How much should you spend on a DJ?
Updated: Mar 4, 2022
A recent Cost Guide released by Wedding Wire got me thinking...how do people know what to expect from their Wedding DJ, when they may receive quotes that range from $500 all the way up to $5,000 and more? I'll try and break it down for you here, so you have a better understanding what to expect at each price range.
The "Average" spent on DJ's in Chicagoland in 2021 was $1150 - with most couples spending between $895 and $1500. Are you hoping for an average wedding? To get exceptional results, you should expect an above average price. The benefits of hiring a DJ/Emcee who specializes in Weddings will account for over 80% of the success of your wedding! Listed below are some common price ranges, and what you can expect in each. Credit to Stefan Jez, and Uptown Express in Montreal for much of this content. #upx #mbevents #weddingpricing #djcostReferences
If your DJ charges $600 or less, expect
A DJ that will be a hobbyist. This person DJ's from time to time, and mostly for fun
A DJ with little to no experience DJ'ing at weddings
No planning - Don't expect the DJ to help you plan or coordinate your wedding
No Emcee - Don't expect a Master of Ceremonies
Attire - This DJ most likely will not be dressed appropriately
Equipment - Not likely to have high end professional equipment, and suitable back up equipment
Appearence - Loose and dangling wires, self promoting banners, dated set up
Lighting - No lighting included, or worse yet - dot style lights and/or laser lights
Limited hours - Priced based on performance hours. Late arrival and set up time
Musical knowledge - Limited overall musical knowledge. Illegal and/or low quality music files. Streaming music from YouTube. Unedited content
References - Limited reviews, videos, pictures or actual past customer references
Preparation Time - As little time as possible will be spent preparing before your wedding
If your DJ charges $600 - $1400, expect
A DJ with some wedding experience
They will make basic announcements as an Emcee
Minimal Planning - There may be some coordination and discussion of how you want your wedding to flow.
Multi-Ops - Companies with several (or many) DJ's. You may not be guaranteed a DJ or even meet your DJ until your wedding day.
Because you don't know your DJ, your wedding will most likely follow a script, and be very similar to every other wedding you have been to.
Attire - Most likely a suit, or at least a shirt/tie
Equipment - Professional equipment, but not likely to have back up equipment on site. Additionally, there may be extra charges for larger sound systems or "subs"
Some lighting included
Limited hours - Be aware of limitations on performance time, and arrival/set-up time
Musical knowledge - Should have a broader understanding of music, but maybe not a thorough understanding
References - Pictures and/or videos along with testimonials for company as a whole, maybe not individual DJ's
Preparation Time - Your DJ should spend at least a few hours preparing for your wedding
If your DJ charges $1400 - $2800, expect
A DJ with at least 5-10 years experience performing at Weddings
Personalized Service - Most likely a Single-Op and the person you work with will be the DJ/Emcee at your wedding.
A DJ and an Emcee - once you cross the $2000 mark, you can expect a team of both DJ and Emcee working together. The Emcee will have the freedom to move around the room and interact with your guests, while coordinating details with other vendors.
DJ and Emcee dressed in suits
Professional Equipment - additionally, the set up should be clean (no wires showing)
Clear sound - The DJ, as your sound engineer, has attended training to ensure the best possible sound for you and your guests. Clear, and crisp during speeches and dinner, with just the right volume for dancing. No extra cost for additional speakers.
Lighting included - tasteful lighting to match the mood
Hours not important - At this price range, and working with a single-op, you have the day reserved. Set up will be hours before the start time, and no hidden costs.
Musical knowledge - Extensive musical knowledge in all eras, and genres. The keen ability to seamlessly switch between eras. Ability to "Mix" songs together, keeping the dance floor filled with no gaps in music.
References - Your DJ will have many testimonials on several different sites
Preparation Time - Your DJ will likely spend 5-15 hours preparing for your event
If your DJ charges $2800 - $4500, expect
A DJ with over 10 years experience performing at weddings as a DJ and/or Emcee and will have formal training in the art of being a Master of Ceremonies and Story Teller
The utmost in personalized service. Through several planning meetings, the DJ/Emcee will learn everything about you, your family and your guests. A detailed timeline and flow will be discussed, and the Emcee will take control of the timing of the evening, making adjustments whenever necessary and keeping all vendors on the same page
A DJ and Emcee team that is comfortable working together. The Emcee will have the ability to work the crowd and interact with your guests
Completely Personalized - Your Master of Ceremonies will absolutely WOW your guests by adding creative, unique, and truly personalized touches to each moment at your wedding including introductions, speeches and special dances
Love Story - This is something unique to you and your fiancé, it is a story told by your Emcee about your relationship, how you met, experiences you’ve had together, the proposal, etc. This is a one of a kind story that will set your wedding apart from everyone else’s. Your Emcee has attended formal training in the writing, and sharing of this amazing moment
Customized Audio Edit: During a special dance, personal voice recordings of you and/or your fiancé are inserted into the original song to create something so unique there won’t be a dry eye in the room. This can be taken even further by adding the voice over along with a slide show
DJ & Emcee dressed in suits
Professional equipment with back up on site. Set up is clean, modern and elegant
Lighting included and programmed to match the mood
Hours not important - you have the entire day reserved. Set up will be complete at least 1 hour before your first guest is set to arrive.
Quality Sound - Crystal clear sound at just the right volume for each portion of your wedding. No extra charges when additional speakers are required for fill throughout larger rooms. A DJ with formal training to act as a sound engineer, making adjustments whenever needed.
Insurance - The DJ will have proper Liability Insurance. All DJ's should have this, and it's even required by some venues before the DJ is allowed to perform there.
Musical Knowledge - Extensive musical knowledge in all eras, and genres. The keen ability to seamlessly switch between eras. Ability to "Mix" songs together, keeping the dance floor filled with no gaps in music. Furthermore, the ability to fine tune the music adding in personal favorites of yours, as well as family favorites.
References - Many reviews, videos, testimonials, and personal notes from past clients
Preparation Time - Your DJ/Emcee will likely spend 20-30 hours preparing for your wedding. This includes researching and writing your love story, putting together the perfect mix of music for cocktail/dinner, and calling important people close to you as well as contacting other vendors.
Process - Your DJ will have a clear and defined process to be able to deliver on the results promised
While many DJ's offer add-on services such as photo booth, uplighting, drapery, monogram lights, video walls, etc...I've kept the above as simple as possible to reflect the basics of what a true entertainer and Professional Wedding Emcee should be providing in terms of their service at your wedding.
I hope this guide will help you determine what should be expected at each price range. Keep in mind, if you talk to a $1800 DJ that is promising everything listed under what a $3500 DJ is providing, that should wave a red flag! If nothing else, you should now be better prepared to interview potential DJ's. Additionally, I have written a list of 20 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding DJ
A moment is not a lifetime, but some moments can last a lifetime. A trained, and skilled Emcee will provide moments at your wedding that will be cherished for a lifetime. Your experience will far exceed the investment you make by carefully choosing the right DJ.