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  • DJ Ben Boylan

How Much Does a Wedding DJ Cost? And other Wedding DJ FAQs

All your questions about wedding DJs answered

By DJ Ben Boylan


Megan & Kenneth Photography

Are you looking for a DJ for your wedding? Do you have questions about the music or entertainment at your wedding? Maybe you're about to meet with a wedding DJ and you don't know what to ask? If that sounds like you, you've come to the right place.


You will find the most common questions here - including wedding DJ cost. So read on to learn more about the entertainment at your wedding. We'll start with the most frequently asked question...


How much does a wedding DJ cost?


The price of a wedding DJ varies depending on where you live. For the most part, prices match cost of living. NYC, the Bay Area and LA are the most expensive.


New York City average cost of a wedding DJ: $1,650

Los Angeles average cost of a wedding DJ: $1485

Chicago average cost of a wedding DJ: $1,400

Houston average cost of a wedding DJ: $1,200

Phoenix average cost of a wedding DJ: $1,200

Philadelphia average cost of a wedding DJ: $1,420

San Diego average cost of a wedding DJ $1.275

San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland average cost of a wedding DJ $1,630

Austin average cost of a wedding DJ $1,275

Atlanta average cost of a wedding DJ $1,350


These are average prices. You will be able to find someone cheaper. Also, many websites differentiated between "professional DJs" or "DJ companies" and hobbyists or "single operators." These are prices for the pros.



When to hire or book a wedding DJ?


You should book your wedding DJ 6 to 9 months in advance.


That's the short answer. The long answer is, it depends. If music and dancing are very important to you then you should lock down a DJ as soon as can. The best wedding professionals get booked first. They can only do one wedding per day.


So, if a great DJ is a priority to you, hire one as soon as you can. But if music and dancing aren't that big of a deal for you then feel free to wait until 6 months or so before your wedding. Read more about when to book your wedding DJ.



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Who pays for the wedding DJ?


Traditionally, the DJ was paid for by the groom's family.


These days it is different. Who pays for the wedding often depends on the total cost and the financial situation of those involved. At many weddings the families split the costs. And now since couples are getting married older, many pay for their wedding themselves.



What makes a good wedding DJ?


A good wedding DJ is one who matches your style and has a lot of experience


Matches your style


It's important that the style of your wedding DJ matches yours. Here are some different wedding DJ styles:

  • More of a DJ who plays music

  • More of an MC

  • Talks on the mic a lot, including during dancing

  • Doesn't talk a lot on the mic. Only makes necessary announcements

  • Specializes in playing wedding classics

  • Plays mostly club music

  • Plays a wide variety of music

  • Only lets you choose a certain amount of songs played

  • Lets you choose all the songs you want

  • Does line dances with your guests

  • Mostly stays behind their DJ table

Envision what kind of DJ would be a good match for you. When you have your initial meeting with them, ask a lot of questions.


Experience


It's also important that your DJ has experience. Here are the most important things you don't want your DJ to screw up:

  1. Clear sounding microphones at your wedding ceremony without drop-outs or interference

  2. Clear sounding microphones for your guests' speeches without drop-outs or interference

  3. To do your introduction without making major mistakes

  4. To play the music correctly during your first dance and parent dances

Everyone always focuses on what music DJs will or won't play during their dance set. That's fine, But if your DJ screws up one or more of these things at your wedding you are going to be really upset.


To find out if your DJ is experienced, check for a lot of online reviews. You can also ask your wedding vendors if they've heard of them.



What questions to ask a wedding DJ?


There are a lot of articles online which give you questions to ask a wedding DJ. They are the wrong questions! Here are better questions to ask a wedding DJ:

  1. How many weddings did you DJ last year?

  2. At how many of them did you provide sound at the ceremony?

  3. What songs would you play from our favorite genres to get our guests to dance?

  4. Can we choose as many of the songs as we want?

  5. What is your announcing style? Could you do a sample announcement for us now?

  6. Do you "hype up the crowd" on the mic during dancing?

  7. Are the ceremony and cocktail hour included in your price?

  8. Do you advertise your prices on your website?

  9. If you cancel, can we have our deposit back?

  10. What about your job are you passionate about?

Read a whole article about Better Questions to Ask Your Wedding DJ



How much to tip a wedding DJ?


10 to 15 percent of the total bill or $50 - $150


Tipping is optional, but wedding DJs usually receive a tip. Some websites suggested a percentage (10% to 15%) of the DJ's payment, others suggested $50 to $150.



What does a wedding DJ do?


Here are the main things a wedding DJ does at your event:

  • Chooses music to play

  • Makes announcements (MC's) and does introductions

  • Brings a sound system with microphones

  • Helps you stick to your timeline

  • Liability insurance

Here are additional services many wedding DJs offer at an extra cost:

  • Lighting (decorative and party lights)

  • Photo booth

  • Smoke machines or "Dancing on the Clouds"

  • Monogram shone on wall

  • Musicians or singers

  • Bilingual MCs

  • Audio recording of the event

Here are things wedding DJs do before the event:

  • Have two meetings/calls with you

  • Provide a contract for you to sign

  • Provide a music questionnaire for you to fill out

  • Check in with your event planner and venue


Can a wedding DJ play any song?


Wedding DJs can play almost any song. If the song is very rare, or only on YouTube, you may be asked to provide it.


Watch a video on this topic.



Andrea Arostegui Photography

What's the best way to find a wedding DJ?


Here is the best way to find a wedding DJ:

  1. Ask your friends, family and wedding vendors to recommend someone

  2. Get a list of three DJs you want to meet with

  3. Meet with each one and ask them the questions I listed above and make your choice

  4. Make sure they match your style and have a lot of experience

If asking for recommendations doesn't work for you, then I would suggest looking on WeddingWire and The Knot. Important tips for searching on WeddingWire and The Knot:

  • These websites make it very easy to contact fifteen DJs in two minutes. Don't do that! You will wake up the next morning to twenty emails. Many of them will keep emailing you for weeks. Try to just contact three DJs at a time.

  • These websites are paid advertisements. The DJs who pay the most will be first. This means the DJs who are first aren't necessarily the best.


What is the difference between a wedding DJ and an MC?


A DJ is the person who plays music. The MC is the person who talks on the microphone. At weddings this can often be the same person.


Many DJ companies send pairs to work weddings. The DJ will play the music, and the MC will do the talking and announcements. Often, the MC is also a DJ and he or she will DJ the main dance set. The other person acts as their assistant.


But weddings are trending away from having MCs. The tradition of a DJ doing a long theatrical introduction and cracking jokes on the microphone seems outdated to many modern couples. Most couples just want a great party. Less and less couples are asking for an MC.



Wedding DJ vs. band


Bands are better for couples who love live music and can afford the higher cost. DJs are more affordable and offer many services bands don't.


Here are some things DJs offer that bands don't:

  • Lower cost Bands are at least twice as expensive as a DJ

  • Ceremony sound DJs provide a microphone at your ceremony for your officiant

  • Hear the exact song Your guests are more likely to recognize songs and dance to them

  • Unlimited genres Most bands have a style. They say they are versatile, but usually they aren't. DJs can play any type of music

  • No breaks The music can keep playing if the DJ runs to the bathroom or eats something.

  • Small footprint DJs take up much less space than bands.



Wedding DJ vs. Spotify playlist


A Spotify playlist is ok for your wedding if that's all you can afford. But a DJ offers many other services.


Here are the main services you will get from a DJ, but not from playing your own playlist

  • Audio equipment. Your DJ will bring loud speakers and working microphones

  • Your DJ will operate and troubleshoot all the audio equipment so you don't have to

  • They will transition between songs so the music doesn't stop

  • Also shorten songs that are too long

  • And your DJ is an expert at choosing songs that will make your guests dance and have a good time


Do wedding DJs work with sax players or other live musicians?


Yes, many wedding DJs work with musicians who play live instruments during the dance set.


It's really fun actually. Your DJ plays songs and a sax player or drummer plays along. They can stand on the edge of the dance floor, or walk through the crowd. Guests love it and it adds energy.


You can ask your DJ if they provide this service, or if they can recommend some musicians. There will be an extra cost.





Get my free PDF: Wedding DJ vs. Band

Why a DJ is better

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