How much a DJ costs is a popular question and depends a lot on how long the DJ you want to hire will be at your event. This price can go up or down depending on the size and length of your party, as well as what services you are looking for them to provide. Because this can change from event to event, and from one person to the next, there is no hard number. However, that is also the reason we are writing this article; so you can get a better idea of what to expect when you are looking to hire a DJ for your next wedding, birthday party, or corporate event.
How Much Does a DJ Cost for a Wedding?
According to some guides, the national average cost of a DJ is between $700-$1200. Others state the national average cost of a wedding DJ is about $1,000 for 2019. But in order to really narrow down what it will cost for your wedding, you need to know that DJs’ costs can vary based on their experience, their popularity, what equipment they will bring, what duties they will be performing, as well as how long they will be needed. And while the following advice is specifically aimed at weddings, it can also be applied to any other kind of event, as well.
DJ’s experience has a lot to do with what they charge, and that makes sense because the more experienced a DJ is, the better they will be at their job. They will naturally be able to handle unexpected situations and surprises because they are a veteran in the industry. According to HireRush, DJs with no license or real training and who are really just beginning will charge somewhere around $250-$350. These DJs might be good for a tighter budget, but you’ll need to keep in mind that you will probably get what you pay for, as the old adage goes.
For DJs that have had some more experience and have been hired a few times, but still haven’t learned everything there is to learn, you can expect prices around $450-$750. In this range, you can expect better service, because these DJs have done work with a few events and have probably learned some good tips and tricks of the trade. That said, they still have more to learn and you may still run into a problem or misunderstanding down the road. Or not. Some DJs are only one person rather than a company, so if he/she has an emergency of their own, they may not have a good backup plan, or worse, you may lose your DJ altogether!
Lastly, the DJs at the top of the range will have had the most experience or are by far, the most popular. You can expect these DJs to know the ins and outs of the industry and command a room with finesse. These DJs are the best of the best and you can expect to pay a pretty penny because of their knowledge. These professionals can spend 20+ hours a week making sure that your 5-hour wedding reception is perfect on your big day. They are well trained and very experienced. These DJs will cost anywhere from $800-$2000 or maybe even more. And we wanted to mention that some DJs may be more knowledgeable in one niche over another, such as a wedding DJ versus a corporate DJ versus a kids’ birthday DJ (yes, they really have those).
What will your DJ be doing? Some brides know exactly what their DJ should be doing and at what time, and that kind of information is helpful to a professional DJ. It helps them determine when to play certain songs or at what time they need to be available for emcee duties or when they need to cut off the music so you can take over the mic. However, some brides have no idea what a DJ is really supposed to do at their wedding, so they don’t know what to expect.
Typically, a trained DJ will know how to emcee, which means that they will talk to your guests and help the crowd transition from one part of your wedding to another. Part of their job is to make sure your guests are having a great time, either by getting them to dance, or helping you get them into the right places at the right times. (And because of the variety of DJs, there are a variety of personalities, and this is going to be important to you when you hire your wedding DJ.) However, there are DJs out there that will still not be comfortable in their role and may not know how to take on these kinds of duties with the flair you may wish for, or in some cases, they may not offer them at all.
So when you are talking to a DJ that you are thinking about hiring, be sure to talk to them about the duties they are comfortable performing and what services they may not offer. Does your prospective DJ do dance battles or have a certain way they take song requests? Do they want to be involved, at all, in the scheduling process, to help you find good places to transition from one part of the evening/day to the next? Getting this kind of information ahead of time will help go a long way in selecting the right DJ for your wedding and give you a good feel for his or her experience.
Length of Time
Another one of the biggest considerations when trying to calculate how much a DJ cost is going to be the amount of time you need them at your wedding or another event. A typical length of time that a DJ expects is anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, especially for a wedding. However, these hours, called sets, may need to be expanded when you get your estimates if you will need to break between times the DJ is playing music or making transitions. For instance, if you know you’ll be having speeches in the middle of the set, and you allocate 1 hour for your loved ones to share their stories, be sure to let your DJ know that you have that set up during their set, before the big day. This allows them to work out a plan with you about what is going on and when, as well as give you a proper quote for their time so there are no surprises when you get the final invoice.
What Else Can Affect the Price of a DJ?
There are a few more items that can affect how much a DJ costs, such as equipment, special requests, run over time, and your wedding date. These items aren’t always on your radar, with all of the other planning you have going on (have you booked that caterer yet?), so we wanted to be sure to go over them in this article.
Equipment: While some DJs own and can bring their own equipment, sometimes the venue will require that you use their equipment or the DJ may not have everything he or she needs to offer you all of the services you would like such as a fog machine or perhaps a lapel microphone instead of a handheld. Perhaps you would like extra speakers for those guests that are in the back of the room. All of these items can cost a little more, especially if your DJ doesn’t already own them.
Special Requests: Do you need a bilingual DJ? Or maybe you’d like him or her to coordinate with your Master of Ceremonies instead of doing those jobs themselves. What about the songs you want to play during your event? Does the DJ own those songs? While DJs have a wide library of popular songs and can coordinate easily with you on various things, sometimes they have a set of skills that may be difficult to find in certain locations, making them more popular or pricier or they may not have every song on your list and will have to buy that music in order to use it. Things like this are not always expected and can also change the cost of using a DJ.
Run Over Time: Did you know about runover? Most DJs charge by the hour or X amount for certain time frames, such as 4 hours, and then charge more for every hour after that time. This can most definitely cause prices to change and while it might not seem like it now, with a perfectly aligned schedule for the event, you never know what will happen on your big day. What if your cute nephew Nick wants to sing a special song that no one expected to hear and follow it up with special tap dance for you and your new life partner or the birthday girl/boy? While things like this are certainly cute and memorable and no one would ever want to move him off center stage, it takes away time from other things on the schedule, which can add up quickly. Luckily, we are unlimited-time DJs which means we keep the party going as long as your guests are on the dance floor.
Wedding Date: You may not have thought about it, but your wedding date can affect the price and cost of a DJ. Want to get married on 2/2/22? What about July 4th? Thinking of having a beautiful fall event? Popular dates, or affinity dates, are going to cause the price to go up because DJs will be more in demand on those dates, and in some cases, the price can (and almost certainly will) change if you don’t book the date out far enough in advance. So if you’re eyeing one of those “special” dates, be sure to go ahead and book someone now, so you don’t lose out!
Pro Tip: January, March, April, and November are considered “off-season” for weddings.
So as you can see there is a list of things that you need to think about and collaborate with your DJ about. If you’re still looking for a DJ, be sure to ask about the items we mentioned so that you won’t get stuck holding a bill you weren’t expecting. It may seem like a lot with all of the rest of your planning, but in the end, it will be worth asking all of the questions to be sure you have a wonderful and fun day, no matter what kind of event you are putting on!
We hope this has helped you avoid using your friend’s brother’s college roommate who has an awesome boombox for your big day. Find an experienced, well-trained DJ who doubles as the host of your event and can be trusted to make your most important announcements, like the cake cutting and first dance.