When we were redesigning our packages and pricing for MyDeejay, we decided to conduct an experiment to get to the bottom of why couples contacting us seemed to have such different ideas about the price of a DJ for a wedding. We pulled price lists and “secret shopped” dozens of DJ companies in several major metropolitan areas, as well as DJ prices in smaller markets and more rural areas. We were interested in finding out exactly what factors went into how much a wedding DJ charges, and how the price of a wedding DJ changes as a result of those factors. Even though our company charges a bit more than most of the wedding DJs in our area, our customers still consistently rate us as being an excellent value – we have a 4.9 out of 5 star rating for “Value” on WeddingWire, based on over 800 reviews. How could we cost more, but still be an excellent value? It appeared that client satisfaction wasn’t based solely on a couple getting the lowest-priced wedding DJ they could possibly find, and that we needed to understand the relationship between value and price before we settled on our own offerings.
So, we embarked on a quest to finally settle the question of wedding DJ cost once and for all – here’s what we found…
Factors Affecting Wedding DJ Cost
The most difficult hurdle anyone faces when comparing the cost of a wedding DJ to other disc jockeys in that area is figuring out if two DJs are even comparable to begin with. In any given area, the price of a wedding DJ ranges from extremely low ($100 or even free in some cases) to quite high (over $4000 for the top DJ in a few major cities). With such a wide range, we needed to figure out the best way to compare prices. Ultimately, we determined that how much a DJ costs in a given area is determined by three main factors – Date/Time/Location (DTL), Equipment, and Client Expectations.
Date / Time / Location (DTL)
Not all dates are created equal. In some areas like Southern California, the weather is nice year-round and couples can get married in February without even considering the weather. For most areas of the country, however, the weather plays an important role (especially due to the threat of snow) which leads to there being a “wedding season” and an “off season” in most locations. Generally speaking, weddings between April and October cost more than weddings occurring November through March. Saturdays are the most popular (and therefore most expensive) day of the week for weddings, because guests don’t need to take off work on a Friday or be back at work on Monday after a Sunday night wedding. Weeknight weddings between Monday and Thursday are, in most cases, significantly less expensive than weddings on the weekends.
The time of day didn’t seem to be much of a factor in determining price, although a few DJs we found did offer lower pricing for daytime weddings on Saturday if it would be done by 4pm and they could book themselves on a “double” – a wedding from 11am-4pm and then another wedding that evening. Most DJs seemed to understand that doing two weddings in a day is both logistically challenging and physically exhausting, and the overwhelming majority of the DJs we found only did one wedding per day. While the time of day was not a large factor in pricing, the number of hours of the wedding is a big factor in determining the cost of a wedding DJ. Some DJs offer an hourly rate with no minimum, others will do an hourly rate with a 4 or 5 hour minimum and then charge per hour (the same, less, or more than their standard rate) for overtime beyond their minimum. We were surprised to find that very few DJs did what we do at MyDeejay and offer a flat-rate, all-inclusive package – although we did find a few.
Location also appeared to be a major factor in determining wedding DJ prices. The distance a DJ needed to travel for a wedding was often mentioned as an additional cost added on to the price of a DJ if it was more than a certain number of miles, and in some areas like New York City there were additional charges for weddings in specific areas like Manhattan where traffic can be difficult and the cost of parking is extremely high. We also found that some DJs would charge extra for specific venues with a difficult load-in, such as a second-floor ballroom with no elevator that forces the DJ to hand-carry all of their equipment up two flights of stairs.
All three of these factors – Date, Time, and Location – seemed to be fairly universal in terms of their effect on how much a DJ charges for a wedding, although the actual amounts charged and the system used to determine the price were all over the spectrum. We decided to combine them into one main factor we dubbed “DTL” for the purposes of our experiment, and began to compile data on the other factors that contribute to wedding DJ pricing.
The largest amount of diversity in how much a DJ charges for a wedding seems to center around how much equipment is included in a DJ’s price quote. Some DJ companies will include one basic sound system and then try to “up-sell” their clients on upgraded gear, additional sound systems for the ceremony or cocktail hour, additional speakers, wireless microphones, and lighting. Surprisingly, we found that very few companies did what we do at MyDeejay and offer unlimited audio equipment as part of a flat-rate, all-inclusive package.
The way that DJs determined the amount and cost of additional equipment also varied quite a bit. Some would base the equipment cost on the square footage of the ballroom, or the total number of guests in attendance. Others would factor in the number of rooms or spaces that needed sound provided in them, or how complicated the setup requirements were at a specific venue. The most common scenario seemed to be that DJs would put their hourly rate (usually low) on their website and then tell couples to contact them to talk about their event before they determined the cost of additional equipment – which then cost hundreds of dollars more than the hourly rate, sometimes doubling the cost of the DJ that they put on their website. So, when shopping for a wedding DJ, it’s very important to understand how much equipment you’re getting, what you aren’t getting, and the price for adding on the equipment you need to make sure your wedding is a success.
The biggest factor in determining wedding DJ prices in our research was “Client Expectations” – how much a couple actually cares about the quality of the DJ at their wedding. This includes things like the DJ’s experience, the company’s reputation, their awards and reviews, and the overall quality of the DJ’s performance and equipment. For couples with extremely low expectations regarding the music at their wedding, they might not even care if the DJ shows up and are perfectly happy hiring a $150 DJ off Craigslist. For other couples, especially those who are paying tens of thousands of dollars for their wedding, the quality of the DJ is extremely important and their expectations are extremely high. For couples with high expectations, there are DJs and DJ companies at the higher end of the pricing spectrum that have high standards and a proven track record of satisfied customers.
Based on our research, cheap wedding DJs in any specific market appeared to attract or cater specifically to couples with low expectations and low budgets – often soliciting couples on sites like Craigslist or Thumbtack. However, those DJs often either had no publicly available reputation in terms of awards and reviews, or had terrible reviews (as you might expect), so it was practically impossible for us to verify whether any of them had been in business longer than perhaps a few months.
Generally, our research revealed that the longer a company had been in business and the more it had a proven track record for high quality in the form of reviews and awards, the more those companies catered to high-expectation couples and the higher their prices tend to be. In major metropolitan areas, there seem to be two main categories of DJs – low-expectation, low-price DJs whose business model is based mainly on volume (performing as many weddings as possible), and high-expectation, higher-priced DJ companies whose business model is based on quality and reputation. There were a handful of high-priced DJs in each market that did not have many (if any) reviews and awards, but they were fairly uncommon. This could be because high-expectation couples generally do more research than low-expectation couples, and would therefore notice whether a company they were considering didn’t have a proven track record, but we did not poll any clients in our research so we can’t say for sure.
Wedding DJ Price Lists
We compared the price of a wedding DJ in several different locations – several major metropolitan markets like Washington DC, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities and a sampling of more rural areas from around the country. While pricing varied wildly depending on the experience of the DJ, some obvious trends began to appear very quickly:
- Wedding DJs Cost More in Wealthy Areas – This is kind of a no-brainer, but the average price of a wedding DJ was higher in wealthy metropolitan areas than in smaller cities and more rural areas. The higher the cost of living, the higher the price of everything in that area – including weddings and (not surprisingly) wedding DJs. The cost of the highest-priced wedding DJ in wealthy cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC was sometimes 3-4 times the cost of the highest-priced DJ in less affluent cities like Milwaukee or Detroit.
- More Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better – This was somewhat counter-intuitive, but we generally found an inverse relationship between the amount of equipment and services a DJ company included in their package and that company’s price and overall reputation. In almost every major metro area we looked at, there were several companies in the middle of the pricing spectrum for that area who offered an almost absurd amount of equipment and services in order to entice couples to book them. This would be things like adding free uplighting or party lights, a free photo booth, even free wedding videography or free wedding coordination. We nicknamed these services the “kitchen sink” companies, whose value proposal seemed much closer to a late-night infomercial (“but wait, there’s more!”) than a reputable DJ company.
- There Is No Magic Formula – As much as we hoped to get a solid, unequivocal answer to our inquiry into the cost of a wedding DJ, there doesn’t seem to be a magic formula that incorporates all of the various factors of why wedding DJs charge what they do. The best answer we could find was that it is a function of the median household income in that area, and a combination of DTL, Equipment, and Client Expectations. There were, of course outliers – DJs with no discernable reputation who charged 2X what the second-most expensive wedding DJ in a market charges, or DJ companies with terrible reviews who still charged more than most of the DJs in that area. However, we found that a combination of those factors and the overall wealth of that area produced a rough outline of what any given DJ would charge for a wedding in that location.
The Average Cost of a Wedding DJ
Based on our research, it was more or less impossible to come to a true average cost for a wedding DJ if we factored in all of the variables. However, there were definitely patterns and trends that can be averaged to come up with some basic pricing averages:
- The Average Cost of a Wedding DJ is $1600-$2200 in a major metropolitan area is for an experienced professional or a large company with a solid reputation. This only covers the DJ and equipment for 4-6 hours of music and does not included lighting or any other services.
- The Average Cost of a DJ for a Wedding is $1400-$2000 in smaller cities for an experienced professional DJ or a large company with a solid reputation. Again, this was only for DJ services and nothing else.
- The Average Price of a Wedding DJ in rural areas or less affluent cities with a low cost of living is $1000-$1600. As above, this was for DJ only and no other services.
- The average cost of a DJ is lower if factoring in the free or nearly free “bottom feeder” DJs on sites like Craigslist or Thumbtack who serve low-expectation clients. We removed them from our data for our research because they aren’t a factor in any market, and there is no way to tell how many of them there are in a given area – presumably because they are constantly going out of business, but we can’t say for sure.
- The cost of a wedding DJ is higher if they include additional services like lighting, photo booths, etc.
Again, these numbers were derived from a wide-ranging survey of DJ prices from across the country. It became very obvious the more we looked that there is such a range of pricing and offerings that it’s more helpful to understand the factors that affect the cost of a wedding DJ rather than trying to force some sort of inaccurate industry-wide average.
We’re of the mindset that DJing weddings isn’t rocket science, and figuring out how much a DJ costs shouldn’t be either. MyDeejay is proud to offer an all-inclusive, flat-rate package that includes 4-6 hours of performance time and all the audio equipment necessary to ensure your wedding sounds great. There are no additional charges, no hidden fees, no upgrades, and no surprises.
The exact price for your wedding depends only on the Date, Time, and Location of the event. Use the button below to check our availability for your date – we will respond with a full price quote in our very first response to you. We look forward to hearing from you!