One of the most important things to think about when you are engaged is pretty obvious; when are we having our wedding, where are we having our wedding, and who are we going to choose as our wedding vendors. But in your research trying to find a Wedding DJ you have almost certainly run into a wide range of pricing from as low as $150 while many in the many-of-thousands. So why do Wedding DJ prices vary?
Searching For “The Best Deal”
As a customer, you want to find the best deal you can. It’s instinct. It’s bread into our DNA to bargain. For instance, if you were shopping around for a HDTV you most likely would simply not choose the highest price around. You would research around for the best quality within your budget and gravitate towards the lowest price based off your criteria. But would you buy something from a questionable source just to save money? Likely not.
A lot of people don’t realize this also holds true when it comes to entertainment services like photography, event planners, and wedding DJ services. And this is the trap some people will fall into when searching for a professional wedding DJ. They will see the $150 Craigslist DJ, another with a service averaging say $1500, and one that charges $5000. They may stumble across a few articles on how this couple found this DJ for just a couple hundred dollars, and then your judgement could become clouded by treating the DJ like a commodity.
You may think that all DJs are the same. But that is farthest from the truth. Each DJ has their own personality, their own special set of skills and capabilities, they own experience to draw from. Some employ a wealth of technology to assist in delivering a top quality product, some just simply show up without much forethought on how to conduct the night. The most important thing to ask in this moment is “will this DJ make this a night truly remarkable or will the DJ ruin it” because you really do not get a second chance at this.
This is one of the reason why a quality wedding DJ commands $1000, $2000, $3000 or more. Experience, quality, value, the ability to craft not only the night’s entertainment but how it ebbs and flows throughout.
In the law of averages, there are some guidelines to consider For instance here in the Hudson Valley, a quality professional wedding DJ costs ~$1500. You should use this as your baseline, your absolute minimums for your entertainment consideration.
The Misconception Of “Hours”
Many brides and grooms interviewed after a wedding feel that the DJ was the most important element of the entire wedding. The DJ is in control of the tempo of the wedding and the direction that the event takes with each song that is selected and also is managing the evening with the venue and other vendors if a wedding coordinator hasn’t been hired. Now there is some confusion when it comes to choosing a wedding DJ because many brides and grooms initially ask the question “how much and how many hours”? When thinking of hours, what you typically see on a website including mine lists the hours of performance time. The catch here is a professional wedding DJ will consult with you from day one and throughout the time till your special day, sometimes spending 15, 30, or even more hours on your event alone. I have a pretty interesting breakdown of it all on my article What Does A DJ Actually Do At A Wedding.
Equipment & Investment
Now some people will read this section and say “well who cares what a DJ spends on their business” and they are right to a point. But given the great discrepancies between the “Cheap DJ” and other DJs I felt it as part of my duty to inform the general public on some of the very basics of what a Wedding DJ needs to invest in to maintain a high quality level of service for their customers. This is really a key in determining the type of wedding DJ you should hire is the amount of time and effort that they will invest in your event and their own business. Take into consideration the high cost of purchasing professional DJ equipment. Audio, playback, lighting, redundancy; they can all cost tens of thousands or even hundred of thousands of dollars. Below is an example of what a typical “Cheap DJs” investment would look like versus what I, as a single-person-operation, personally brings to a standard 150 guest Ceremony & Reception service and this only covers providing an audio setup. This also does not include your typical yearly recurring costs like music purchase and subscription services, insurance, and other operation expenses for the day.
The "Cheap DJ" Setup
- Inexpensive Laptop: $350
- Inexpensive Speakers: $500
- DJ Controller: $300
- Corded Microphone: $50
The Professional Investment
- Two Top End Laptops: $6000
- Speakers and Subwoofers: $4000
- Mixer and Backup: $3600
- Decks and Backups: $3000
- Wireless Mics and Transmitters: $5000
- Multiple External Drives: $500
- Digital Post Mixers: $1600
- Cases, Cables, Etc. $1800
A “Cheap DJ” does not take into account all these variables while a Professional DJ takes the time and effort to invest in their clients and their business to produce repeatable services and have a very successful wedding night that is free of issues and interruptions. And yes those figures are not a joke or some pie in the sky numbers. A professional DJ can spend 17x, 25x or even more than the “cheap DJ”. Over the past few years technology has drastically lowered the bar on the price of entry-level equipment which has birthed the phenomenon that “anyone can be a DJ”. The thing is these so-called DJs do not have the experience you will need to make sure your wedding entertainment goes off without a hitch and part of that is a requirement of serious investment in their equipment which professional DJs consistently updates their equipment to keep up with new technology trends or to retire older equipment.
One big complaint you will hear about low-cost wedding DJ services is unreliability. The DJ showed up late (or not at all), the DJ did not come prepared for the event, the DJ did not act in a professional manner. This can ruin an event, or worse it can ruin an entire industry where low costs and low quality appears to be the norm. A professional DJ will give you all the assurances necessary, a contract to protect you, impeccable references, and a professional and friendly attitude from start to finish. You will never have to worry about reliability with the professional DJ.
Price vs. Value
This is the big one, the largest factor you should consider in choosing your wedding DJ. VALUE. If that DJ cannot over real value for your wedding then you should look elsewhere. But what is value? A great wedding DJ goes well beyond just playing music, but is in charge of the ebb and flow of the entire wedding. They will know what you want to hear and not want to hear from the planning meetings leading up to your wedding. They will know the names of your most important guests, they will establish relationships with the vendors and venue. They will know what to do when something goes not as planned and carry out a plan B, or plan C, anything to ensure your wedding is as stress free as it possibly can be. You can read more on what I typically do as a wedding DJ here. You only get one chance to walk down the aisle, one chance at introductions, one chance to have a great night of entertainment for your wedding. Choose value over price. Choose experience over the bottom line.
This is the value that the professional DJ offers.
Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative
Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres. Coincidentally Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.