How much should a wedding dj cost?
This is a popular question with brides and grooms in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area in Arizona, and probably the whole country and planet to be honest. I think the reason is that it’s kinda hard for a normal person to tell exactly what all goes into it. Every dj has a different origin story, different style and talent, and a different work ethic that dictate what they charge as a performer. Then equipment and all of the extras that can really make an event special all come into play as well as a myriad of other details. THIS ARTICLE IS NOT GOING TO BE ABOUT HOW MUCH I CHARGE! I’d be happy to send you my pricing brochure if that’s what you’re looking for. This article is more about all of the factors that go into being a great dj and how to gauge value vs. price as you’re considering your wedding dj cost for your budget.
I remember the first time I ever dj’d publicly… I had been practicing and going to the record store for a couple years and my friend invited me to come play at a new venue he was doing a weekly night at. I got a free bar tab and couldn’t have been more excited for my first gig. Nobody is really good the first time playing in front of people, and I was no exception.
Fast forward about 6 years… I had been djing mostly as a hobby and at parties when someone asked me to do their wedding. I had the technical skill at that point, but I only had dance club music on vinyl and was kind of limited. There was a new piece of hardware that had come out and evolved into a pretty stable option that allowed a dj to plug in their laptop. It was around $6-700 and the couple bought it for me because they liked me and wanted me to do their wedding. I had no idea what a wedding dj cost at the time, so we were both getting a great deal. I had a bunch of mp3’s already, but spent a couple hundred dollars on music to make sure I had everything they could think of ahead of time. Was I great? Probably not. Did they have a great time? Definitely. I spent probably 40 hours prepping and making sure I had everything they could want and more lined up, and they already loved my personality, so it was exactly what they hoped for. All the groomsmen actually ended up in the pool in their tuxes, so it was THAT kinda party! That was in 2008-9.
So by the time I did my first wedding, I already had 6-8 years of experience mixing, controlling levels and djing dance music in small social settings. I had probably invested $5,000+ in equipment, and god only knows how much on records to be able to be a dj that could beat match by ear, read a room, and transition effectively.
After the world of digital music opened up to me, I started djing a few nights a week at a local bar and doing weddings by word of mouth as they came across my path. Customers who loved my style at the bar gig would refer their friends and it was just a really organic process. I got some experience from people who weren’t super particular and I charged them more than I would make at the bar, but probably way less than an experienced wedding dj cost. I learned how the timeline and announcements of a wedding went just by trying it out on people who were getting a low wedding dj cost and weren’t too particular. Honestly, a lot of the early weddings were backyard budget weddings where I was learning the ropes.
My hospitality background made it pretty natural for me to act appropriately at a wedding, which is basically a catered event with entertainment. I got great feedback and really enjoyed it to the point that I got a graphic/web designer to make my first website and business card. This was still before the age of Wix and Fiverr, where those things weren’t cheap, and honestly weren’t great by today’s standard. After I had a card and a website, I booked a booth at a bridal show (also not cheap…lol). This was around 2012. My wedding dj cost was still pretty low at $650 for the whole day and I booked 10 weddings which was great and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I really started developing my planning form and getting a routine together at this point. I even started getting referrals from some other vendors who liked me and thought I was better than most of the other people they worked with… even at that point early on. The main things I kept hearing was that it just sounded better when I was there (probably because I knew how to mix and control levels like a boss), and it was refreshing to have someone that wasn’t cheesy and just seemed like a normal person (probably because that’s totally what I was/am…lol).
I took the things that were natural to me after all of that time in hospitality and djing as an artist and really focused on designing my approach to weddings. I wanted to help modern clients, who didn’t want their parents dj, have an amazing wedding party. Since my music tastes have always been pretty wide, it made customizing the experience to each client a really engaging puzzle where I figure out as much as I can and prepare before the event, and then adapt to the guests in real time while working with the model of what the bride and groom had in mind before the event.
These are all things you can’t really put a price on, and you can’t see them on the shelf or an inventory sheet. You can see them in the things my clients have to say about me in reviews they leave, and I send most of my clients to The Knot where I come up as one of the top vendors and win awards.
It’s one thing to have a natural ability for something, but for me that wasn’t enough if I wanted to make a living doing this. I started going to conferences for wedding professionals and mobile djs a few years ago and have really been refining my entire business as I’ve been able to make a full time living primarily focusing on weddings. You can see my attention to detail in a lot of places. My logo and website are probably the first places you would notice. I invested in professional design because I wanted my visual appearance to match my performance talent. As you get into the process a bit further, my online client resource system makes it so that you can receive my pricing brochure, proposal, contract and planning form all in one place. You can even sign the contract digitally and setup an automatic payment if needed. The brochure, contract and planning form are all very carefully thought out to be as effective in translating information as simply as possible. I also have put together a spotify channel with playlists of song ideas for the different moments of a wedding. Even these blog articles I’m writing are a testament to how committed I am to making my clients experience the best it can possibly be.
There are tons of intangibles that you won’t get with any other dj. At least not how I deliver the experience, because I created this all from scratch. I didn’t buy an already functioning company and manage a team of djs, or separate off from a pre-existing company and do things pretty much the same way they’ve always been done… I’m trying to pioneer a new experience where my clients get a relaxed experience that mirrors their personality in energy and music style at each point through the evening.
One way to enhance the experience I’ve been developing is with some forward thinking lighting and ambiance enhancing technologies that not many other djs are using. One example is my new battery powered uplights. They are amazing. Because they are battery powered they can be placed anywhere, even on palm trees or cactuses outdoors. Uplights add texture to a space when the sun goes down, much like curtains add texture to a wall when there is light. These are some of the best on the market also. Nerd Alert: their beam angle is wider so the create more of an impact on the wall and I have high quality gels to create an even color dispersion for complex color mixing. I have a wireless signal transmitted that can match the lights in my custom made dj booth facade and totems. The colors can match your wedding colors and stay one color or slow change during dinner, and activate with the music during the dance party… and MATCH YOUR WEDDING COLORS! Nobody else is doing that… ask around. Almost anyone who has uplights either sets them to one color and they don’t change, or they use an auto program in the lights that matches the sound but doesn’t have any control over color… so you get greens, oranges, and whatever other colors you might not like… lol. My programming system took a lot of time and effort to learn and setup by the way. It also takes time to match your colors at the event. It’s an amazing detail that you would never think of until you see how much nicer it is than the standard programming that comes in the light. I’ve also invested in some nightclub quality moving head lights that work with the same program. They can provide ambient lighting decor on the ceiling or walls during dinner, a spotlight during the first dance, and a fully controllable dance party experience that a lighting technician controls to match the mood of the music. It’s pretty special.
I also have a high quality projector on a professionally designed stand that lifts the projector above everyone’s head and keeps it out of the way against a wall. The projector can be used in a number of ways. It can project a personalized monogram with the couple’s name/initials/date in a stylish design. It’s perfect for a large blank wall or on the dance floor and looks great in pictures. The monogram can actually be designed to be animated as well. Picture how a logo before a movie starts might gradually have elements float into the screen until the full image of the production company is complete… this could be happening on the wall at your wedding with your personalized monogram. It can be set to loop every couple minutes or so also, so it’s not too distracting. It’s a really nice touch. The monogram could also project a design like little floating hearts, or a slideshow, or even a combination of these elements at different points if you wanted. It’s not even that expensive compared to chair covers, flowers, or the hundreds of other decor options you have.
If you are interested in more details about what all is possible, your best bet is to have a conversation with me as what I provide tends to evolve quicker than my website gets updated. I also offer a battery powered setup for ceremonies or cocktail hours that might be difficult to supply power for. I have a selfie station that uses digital props and sends photos, GIF, or boomerang digitally through email or text. I’m working on a video package as well. We can really do something special if you want to take your event from memorable to unforgettable.
As you consider pricing, there are a ton of logistical details that go into a professional dj’s pricing as well. I’m insured, continue to be educated, subscribe to the best music pool and purchase high quality music (cheap djs often pirate music to keep their cost low and sound quality suffers), I have high quality equipment, pay taxes and credit card processing fees, assistants for bigger events, advertising and webpage costs, all of the time and effort that goes into booking, planning, prepping, setting up an event, executing it, and breaking it down, not to mention health insurance, mortgage payments, food, utilities, and a healthy concert addiction in my free time… lol. The list goes on and on… One of the main factors I haven’t mentioned yet is scarcity… I can only do one event a day, and everyone wants their wedding on a Saturday when the weather is nice. If price is your main concern, you get discounts on almost everything by having a non-peak wedding.
Most of what I have gone over in this blog is essentially walking through the long and arduous process of what all went into me being a talented and proficient dj, and ultimately experience maker. Could anybody go purchase the same equipment as me? Of course they could. Would they be able to deliver the same experience that I can? Probably not.
So how much should a wedding dj cost?
If a wedding dj cost a few hundred dollars, you shouldn’t expect much… Ultimately, the talent, personality, and work ethic of everyone is different. A dj is going to charge what they think they are worth and as long as they are providing value and are able to make a living doing it, that is how much they are worth. You are investing in a gorgeous venue, dress, flowers, cake, photos, etc. because you want everything to be perfect… why would you want to trust someone who doesn’t feel they are worth much to lead your guests through the most important day of your life? You’re going to remember this for the rest of your life… Our prices range quite a bit depending on the options we decide on. Let us help you make sure that the feelings of joy and excitement you experience are on a par with how beautiful everything else at your wedding is!
For our current pricing, go to our contact page or just fill out our contact form and let us know you want to check out the brochure. Our pricing is definitely a good value for the experience we’re going to deliver. Let us help you have the party of your dreams!