Aside from perhaps the booze, the DJ is arguably what guests look forward to the most at a wedding. An awesome wedding DJ does more than just play music. They are the emcee for your big day. The DJ will introduce your wedding party, instruct guests on when they should be seated and when they should hit the dance floor, quiet the room for toasts, and more. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about the average wedding DJ cost and what you can expect from this important person at your celebration.
Wedding DJ Cost Factors
Like other elements of your wedding, the cost of a DJ depends on a variety of things. Of course, DJs are more expensive in larger metropolitan areas. In more rural locations, where the cost of living is generally lower, the price will be less.
The time of year when you’re getting married will come into play, as well. Some DJs will be able to offer a discount in the off season or during the week, whereas a Saturday in June will always be full price.
Most DJs will be willing to travel within a reasonable distance from their home base. Some will charge an extra fee per mile outside of their accepted radius. There also may be extra charges in particularly congested cities where parking is expensive and it’s more difficult to load and unload equipment.
Wedding DJ Packages
Most DJs will offer an all-inclusive package for necessary audio equipment. A professional DJ will have his or her own audio equipment, wireless microphones, and sound system. If you want additional strobe lighting in your wedding colors and a fog machine, chances are your DJ can offer this for an extra charge. Some DJ companies even offer photo booths and other means of entertainment.
Be careful to read the fine print. Instead of an inclusive package, some DJs will charge a la carte for equipment needed and setup time required. In this case, large weddings can rack up a high cost. Additionally, some DJs will charge a flat fee for the entire wedding — from the ceremony through the reception — while others will charge by the hour. Be sure to review several options to find the best price in your area.
What Does a Professional Wedding DJ Actually Do?
Great wedding DJs are a lot more than disk jockeys who simply play music. They are aces at helping your wedding go smoothly. They will help you create and stick to a timeline. They will keep the mood going from the ceremony to cocktail hour and through the reception. They make stellar introductions and direct guests to where their attention should be at a given time.
Most DJs will have their own database for you to record your favorite songs, must-have playlists, and songs to avoid. You can also provide them with your wedding party names and any other announcements you’d like them to handle. The right DJ can advise on the best flow and timing for the first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance as well as things like the cake cutting, toasts, and bouquet toss.
And, of course, a DJ creates a great dance party! Good DJs know how to keep the mood going with a balance of upbeat and slow songs. They’ll also be the one to announce things such as last call and offer information about your transportation and after-party.
Plus, professional wedding DJs are used to coordinating with other wedding vendors. They can talk to your officiant about microphones and work with your wedding planner on order of events, for example.
Average Wedding DJ Prices
So how much does a wedding DJ cost? According to My Deejay, there are too many variables to offer a single answer to that question. There are, however, trends in certain demographics. Here’s the consensus on the average wedding DJ cost:
- A wedding DJ in a major metro area will run anywhere from $1,600 to $2,200. This is the average cost for a professional DJ with a good reputation. It covers the DJ and equipment for a four- to six-hour wedding reception, but doesn’t include lighting and other services.
- In smaller cities, the average is slightly lower, between $1,400 and $2,000. Again, this is for DJ services and equipment only.
- In rural areas and cities with a lower cost of living, the price range is somewhat reduced. You can expect to pay $1,000 to $1,600 for the DJ only.
A Word on Cheap DJs
A quick Google search for “wedding DJ cost” yields a Thumbtack statistic citing that the national average cost of a wedding DJ is between $325 and $660. It’s true that there are very cheap DJs available on Craigslist and Thumbtack for as low as $150. They serve couples with low expectations and minimal budgets.
But there’s an important caveat to keep in mind: A full-time DJ could not afford to offer such low prices because they’ve invested so much in their equipment. Chances are, these low-cost DJs have borrowed or use cut-rate equipment. Most don’t have many verified reviews, so there isn’t a way to ensure their reliability.
If a DJ is a nice-to-have and not a must-have part of your wedding, it may be worth the risk. If you have high expectations for a DJ and emcee for your wedding day, it’s best to invest in the real thing.
How to Save Money on Your Wedding Music
According to Here Comes the Guide, music should be about 8% of your overall wedding budget. Of course, live music will cost more than a DJ. The average cost of a wedding band is about $4,247 — double what you can expect to spend on a DJ. A ceremony musician will cost about $797.
One way to save money on wedding music is to work with a professional wedding DJ who can provide a flat rate for all of your music. Save on music costs with a DJ who will do the ceremony music, cocktail hour, and reception for one set price.
If you have a small budget, a well-curated Spotify playlist is another option. Talk to your venue about the sound system and if you’ll need an adapter for a cell phone or iPod. For streaming music, be sure to upgrade to the “premium” subscription service. Nothing will kill the dance mood like an advertisement in the middle of a playlist.
Get Ready to Cha Cha Slide
Wedding DJ pricing isn’t cheap. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500 and more for additional services like lighting and photo booths. But a great wedding DJ is an important part of your wedding planning and worth the investment. You’ll have a professional emcee for the entire day who can keep your celebration moving and lead guests throughout your wedding timeline.
For the best price, pull quotes from several DJs in your area. Compare what they offer and take note of varying pricing structures (flat fee vs. hourly, for example).
Be diligent about reading reviews and be sure to schedule a quick phone call or Facetime. If your personalities are a match, you’re sure to have a smooth experience as well as an unforgettable, fun time on the dance floor.