Wedding DJ Cost USA | 2020
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Every day people across America and Canada get engaged, and a few months after that they start to think about their wedding DJ as part of the planning process. So I decided to breakdown the costs and prices for a professional wedding DJ in North America.
How much does a wedding DJ cost in America? The average cost for a licensed, professionally experienced wedding DJ is between $2500 and $4000 per reception. Larger luxury weddings can go up to $15,000 with sound and lighting.
Many DJ's will say they can do your wedding for $500, and I personally have been there myself when starting out. There is a lot to think about when choosing a DJ and sound/lighting professional for your nuptials, and I'll explain what you get in each price bracket so you can decide what works for you.
Keep in mind most DJs have different rates for weddings compared to a nightclub or corporate events, so plan accordingly.
Wedding DJ Price Brackets
Beginner DJ:$500 - $1,000
Usually between the ages of 18 and 25. Starting out in DJ'ing and looking for clients. Likely younger than the couple which means music tastes will be younger than the crowd. May not have the highest end gear but could be very talented.
Good for small college-sweetheart weddings of less than 50 people.
Bad for high end receptions or above 30+ age group weddings.
Usually between 22 and 35 years old. DJ'd enough weddings, high school functions and corporate events to be doing this full time. Might not have an office but a knows how to read the crowd.
Good for couples between to 25 and 35 when the wedding is between 60 and 140 people.
Bad for high end weddings (Pelican Hill, Ritz Carlton) or larger events which require a big video/lighting/sound package.
Usually runs a full service sound and lighting company that does weddings, small concerts, corporate events and professional launches. Done over 100 weddings and knows how to make everyone happy, from Frank Sinatra for the baby boomers to Drake for the teens. Expert at reading the crowd.
Good for large scale events over 200 people, audio/visual requirements, diverse crowds across age groups and ethnicities.
Bad for small weddings.
Side Note On Cheaper DJs | Pros and Cons
Can you find people cheaper and also more expensive DJs?
Of course. In fact if you don't have more than 100 people at your wedding, you shouldn't be spending more than $5,000 tops on your sound/lighting requirement, unless you have a live band. That can go up to $10,000 for wireless mics, monitors, ear pieces, instrument rental etc..
You can find hobbyists and teenagers who are just getting started. If you have seen their work and believe it's a good fit for your event or budget, by all means go ahead. If it's a small wedding of just 20-50 people, go for it!
In fact, if you're stressed about your budget yes please do shop around or worst case have a family friend handle the music with an aux cable. Also, plenty of new DJ's are great and trying to build their resume. So you might luck out. We've all been there including myself, so get them while they're cheap.
But also, if you're looking at someone much younger than you, do you want a high school/college kid playing Drake and Bieber and Ariane for your 30+ crowd or do you want:
someone who knows what's retro for you,
why NSYNC/Backstreet boys would be part fun and part-funny,
when Frank Sinatra or Etta James is a good choice?
when to slow it down for dinner and when to speed it up as the alcohol is flowing
how to emcee and hype the energy (most young ones are shy)
and also how to make your parents and grandparents bust a move?
Or maybe you want all of the above, plus someone who will MC for your event?
I'll also be honest, when I was 17 doing weddings...I look back and realize I could have done a lot better. But all that comes with time. So see what works in your budget! But if you can afford $1000 to $10,000 for a DJ, remember...all your effort and planning ultimately culminates on the dance floor!
Assumptions and Explanations on DJ pricing:
These are prices in Los Angeles and Orange County as of 2019. Should be similar for the bay area and Chicago and New Jersey/New York.
I assume in places like Wichita or elsewhere it's 20% less.
They're costs for a single 6-8 hour block of time, like a wedding reception and/or a ceremony with a reception right after it.
Assumption is an American or western style traditional wedding.
For our Indian wedding clients, we have a whole breakdown here as those are equivalent to three American wedding receptions.
Factors that Determine Your Wedding DJ's Cost
Number of Guests (A 200 person wedding will likely cost 1.5 times the cost of a 100 person wedding)
Lighting Requirements (pintspots, uplights, decorations)
How popular and in demand is your DJ? Are they famous outside of events?
Is there a live band, or someone singing?
Location (e.g. cruiseship or private boat may require special power considerations).
Number of Events you need him/her for (reception or ceremony as well)
Is your DJ insured? What if he/she blows the power at your hotel? Or scratches the ballroom marble while carrying a speaker stand?
How do You Quickly Get quotes and Negotiate A DJ?
Fill out any DJ's contact form or Yelp or email them, and simply tell them you need a quote and your details so they can price it accordingly. DJs get these alerts straight to their phone and are generally very responsive to leads as most rely on weddings and list their info sites like Wedding Wire.
Your DJ can give you a ballpark figure to start over email ONLY IF you share:
Number of Guests
Where your wedding is (hotel or venue)
How many events you're having or what you'll need DJ services for
How long do you expect to dance
If you'll need any lighting or decoration
If you'll need someone to be a master of ceremonies (MC)
PRO TIP: Most DJs for weddings rely on word of mouth and referrals so if your DJ is a professional with years under his/her belt, I'm sure the pricing will be transparent and they will likely give you client referrals you can check with!
HOW CAN YOU SAVE MONEY WITH YOUR DJ?
Some tips to reduce your DJ's cost:
Try to get a wireless mic included as opposed to extra costs.
Tell them you're looking at other DJs also
Simply negotiate pricing, most DJ's will have 10%-15% wiggle room if their date is free and don't take it personally. A good DJ won't pester you to lock it down.
See if you can bundle other work for them if you know others getting marred same time, or try to hire them for your next corporate show also.
Promise them good reviews or exposure in the media, bridal magazines, blogs, and tell them you really want them, be honest...but follow through on your end please of reviewing them on sites like WeddingWire, Yelp, etc...
Reduce requirements on things you may not need. (e.g. Music system in the foyer before ballroom is ready, although we advice you do have that, but if you don't need it, take it out!)
Your wedding DJ is extremely important, because that's where your entire celebration culminates, on the dance floor. Will you find DJ's cheaper or more expensive than listed here?
For sure. Regardless, this should help you get a guideline on estimates and also prioritize what's important to you. Many couples don't want a rager of a reception and prefer light dancing and intimate speeches/moments and that's completely fine!
Lastly we would like to remind you that your DJ is also trying to feed his/her family and make their profit. Please pay a fair price for a service and if they're good, go ahead and pay a premium.
Questions on DJ pricing? Comment below and congratulations!