How Much Should I Pay for my Wedding DJ?
A good question and something we really can't answer but we can give our advice as per usual. When you start to look around you'll find that DJ prices vary massively and the old adage you get what you pay for is often true.
Two things you need to ask yourself straight away is where on my list of importance does the DJ come and therefore how important is allocating budget to this service and how important to the success of my wedding will the DJ be.
I'll provide an example, if your LOVE letters or LED Starlit dance floor don't turn up your party can still go on and people might not even know you hired them. Is that true of the DJ and their disco?
Next you need to consider how big a part the DJ will play in your wedding day. Are you having other entertainment alongside like a band or singer where the DJ might be secondary, You may even be having a caricature artist or table magician where the DJ is primary and these are an embellishment. This again will highly influence your allocation of budget and its probably worth while making an actual entertainment budget and putting it quite high up the list if your really wanting to put on a show.
Don't forget however some DJs can also become hosts, toastmasters, even celebrants which can give direction to your day and help you to keep things on time. Ask your DJ if he offers a full day service and what other than background music and PA use does this include. Obviously having someone there all day instead of just the evening will cost more but can be really worth the extra.
As I said earlier DJs come at all prices and wedding DJs can cost you between £100 and £1000 (or even more in some areas). So what part of the range do you go for:
Budget Wedding DJs £100-199
This is the hobby end of the market and where you will find new DJs just starting out. Once any DJ who wants to earn a living from this job gets the experience they normally increase the price. Because of this you will find a lot of risk in this price range and less professional edge. Booking your DJ may not require a deposit, will probably not come with a contract and most annoyingly for us professionals they tend to let people down more often as they don't rely on the money.
To do things this cheap the Budget DJ will often offer little in the way of client protection and may not even operate legally just pocketing their earnings. What can this mean to our brides on a budget? No insurance, old or poorly maintained equipment, low quality illegal music collections, DJ rigs that looked good in the 80s but look tired now, Your booking is probably kept in an online calendar and there is no real attempt to get to know the client as there gonna turn up and play what they want.
The Mid Range Wedding DJ £200-399
You should now be dealing with an experienced operator. Many DJs in the price range might be very good bit lack the knowledge and ability to sell themselves well and this can be to your benefit. At this price the DJ will care about their equipment, have pride in appearance and will care about doing well and getting reviews and recommendations from your event.
You might even come across the Multi Op Businesses who operate serval DJs with have a lock up full of equipment. Some DJ will be full time doing this as their sole vocation where as some still hold down a job for extra security. The only real difference being the ability to take on mid-week and daytime work. This is a great place to be with your budget as you'll get choice and someone who really wants to DJ at your wedding.
A benefit of this group is that your might start getting extra services as bolt ons, better booking systems that manage the clients and personalised touches like meetings and wedding planners.
The High End Wedding DJ £400+
These DJs should be oozing experience or be top of the tree at marketing themselves and selling their benefits. Experience and knowledge help to make the party run smoothly and over the years they develop an intuition as to the when, where and why things work on the dance floor. If your paying top money you should be getting a very personalised service and that should come with a sales meeting before you even choose the DJ.
These DJs might even be at the level where they are almost choosing their clients with a list of people recommending them they can't hope to fulfil. The high end DJ undoubtedly wants to be at your wedding all day and provide his services as an Emcee or Host so they get the chance to meet with the guests and form relationships before they even play a track.
With the top end comes everything you'd expect, back up equipment, contingency plans, talent and skill as both a DJ and Host. There should be multiple meetings or contacts and this person will be a font of knowledge and help. You might even find very unique touches that this DJ adds to your day like the Love Story or a Room Introduction.
So is this all written in stone?
Well no. The transitions are not always this clean cut and this is why you should always shop around, get quotes and compare the packages especially if your going to spend a lot of money on your DJ. However always be alert to the fact good DJs get booked fast and its normally first come first served.
The low tier will be watching the mid tier and the mid tier watching to top end as they struggle to climb the ladder of success. Just be careful that you are getting what you want as many packages are fixed and might contain stuff you don't want or need. Always check out reviews as well and worry if there all perfect as this can be as much a lemon as non at all.
If you're looking for a deal there are certainly some to be found if you shop around but I do feel you should decide on a budget early in your plan and stick to it. Just remember that your entertainment probably should be one of the top items on the list and no an after thought. Some brides spend more money on favours, seating plans and dance floors that they do on getting a good DJ to fill it.