Wedding DJ prices are all over the place…
Everything costs more than originally thought!
It’s not your fault!
The simple fact is, while there are more amateurs than ever before, and new technologies have made the barrier to entry easier into these crafts; the professionals will always stand out because they have put in the work, dedication, and drive to provide excellence in their service.
So where do people often end up when looking for price?
Simple, often times these averages don’t discern between the professionals and the amateurs.
I’ll use DJs as the example. According to one website, theknot.com, the average rate for a wedding DJ in 2017 was $1,231.
Why is this number extremely misleading? In a word: quality. It’s a poll from what couples reported they spent. It has no other qualifying factors to take into account – especially a question that really matters – was the person they hired an actual professional, and did the couple even like the service they received? Trust me, the profession that has the most “my friend does it” people are DJs (photographers a close 2nd). This average DJ cost number used by theknot.com includes the $200-$1,300 amateurs as well as the $1,300-$3,000+ professionals.
Why does it matter? The number one thing that couples say is most important to them at a wedding is that “everyone has a good time”. Since the DJ is the service provider that is going to have the most impact on this, who would actually want someone that isn’t working on a professional level?
What about a percentage?
DJs aren’t just DJs anymore…
Pro tip: if you can’t meet the potential spokesperson for your wedding up front, then it’s likely that the DJ service you’re speaking to doesn’t assign you a DJ till only a short time before your wedding. Do you want someone that only knows you on paper who’s never heard of you until two weeks before your wedding?
It has even grown beyond being an MC and a DJ
Uplighting, or any other decorative service a DJ can provide should be considered separate from your DJ budget. Services like lighting design (includes uplighting, downlighting, architectural lighting, etc.), pyrotechnics (if legal, and the DJ is properly licensed), and atmospheric effects for visual purposes (i.e. dancing on a cloud) are all things that should be under the “decorative” portion of the budget. If you factor decorative services under the entertainment portion of your budget, you’re robbing yourself of getting the best core service when it comes to your DJ.
Photobooth is something that should still be under the entertainment category, but then you need to factor towards the higher end of the percentage range. Also, keep in mind, that if you’re doing a ceremony in a non-traditional location (outside, not at a church), then the DJ can often-times offer a service to help with that too.
There is no such thing as same for less.
Don’t purchase equipment, purchase results.
- Is it of professional quality, and will they have backups in case something fails?
- Is the presentation of the equipment neat, clean, modern, and professional?
- Will the DJ’s lighting make my photos look like a unicorn decorated the place, or will it look classy?
- Does the DJ know how to use their equipment to its most effective extent to get you the results you want?
To illustrate the point. Here is a DJ that has decent quality equipment, but very poor presentation:
The other thing to consider is that with the DJ’s party lighting the photographer is going to have their work cut out for them, and it will likely reduce the quality of the images taken – especially with that laser.
One last thought on this topic:
Let’s say instead of a DJ you were picking out a carpenter to build you an heirloom bedroom set. Would you pick the carpenter that talks about what tools they purchase, or the carpenter that builds the highest quality, most beautifully designed furniture?
If we get back to talking about DJs, it’s the difference between the image above, and this:
So how much should I spend?
That being said, ask yourself what’s most important to you about your reception. If you are like most couples who say, “I want everyone to have a good time.” then be true to that statement, and make the DJ a high priority in your budget. They will make or break the reception, so invest in a high-end pro that will “make” the reception in an exceptional way. I gave a number example earlier in this post saying professionals are $1,300-$3,000+, and I believe that, at the time of writing this, that’s a fairly accurate range of low-end to high-end professionals in the Wisconsin market. Keep in mind that range is for a starting rate, and not a “package”. Below that price range will generally be amateurs, low-end/budget DJ farms (some that contact local amateurs the week of your wedding to send to your event), or the newly hired DJ on which the company is trying out on you.
How much is your wedding experience worth to you? Do you actually want average, or do you want an experience you and your guests can rave about?
A better way…
Normally when we shop for something, the first thing we think of is “What do I want?” Let’s take a TV for example. We don’t start off by saying, “I want to spend $500 on a TV.” We start off by thinking of size, features, brand, etc. i.e. “I want a 65″ Samsung TV with smart features and built in apps.” When it comes to choosing a DJ why not think of this the same way? i.e. “I want a DJ who can gracefully lead my event over the microphone, rock the dance floor, provide in-depth personalization, not be corny, and make my night unforgettable for the right reasons.”
Take a minute to figure out what you want in your DJ. Not sure what that is yet? Talk to DJs without bringing up price. Talk about the quality of the experience. What do they actually do for you? Do they make you feel like just another number, or is your wedding something they actually care about?