How Much Should I Pay My Wedding DJ?

One of the first things newly engaged couples consider is how to allocate their wedding budget. We can’t tell you what your budget is but we can help clear the air about what your wedding “DJ” could and should be doing for you. Once you decide what you want out of the DJ, you’ll have an idea as to what a fair rate is.

Your DJ will probably wear many hats, and the one that impacts your wedding day experience more than any other is that of the Master of Ceremonies, or MC (if your DJ claims to be an “emcee”, run). Your Master of Ceremonies is responsible for planning and executing each transition from one part of your reception to the next. If you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. It isn’t just making announcements that is so important. Timing, inflection, cadence, staging, all play a role in the outcome of each structured part of the day and these transitions should be thought out with a clear goal in mind. This sort of planning takes time. In fact, did you know that we spend an average of 50 – 80 hours planning each of our events?

So here is the breakdown; although there are many different styles of DJ out there, for a Wedding (or Mitzvah, Sweet 16 etc.) you can break it up into 2 categories:

The first is just the music guy. and is most likely a hobbiest, or someone that has another source of income as their main source You expect him to show upon time, be set up and ready to go no later than the event start time, play the songs you requested, and don’t mess it up. This DJ has a bit of behind the scenes work to do like loading up their gear according to what you have hired them to bring, travel etc. but for the most part, aside from a few messages back and forth about the music, the work they do for you is all done on the day of and mostly revolves around playing music with an occasional announcement here or there. He or she will also probably be bringing several thousands of dollars worth of equipment with them and is most likely the first person to show up at the venue and the last to leave. If looking to hire this sort of DJ, the ever popular “what do you charge per hour” question is close to fair, as long as you keep in mind that they have at least a few hours of work to do before and after your event. This fee should account for the skilled service they provide and wear and tear on their vehicle and gear. $500 – $800 is usually a fair middle ground for this sort of DJ as long as they are professional and punctual. It is honestly hard to find equipment rentals for much less than that.

The second type is the one who will function as a true Master of Ceremonies. This is the guy that asks you for tons of information so they can craft your celebration around you. They spend time exchanging ideas with you, learning your preferences and priorities and helping you with the things you didn’t even think of because it isn’t your job to know what you don’t know. This is probably their only, or main source of income and it will show in how responsive and knowledgeable they are. They also have most likely attended training specific to the various hats they will wear for you that include structuring your event, lighting design, public speaking, and many others. They have tens and thousands of dollars invested in equipment, backup equipment, and knowledge. This person will invest a ton of time and energy both physically and mentally into the success of your event. This persons fee should be in the neighborhood of a week or two’s pay at a fair rate for a professionally trained and skilled position, a fair rate for the full day they are devoting to your event, plus wear and tear on the tens of thousands of dollars in gear they bring along equal to roughly 5% – 10% of the value of their equipment. This adds up fast but can be a very rewarding investment for the client. Expect to see a starting fee in the neighborhood of $1,500 – $2,000 for this scope of services,

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