• Ajay Manaktala

Indian Wedding DJ Cost in USD (2020)

Updated: Feb 10

Ajay Manaktala is an Indian Wedding and Bollywood DJ with over 20 years of experience producing, DJ'ing, planning and marketing Big Fat Indian weddings all over the world.

He is also a most viewed writer on Quora under Indian, Gujarati and Punjabi weddings and founder of Special Occasions DJ & Lighting Los Angeles.


In this post he'll explain how much Indian DJs cost in America as well as tips to save on things you don't need.


Here is DJ Ajay on NBC's The Office



NOW LETS GO GET YOU SOME PRICING!


Congratulations on your big day!


Indian weddings are an exciting time, and I've been there with new bride and grooms 100s of times. And since they constantly ask about costs before even telling us the requirements of their event, I thought I'd do my best to lay out pricing for shaadi DJ and Lighting so you know what to expect.


In this post my goal is to explain how much DJ's in the Bollywood/Indian/South Asian space charge so you have some ballpark estimates as you reach out to DJs in your city. The costs should similar for places like:


  • Los Angeles

  • San Francisco

  • San Diego

  • Orange County

  • Seattle

  • Las Vegas

  • Houston

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • Chicago


The average costs for Indian wedding DJs are below which include a detailed sound and lighting specification that is most commonly required at any large south Asian wedding of over 100 people.


Hint: That's pretty much all of them.


I'm so glad we researched DJ prices so we knew where to spend! Balle Balle!

Factors that affect Price of a Indian DJ in America


  • 95% of Big Fat Indian weddings in the USA will require lighting, which is factored into the pricing you see.

  • These are multiple day events, that often require another full day for setup and another full teardown.

  • You will usually save on your DJ vendor if you include dance floor rentals, LED walls, etc..

  • Some DJ's may be more expensive than this range because they are heavily sought after and booked years ahead of time.

  • Wedding Size: A 400 person event may not be exactly double the cost of a 200 person event, but larger weddings will cost more due to extra speakers, power requirements, cabling, decoration (lighting and decor go hand in hand), etc..



Quick disclaimer. Every wedding is different and quotes can vary, and it's hard to trust anybody in the process. As with anything your experience may vary, but this is just to give you a ballpark estimate so you get a sense that you're getting a fair price.


Yes you will find Ramesh Uncle's son now DJs and is offering to do it for $500. If that works for you, by all means go for it. But if he shows up with two speakers and is only playing Honey Singh, well...all I'll say is make sure you watch your DJ or talk to references before hiring.



HOW MUCH DOES AN INDIAN WEDDING DJ COST?


As of 2020, the average TOTAL cost of an Indian DJ for weddings between 300 and 400 guests, in the USA, is around $23,000 to $28,000 over the 2-3 days of Mehendi, Sangeet, Wedding Ceremony and Reception.

ASSUMPTIONS on COST BREAKDOWNs:


  • Most Indian weddings are over 200 people, with the average in California we do to be around 300-500+

  • Total prices above are for multiple days, multiple events, and plus or minus 1 day each for setup and tear down.

  • Wedding Lighting packages are included but go up or down based on requirements. A 500 person wedding will likely have 1.5X the lighting charges of a 250 person wedding. Lights include centerpiece pinspots, uplighting, wash lighting and intelligent dance floor lighting. We have a full wedding lighting guide for dummies here.

  • Prices assume fee for the professional DJ services, vendor insurance for hotel on day of event, licensed employees, transportation, venue analysis, etc..

  • LED walls, stage decoration, are all additional items etc.. but most DJ's now offer those and you will see those also offered by many wedding DJ providers.



INDIAN WEDDING DJ COST BREAKDOWN


As harsh as it sounds, not all weddings are created equal.


I've seen extremely fancy 100 person weddings that cost a million dollars (!!) and also 500 person weddings that were extreme value that just killed it with fun.


However, for your shaadi DJ and Lighting purposes, whether you're a new couple with limited budget or seasoned career professionals looking to make a big splash, or somewhere in between (most of us), these are examples and tiers of different wedding DJ types.


If you have questions pop the in the comments! We maintain this blog very actively!



1. SMALL INTIMATE WEDDING: DJ Cost (Just the DJ and his/her music or limited equipment)


If you're having a small wedding (by Desi standard) of less than 100 people, you don't need to go over the top and this would be a safe and more than adequate bet.


A basic DJ and lighting setup for 50-150 person event. Dance floor extra, although wouldn't be required in this specific venue.

Requirement:


  • 50 to 150 person wedding. Maybe 200 if not much crazy dancing expected.

  • Many smaller South Indian weddings fall into this category.

  • Limited Lighting


Includes: In the USA it's normal for a Bollywood DJ to bring his equipment in his costings. In India usually big fat Indian weddings have an event partner that does all the setups, and the DJ just shows up with their software and music and performs.



The setup above is not a Big Fat wedding but a smaller intimate function.


USA Price Range: $2000 (single event) to $5,000 (multiple events over few days)

India DJ Cost: 70% of above costs assuming DJ is local to India but good enough that he/she also does big weddings in Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc..


Thailand Indian DJ Cost: 80% of above costs assuming DJ is local to Thailand or From India.


IMPORTANT: Please make sure you clarify with your DJ that they don't need anything else from anyone! (e.g. sometimes a venue like a cruise ship would have their own in-house equipment already installed, in which case your DJ might assume the fee is just him showing up and playing from his laptop and you have no speakers to play it).





2. MEDIUM: DJ Cost & Professional Sound Equipment,


If you're having a wedding in California or Texas at a major hotel chain (like a Marriott or Hilton) ballroom and have a guest list of about 200 to 300 people, this is the package for you.



  • 150 to 250 person wedding. Maybe 300 if ballroom has good acoustics (many DJs will do a site visit if first time there).

  • Standard Lighting package (dance floor and ballroom lighting)

  • Entry Level Big Fat Wedding Tier


Includes: DJ Services, Lighting, Speakers & Equipment. Dance Floors & Led Walls will be itemized if needed as extra.


The setup above is the normal range for middle-class big fat Indian wedding.


USA Price Range: $4000 to $15000. (higher end includes Dancefloor, broader lighting, etc..) per day.

Includes: Same as point one above, plus staff to setup equipment and gear/setup rentals plus technician, insurance with hotel, etc...


TIP TO REDUCE COST: If you have 400 guests and need sound in the foyer, the outside bar area, a different sound system for your baraat (or groom entrance), all those things will be itemized. Often times however you may not need sound in the lobby as guests will be resting in their rooms, as is the case with destination weddings. So look for gaps where you may not need music!


TIP TO ASK DJ ABOUT: Dhol Player? Based on availability, yes, you will need one. As of 2020, Dhol Players are highlights at Indian weddings in America and make people go nuts!


3. LARGE: Luxury Big Fat Indian Wedding DJ


If you're having a big luxury wedding at place like Pelican Hill in Newport Beach or the Ritz Carlton Halfmoon Bay, and expect more than 300 people, well, you're going to end up needing a lot of this stuff. There is no point spending $80,000 on a hotel ballroom only to then have it not look beautiful and also feel "thin" or empty. So please remember, everything you see here has a purpose.


Requirement:


  • DJ Fee

  • MC Cost,

  • Sound Equipment,

  • Band Support for Live Performance,

  • 2 Dhol Players

  • Possible Sitar or Saxophone Player

  • 400+ person lighting setup for Sangeet, Wedding and Reception

  • Mobile Baraat System

  • Dance Floors

  • Stage Design

  • LED Walls and TV Screens

  • Your Name Lit on the Dance Floor (Gobos)

  • Room Lighting,

  • Decorator coordination (when you need your lighting team to work with floral team)


Sangeet band, DJ to follow. Audio equipment provided but band provides tech rider and their personal instruments.

Dance floor (white), about 25 uplights (wall), stencil lighting (walls), Pinspots to light up the table center pieces, and 8 speaker setup.

300 person setup with wireless lavalier mics for priest, cameramen and screens for proejctors, uplights and backdrops.

Ballroom included projector here (so you can save), but dance floor, stage design for backdrop and DJ booth all itemized.
Projector, Truss and runway setup, often for Sangeets or Receptions.

Range: $15,000 - $50,000+ (We've done weddings well above $100K contracts over 2-3 day setups) per day.


Includes: Same as two points above, plus:


  • truss (those concert bars you see above stages),

  • intelligent lighting across multiple spaces,

  • extensive ballroom and centerpiece lighting,

  • draping,

  • LED WALLS OR SCREENS with live camera feeds,

  • 2-3 Day setup charges

  • extar wireless mics,

  • freight loading insurance at hotel

  • lapel mics if needed for priest,

  • instruments for the band

  • seamless white dance floor etc...


How to Reduce my Wedding DJ Expense?


  • Skip the band. Bands are amazing and my brother had one at his and it was awesome. But they only played for two hours, took a break, and we had to fly in 10 people, pay for their rooms, meals, etc.. But if you can afford it, do it! Usually if a band has a $10,000 fee you'll likely spend double when you factor their expenses.


  • Find a venue with built in lighting or projectors! That way your DJ can leverage the built in system which will be included in your ballroom rental or venue cost. But make sure they let you use it!


  • Ask a lesser known DJ if you can check out their other events. If you found a too-good-to-be true DJ, maybe you're on the fence, but if they're great and you saw their work, then go for it! That's how we all started after all!


  • Take Sound out of the Foyer. If you don't think people need music outside in terrace or lobby area, or will be in their rooms, etc.. cancel out the 4 speakers there and save a thousand bucks.


  • Media Relationships? If you can get your DJ exposure in major publications OR help them with other services, maybe they can reduce their cost? (e.g. A friend had one lawyer groom help their decor business with some taxes, another got them a feature in GQ Magazine, etc..) DJ's don't pay their rent with exposure but they may negotiate down 5 to 10% if the opportunity is interesting for them!




CONCLUSION


Do you still have questions, or is the above fairly clear? I hope it is, and I welcome you to get quotes and let me know if were too far off.


But yes, as with anything else in this business, it depends. Some florists come for $500, others might charge you $40,000. I've seen it all at Indian weddings.



But if you're having the big fat hotel wedding, at a major 4.5 to 5 star hotel in America, expect to pay around $23,000 to $35,000 for your DJ and Sound/Lighting services over 2-3 days for your special occasion, in TOTAL. Remember, your tax bill itself on a $22,000 contract would be over $1,500.


While we can't guarantee you will find a DJ in or outside these changes, we do highly recommend your DJ and sound company gives you an itemized breakdown of the services they will provide.



For example, if you see a charge for two speakers outside in the patio but don't expect many guests to be caring for music out there, you can remove that and save a few hundred bucks.


But if you see a charge for 3 employees the day before the wedding, and lunches for the team...well, yeah, they will be there for 16 hours setting up.



Where you should never skip however is on wireless mics, ballroom lighting and screens (LEDS are fast becoming the norm and are actually cheaper).


Questions or Comments? Do let us know below! Even if you don't need our services we love answering wedding questions and DJ questions from all over the world so ask away!


ALSO SEE:


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