pay in the region of $800-1500 for their wedding DJ
- Budget cost: $400
If you are looking to spend the least amount of money possible on your wedding DJ, you will probably be able to find someone who will do it for around $400.
- Top end: $2000+++
If you want the very best music and entertainment to keep your guests dancing all night, you can easily spend up to $2000 and beyond.
Breakdown of what you’re paying
There are two basic elements to what you are paying for, the flat fee the DJ charges, and the cost per hour. Before you factor in anything else, these are the basic charges you can expect to pay.
However, as we will see in a moment, there are many other factors to take into account that will mean you end up paying more than just these basic costs.
Flat fee: $250
The first part of what you’re paying is basically a flat fee for the DJ turning up and doing the job. This will be in the region of $250 but may vary greatly depending on your requirements and the DJs you are working with.
This charge covers the equipment they provide, the cost of traveling to the wedding, the time spent setting up at the beginning, and taking everything down at the end and all the other services they provide.
A good professional wedding DJ should be in contact with you before the event to enquire about the kind of music you want, any specific songs you want them to play, and all the other special details. These services should be included in the flat fee the DJ charges.
Fee per hour: $125
After charging a flat fee, DJs will then charge you by the hour for the time they spend actually playing music at the wedding.
This will probably be in the region of $125, so, for a four-hour DJ set, you would have to pay $500 for the performance on top of the $250 flat fee. However, again, this fee will depend on the DJs you choose to hire.
Some DJs have a minimum amount of time they will play, so, for example, you can’t book them to play for just one hour. If you want them to play for one hour only, you will still have to pay for their minimum number of hours.
Factors that can affect the prices
So now we’ve looked at the basic costs for a DJ, let’s think about the extras you need to consider that will see you paying more (or perhaps less) than this for the particular DJ you choose to hire and the service they provide.
For some of these, we give you an idea of how much extra you can expect to pay, but for others, we can’t give a figure since it will depend on the specifics of your wedding and the DJ you hire.
Equipment upgrade – $250
If you are having your reception in a larger venue that requires more powerful equipment than a standard wedding or if you just want louder, better-quality sound, you will have to pay extra for it. This could add around an extra $250 to your bill.
Outdoor location – $50-100
If you want to have music outdoors, the DJs will need extra equipment such as cables etc., so this kind of request may end up costing you a bit more.
It is difficult to put a price on this since it will depend on the location of your wedding – and it could be something you need to negotiate with the DJ – but you can expect to pay around an extra $50-100 for this.
Longer performances – extra DJ required
If you need music for a longer period, it may be necessary to have a second DJ to ensure there is no break in the music. One DJ may be able to play for four or even five hours, but any longer than this and a second DJ may be required.
This means the cost for a longer function will be more than just paying the regular hourly fee the DJ usually charges for a standard wedding because you need to pay for the extra person.
The travel costs for a DJ will usually be included in the flat fee you pay for their services. However, if you require a DJ to travel further to the venue, it is likely they will charge you extra. The amount you pay will depend on how far they have to travel.
Some DJs will include basic lighting as part of their package, but others will charge for this separately. This is something to check when hiring a DJ.
However, if you want any extras, you will need to pay more.
For example, if you want a smoke machine or more advanced lighting, this is likely to cost you extra. Similarly, a projection screen or karaoke will also require you to pay a supplement.
There are so many possibilities that wedding DJs can offer, so you are best off talking about the options they provide when you make contact with them to book their services.
Experience and quality
An important factor in determining the price is the experience and quality of the DJ. A more experienced DJ of many years and hundreds of weddings will probably charge you much more than a raw novice, both in terms of the flat fee and their hourly rate.
If you want a proven DJ who knows how to work a wedding crowd, you might decide to pay extra for the peace of mind that working with a seasoned pro can give you.
However, if the music is not one of your major concerns, you might feel comfortable paying less.
Bear in mind, though, that someone charging higher fees should (in theory) provide a more comprehensive service.
This means they should put more time into preparing for your event, they will be in contact with you more often to tailor their services to what you need and will provide a higher quality of service in general.
By choosing someone who charges budget prices, you may save yourself a bit of cash. However, you may also find that, beyond turning up for a few hours on the day and playing music, they offer a much more limited service in terms of catering to your specific needs.
Where you live
One last factor that can affect the price is simply your address – goods and services have different prices in different areas, and where you live will also affect how much you need to pay for your wedding DJ.
Tips on how to reduce the cost
As you can see, there are many factors that can add a considerable amount to what you end up paying for you your DJ, so what can you do to help keep the costs down? Let’s have a look at some tips now.
1. Opt for a shorter set
As we said, if you want music to be playing for longer, it’s going to cost you extra due to the need for a second DJ. This means you can cut the costs simply by deciding to hire a single DJ for a shorter time.
2. Use a playlist for part of your wedding
If you want music to be played all day, you don’t necessarily need a DJ to do it the whole time.
Depending on your plans, there might be times when you only need background music, in which case, paying a professional to play the tunes might be a waste of money.
You want a pro when you need someone to work the dancefloor, but you can just choose a playlist to put on when the music isn’t the focus.
3. Choose a cheaper DJ
We’ve already explained the pitfalls of hiring a cheaper, less experienced DJ. However, if you choose carefully, you may be able to find a highly professional and talented wedding DJ who charges less simply because they are just starting out.
If you can discover someone good through the recommendations of other people, this could be a great way of saving some cash.
4. Choose a venue that provides equipment
Some wedding venues provide their own musical equipment, in which case you only need to hire the DJ to actually play the music. This means you will pay less since you won’t need to pay the DJ for the equipment they bring.
5. Skip some of the extras
Think about the extras and consider skipping them. Do you need a smoke machine? Is the karaoke option essential? Do you have to have a screen to project photos of you and your beloved?
Consider the value you place on each of these items compared to how much you need to pay for them and ask yourself which ones you can leave out.
Relatively expensive – but important to get right
The cost of hiring a professional wedding DJ may seem high at first, but when you realize you are paying for much more than just someone to play music for a couple of hours, the price may seem more reasonable.
There are plenty of ways of saving yourself a lot of money, but a good professional DJ can provide real value, helping to ensure your big day goes perfectly. So, with this in mind, choosing a reliable and experienced pro to take care of the music can be a very smart choice.