We went straight to the pros—wedding DJs themselves—to get a breakdown of the many factors that actually go into their pricing to help you avoid sticker shock.
Photo: Megan Clouse Photography
If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it can be difficult to understand why a specific type of wedding pro costs what they do. For example, the average cost of wedding DJ services in the United States is $1,099, but what are the factors that go into that price? Well, turns out it’s more than meets the eye. We went straight to the pros—wedding DJs themselves—to get a breakdown of the many factors that actually go into their pricing to help you avoid sticker shock.
Staffing and Labor
When it comes to hiring a DJ, it’s really all about finding a person who has a great personality and who you genuinely like and trust. DJ companies expect a lot from their DJs, from the initial consultations to all of the communication with you (answering every email in a timely fashion, for example) and prep work in advance of your wedding and on the day of. It’s important that DJs are compensated for this so that the person you interview, think is awesome, and hire months before your wedding is the same person who will be there on your big day. The chunk of a DJ’s pricing may also cover the salary for other staff members who make sure the business runs smoothly and there are no hiccups in your communication, scheduling, or billing.
This one should be obvious—you’re paying for your DJ’s time. You’ll probably meet with your DJ at least once in advance of your wedding, and he or she will likely create a script and playlist specifically for your wedding in advance—that takes several hours of time, too. And on your wedding day, your DJ has to travel, set up, perform at your wedding, and break down. So even if you’re technically paying for your DJ to perform for four hours during your reception, there are many hours of work beyond that that you may not even see.
Gear Purchase and Upkeep
You probably want your DJ to have the most up-to-date, modern equipment to best serve your wedding—to make sure that everyone can hear the music, and that you aren’t left with “dead air” due to failing technology. It definitely costs money (read: thousands of dollars) to not only purchase the most state-of-the-art equipment, but also to make sure that everything, from computers to sound equipment and more, is working properly and to fix anything that isn’t. If lighting is part of your DJ’s package, this can be an added expense.
Yes, your DJ has to pay for his or her own music and they certainly need to have a lot of it! You’ll want to make sure that your DJ has access to the many thousands of songs that you or your guests might request, either in advance of your wedding or on the day of—and that costs money. And if your DJ is creating remixes or editing songs specifically for your wedding, that’s more time and cost.
There are lots of costs that go into running a business, both big and small. There are obvious costs like paying rent on office space, maintaining a website, business licenses, and utilities. But there’s also the cost of advertising and marketing materials. According to Jennifer Reitmeyer of MyDeejay in Annapolis, Maryland: “While we’re always trying to keep this cost down, it’s simply a fact of doing business that we need to constantly strive to reach the couples who will ultimately hire us.”
There’s also insurance, which is super-important for businesses, especially those handling events, meaning you’ll definitely want to make sure the wedding DJ you ultimately hire is insured. For example, if your DJ’s equipment gets damaged during your wedding or if someone is injured because of your DJ’s equipment, you or your venue might be held responsible. There are some venues that won’t allow uninsured DJs to work at their location—so it’s definitely important.
Special thanks to Jennifer Reitmeyer of MyDeejay in Annapolis, Maryland; Mike Walter of Elite Entertainment in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, Lee Edwards of Lee Edwards Entertainment in Charleston, South Carolina, and Kenneth "KC" Ham of DJ Kreations in Olathe, Kansas for their assistance with this article.