Wedding DJ Costs. What Are The True Costs For a Quality Wedding DJ/MC?

By: Robert Kermidas (DJ Midas)

Wedding DJ Costs. What's The True Price For Quality?

When you begin your initial search for a Wedding DJ you are almost always going to run into a wide range of prices, qualities, equipment, and add-ons that each company or individual offers. Sometimes you can even find a DJ for as little as $200 for your wedding, or you may consider spending upwards of tens of thousands of dollars on your wedding dj…. So why do wedding DJ prices vary so much and how can you navigate this bumpy landscape to find a suitable, quality entertainer for your big day?

First, I’d like to get an industry secret out of the way, and in the open….. All of these different DJ costs that are all over the place are a combination of many of the same factors and much of the cost discrepancy is self-inflicted. Most of the quality DJs you will find do not price their services according to the actual value they offer. Yes, I know that sounds insane. You are probably saying, well Rob that doesn’t seem like a good way to run a business…….And for the most part, you would be correct. Many professional DJs are afraid of charging too much money for their entertainment and run the fear of pricing themselves out of their perceived market. While in most cases chair covers, flowers, photographers and many other wedding additions will easily exceed the cost of the DJ you are entrusting with engaging the entirety of your guests and operating a smooth flowing and fun event for upwards of 4-6 hours. This is, unfortunately, the current state of the industry despite the fact that interviewed wedding couples overwhelmingly say that the DJ/MC proved to be the most important factor for the quality of their wedding and the fun their guests had.

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Why The Large Price Fluctuations?

You will see estimates from places like Thumbtack, The Knot, Wedding Wire, and other wedding vendor aggregators that market what I can only call a losing proposition for most DJs and Entertainers. Couples should understand that sites like Thumbtack represent almost exclusively the lower-end “cheap DJ” market. They do not account for realistic pricing and the costs that go into a professional DJ/MCs equipment or time for their services rendered. Most quality Wedding DJs will not use Thumbtack specifically, as they say, the service represents a “race to the bottom”. You may also see other national averages published out there on Wedding Wire or The Knot who have recently joined forced to create a wedding vendor conglomerate. But be aware that those service providers also have an influx of “cheap djs” who bring down the cost for entertainers, while simultaneously devaluing the overall art form.

However, there are also some DJs that are honestly and properly priced in that lower tier of the spectrum on those sites. They may be new in the business, they may not have a lot of experience as a wedding DJ, they may have not put adequate investment into their business, or even more likely they are running their operations as a hobby and not a business.

Because of these different marketing tactics and no clear delineation or pool of professional DJs vs Hobby DJs, couples may often see a professional wedding DJ’s true operating cost as a bit of a sticker shock in the beginning. But, make no mistake, when you see higher prices, you likely found a DJ who is offering exceptional service. This is the type of DJ you should be seeking out if they are within your budget, as these are the types of individuals who have dedicated their careers to quality entertainment. These will be the types of DJs who your guests will come up to you during the evening and exclaim that they have never had this much fun. Because true quality DJing and MCing is much more than just picking some good tunes and pressing play. A good DJ is your evening programmer, your master of ceremony, your hype artist, and of course the heartbeat of your overall event. Make sure to put in your due diligence prior to selecting just anybody to set the tone for your evening.

 

 

 

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Searching For “The Best Deal”

As a customer, you want to find the best deal you can. It’s instinct. It’s bred into our DNA to bargain. For instance, if you were shopping around for a house, you would research around for bargains, naturally applying some basic criteria, but in the end trying to find “the best deal.”

A lot of wedding couples can fall into this same cycle when searching for their wedding DJ. Many treat it as simply looking for the best price for the specific vendor they are looking for at that time, sometimes they’ll see an article or two on the amazing bargain someone found at one of the many wedding vendor aggregator websites. But when you peel back the layers and see what the end result is with these choices, they seldom pan out into a quality experience and often took more time to search for and decide on. The bargains they thought they had found translated into a stressful evening, a poorly constructed party, and ultimately worrying about the DJ they picked instead of simply enjoying their very special day, and unique day.

The quality wedding DJ, along with other services, is not a commodity. They put forth years of knowledge and dedication to their craft. Their job is to create an awesome environment of great music and confidence that they can handle any situation that they face.  The most important thing to ask at this moment is “Will this DJ make my night truly a night to remember?”

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The Misconception Of “Hours Worked” And DJ’ing

There is some confusion when it comes to Wedding DJ prices because many couples think about the number of hours the DJ/MC is going to perform and use this as the metric for payment (How many hours you perform multiplied by the generally accepted hourly rate for a DJ). And this is not an uncommon way to think about DJs as service providers. However, the question is a bit misplaced.

Just like a wedding planner who pours incredible amounts of time and resources into planning your day before the celebration, a quality Wedding DJ pours just as many considerable hours into planning your entertainment. So when most couples are thinking about hours for a DJ, those are only the hours of performance they consider. This does not fully encapsulate what a quality Wedding DJ will provide for you. The quality Wedding DJ will consult with you from day one and throughout the time until your special day, sometimes spending 15, 30, 40, or even more hours on just your event alone. I have an excellent and informative breakdown in a recently written article that goes in-depth about, What Does A DJ Actually Do At A Wedding? Rest assured there is more than the 4, 5, 6 or more hours you have booked.

 

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Professional Equipment & Investment

I am going to assume some people will read this section or title, and say “who cares what a DJ spends on their business or their equipment, that’s the cost of doing business” and you would be right… to a point. You typically don’t ask your local subshop or your local grocery store what their overhead costs are with running their business. But given the discrepancies between the “Cheap DJ” and “High-Quality Wedding DJ”, I feel it is our responsibility as DJs to inform the public on some of the basic costs as well as the barrier of entry for a professional DJ. 

When taking into consideration the high costs of purchasing professional DJ equipment, music acquisition, playback, lighting, redundancy, ect; together they can all cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the application and the size of the crowd the PA systems are being utilized for at the venues.

Below is an example of what a typical “Cheap DJs” investment would look like versus what I, as a single-person-operation, personally bring to a standard 150 guest Ceremony & Reception service. This only covers providing an audio setup and does not even include the costs of professional uplighting, or stage lighting that many professional DJ’s now provide as a value added service to brides & groomsThis also does not include your typical yearly recurring costs like music purchases and subscription services, insurance, and other day-to-day operating expenses for any functioning business.

The Cheap DJ’s Setup:

  • Inexpensive Budget Laptop: $250
  • Inexpensive Poor Quality Speakers: $300
  • DJ Controller: $225
  • Wireless Microphone: $100
  • Cables: $50
  • TOTAL INVESTMENT: $925

The Professional Investment:

  • Two Top End Laptops: $6000
  • High Quality Speakers: $7000
  • Turntable, Mixer, & Backups: $6000
  • Wireless Mics and Transmitters: $5000
  • Cases, Cables, Etc. $2000
  • TOTAL INVESTMENT: $26,000

A “Cheap DJ” may not take into account any of these significant discrepancies in the quality of the equipment used during the event and often time over-sell their services to clients with promises of providing a perfect evening of music & dance for the couples. The most pressing issue, is at that very low cost for entry, these “Budget DJs” run into countless issues during long-form performances with poor sound quality, along with potentially pirated music, and potentially no insurance. With just the absolute basics, hobbyists are able to “be a DJ” in a very loosely defined term and are unfortunately watering down the true art form of music blended with entertainment. A professional DJ takes the time and effort to invest in their clients and their business to produce repeatable quality 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. That is my personal investment in just the equipment I bring to a typical event. That does not even include lighting or all the other backup and other equipment left-back at the shop. Others can bring more including expensive uplighting, rigging, monitors, and the like that just ups the ante. It’s not out of the ordinary that a professional DJ can spend 15x, 25x or more than the “Cheap DJ”.

 

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But The Cheap DJs Music Sounds Just As Good

This is something I often hear when validating our prices against “Budget DJs” prices, and is a topic I would like to clear up a bit. Yes, your budget dj could work out for your big day and special celebration. Many have in the past, and its possible that you could also get lucky and your $300 DJ might work out for you as well. But, the chances of these DJs running into large issues and also not being able to address them on the fly is not a chance you should be willing to take on a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Just like with everything else in life, “You get what you pay for”, which is generally why brides invest a lot of due diligence in finding the correct (Photographer, Hair Stylist, Dress, Flowers, ect) for her big day. So why is it that the DJ/MC who will be orchestrating and programming 4-8 hours of entertainment for your guests would not also need to be at that same level of professionalism, and therefore cost. 

Because of these facts, one of the biggest complaints you will hear when spending time researching stories about weddings djs online, when talking to friends about past weddings, are the horror stories about cheap unreliable DJ services and how they ruined the bride and grooms big day. 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, the DJ had a technical problem they could not overcome, the sound quality was just terrible. The Microphones didn’t work of the guests couldn’t hear the newlywed’s vows. These issues can and will legitimately ruin an event and over time these “cheap DJs” can tarnish the industry as a whole as well as bring down the overall price for their industry they serve. A professional wedding 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 if you hire the right DJ.

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The Wedding DJs Price vs. The Wedding DJs Value

This is probably the most important factor you should consider when researching and choosing your Wedding DJ. Their VALUE. This is something Midas Entertainment can not suggest enough when couples begin their fact finding missions on suitable DJs for their big day. If that DJ cannot offer real value for your wedding then you should look elsewhere. Seriously, consider what they are providing. A great wedding DJ goes well beyond just playing music. They are in charge of the ebb and flow of the entire wedding. A quality wedding DJ will know what you want to hear and when you want to hear it, they will take into account they type of guests that are at the event and what their tastes and styles of music are to get people on the dance floor. A quality DJ knows what to say and when to say it to make large impacts on curating your special day and making it a day to remember. 

Quality DJs will always know the names of your most important guests, they will establish relationships with the vendors and venue prior to performance time to learn the area. Someone with experience 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. Overall, its the quality DJs mission to become your confidant, ensuring that we are looking after your very best interests from planning to completion.

This is what sets apart the quality wedding DJ vs the rest of the competition. This is our value proposition… well, at least it’s Midas Entertainments value proposition.

Wedding DJ Prices… The Bottom Line

So lets finish with the true question of what we wanted to answer at the begging of this article, how much should you spend on your Wedding DJ? Well of course only you can set your actual budget and expectations for your big day. But, for instance here in the Knoxville TN, at the time of me writing this publication, wedding DJ prices for a Quality DJ average around $1300 and in general, that is a good starting point to consider quality entertainment in the Tennessee area. When you see someone advertising services well below that number ($250-$500) they may be lacking in one or more areas that could spell trouble for your big celebration. Consider everything the DJ offers, how they click with your personality, and when you find the right one, sign them before somebody else does. Because the other truth about this industry is the good DJ’s get booked out fast. Many DJs like myself tend to book 9-18 months out. and in some cases, two years out, so do not delay in finding your DJ (or other quality vendors for that matter).

Many couples interviewed after a wedding feel that the DJ was the most important element of the entire wedding. The DJ resonates with the entire guest list. The DJ is in control of the tempo of the wedding and manages the evening with the venue and other vendors if a wedding coordinator hasn’t been hired. You can read more about what I typically do as a wedding DJ here to gain even more insight into your special day. But don’t forget, you only get one chance to walk down that aisle, one chance at introductions, and one chance to have a great night of entertainment for your friends and family. Make sure to spend the same diligence on your DJ as you do on the rest of the vendors on your wedding day.

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Rob Kermidas (DJ Midas)

Biography: Robert Kermidas has been DJing since 2008 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres and became a wedding DJ in 2019. Coincidentally, Rob is also a successful 10+ year Digital Marketing Director and professional Event Manager.  Merging quality events with competent technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Rob’s background.