How Much is a DJ for a Wedding, Really?

Planning a wedding requires a LOT of decision-making. If you’re a bride, or a helpful groom reading this you already know this fact. And yes, we’ll talk about actual pricing when it comes to hiring a DJ, but first…

What is the cost of a wedding DJ?

Before you start thinking, that you want to get a really cheap DJ for your wedding day, I suggest you, STOP. Why? Because simply deciding on hiring a DJ because of his/her low price is not a great idea. There are some brides and grooms who think that it can’t be a tough job to DJ a wedding, so why should it cost a lot?

In order to make sure your wedding reception doesn’t cost you your reputation, here’s my advice.

When it comes to hiring a wedding DJ, let’s price it out as time is money. Here’s the amount of work that it really takes to prepare and DJ a wedding from a DJ’s point of view.

  1. First time meetings with couples via phone/zoom, or in person. Between 1-2 hours.
  2. Phone calls and email conversations before the wedding. This is the time to discuss the wedding details,, including bridal party introductions, special dances, timeline and more. Roughly 2-3 hours.
  3. Finalizing the details. Many people don’t realize, putting everything together to run smoothly at a wedding takes time. When I Dj a wedding, I have to compile all the brides wants and wished and make sure they’re all accounted for. I create a timeline, and outline how everything will run on wedding day. Roughly 2 hours.
  4. Getting the music ready. Before each wedding, I research the right music for cocktail hour, dinner hour and the, “dancing-hours.” Every couple has different tastes. I work with their music request lists to put together a musical night that has a terrific flow. 1 hour.
  5. It’s also our job to make sure that we have every song the bride and groom has in one of my music folders. Sure, nowadays you can download any song from Spotify, but during a wedding, the internet/cell signals can always go out. That’s why the best DJs always have, “Hard Copies”, of their music on their laptop or iPads. The show must always go on. Getting the music also involves finding every song on the wish list. Many times, we’ll have to hunt down a few songs we don’t have, and that can cost a few bucks more on Amazon. 1 Hour.
  6. The packup. This is where the physical part of the job starts. Loading up the DJ SUV. This is the part that most couples never think of. But it takes a good 2 hours to pack up all the DJ equipment needed for a wedding and pack it up into an SUV/Van. Personally, I pack everything that I need and a kitchen sink. My SUV is usually loaded to the hilt. 2 Hours.
  7. The drive. Varies.
  8. Unpacking and setting up. When you’re a wedding DJ, you’ll get your hands dirty, and you’ll also get sore shoulders. DJ equipment can be heavy. Hoisting it up onto speaker stands, running wire, and positioning all the equipment is not only tough, but stressful. You’re under a time crunch to make sure everything is perfect for when the first guests shows up. 3 Hours.
  9. The actual time for the Wedding Ceremony and/or Reception itself (kinda the easiest part). 5-7 Hours.
  10. The equipment breakdown after the wedding and ride home. 2 Hours.
  11. The next day. Putting all the equipment away. 1 Hour.

So, I hope you can see that being a wedding DJ isn’t just downloading music off Spotify and showing up with a microphone on the wedding day. It is SO much more involved.

Are there DJs you can hire for $250 for a wedding? Sure, but do you really think you’re going to get roughly 24 hours of high-quality attention from them?

And to be frank, this IS the time that your DJ will need for you to pull off a fantastic wedding day.

Now, the math…

  • They’re charging you $1,500 — you’re hiring them at about $60/hr.
  • They’re charging you $2,000 — $80/hr
  • They’re charging you $2,500 — $100/hr

These rates are just by examining a basic Wedding DJ setup. Expect to pay more for, dance lighting, uplights, your name in lights, fog machines, or any other above and beyond services.

And remember, when you hire a wedding DJ, you don’t have to rent the sound system, wireless, mics, etc. The DJ will bring it all with him/her. Just the rental of the equipment you would need would be at least $750. At least. And you would still need to hire someone to show you how to use it.

4 Comments

  1. I would like to add a few things to the timeline above. The initial phone call is an hour. This is just to introduce myself and see if we are a good fit for a face to face meeting. Our initial face to face meeting is generally two hours. In this time, I explain what makes me so different and gives me the opportunity to find out their needs and expectations. I introduce them to a whole new world. My market is two hours North of where I currently live. So I have a two hour ride each way for the face to face meeting. So I have 7 hours invested into every couple before I have even a confirmation that they are going to choose me. Not everyone books me, when they don’t, that’s 7 hours of my time invested without a payback.

    If they book, I write up a contract and send it out. As we get closer, I check in a couple times. When we are a month out, I have a second face to face meeting to go over final details. This is two hours and a 4 hour drive round trip again. Sometimes we record voice-overs for special dances. This adds another few hours. Now we are to the point of finding the music and putting it in specific folders. Then I have to listen to the music all the way through to make sure we have no surprises (skips etc.) on the special songs.

    My average Saturday is a 20 hour day by the time I leave my driveway until I roll back in. 7 hours of this is travel, set up and take down. In Wisconsin, most couples get married at 2:00 pm. That means that music has to be going at 1:30 as the guests arrive. More times than not, Midnight is the shut down time. So I have 10 and a half hours of actual play time invested.

    Thank you for posting this article. We really need to bring this to everyone’s attention!

    Scott Siewert
    TheFunDJ.com

  2. Not every “cheap” DJ is bad. I put in over 24 hours of prep into every Wedding and I’m still very reasonably priced. I dj for the love of music and making others happy. At the end of it all, if I come home with a couple hundred dollars, it’s a couple hundred dollars I wouldn’t have had just sitting home.

    1. 99% of the time, the price a DJ charges are in direct proportion to the price they charge. This is true for most established, long term, professional DJ companies. It does not apply to those that do this as a hobby (for the love of music or for making others happy. It applies to professional DJ’s that run their company as a business. What are a few of the other things that professional companies do that hobbyists sometimes don’t? They have a written business plan, they carry liability insurance and they book more than a handful of weddings a year.

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