My very first public event as a DJ was a good friend's wedding reception. Back then, all I had was my turntables and a few records that I practiced with in my small apartment. Maybe if I knew as much about what all is involved with being a wedding DJ/MC as I do now, I would have been nervous and perhaps would have turned down my friends' invitation.
We had to rent an amplifier, speakers, and microphone from a local sound company. The little money I was paid went toward the purchase of more music. It was an honor to be part of the special day, and I can report that the couple is still together 15 years later. Since then, my DJ skills have been perfected and I no longer have to rent anything. My booking calendar fills up quickly. Indeed my business has been blessed.
Over the years, Perfect Entertainment has performed at hundreds of weddings, each one presenting a different venue layout, equipment requirement, guest count, and set of challenges. In order to rise to the level of professional DJ, and one of the most sought after and respected professional entertainers in the wedding industry, many hours of preparation and practice has been required. In one of my wedding videos, I mentioned that being an awesome Wedding DJ is more than just showing up and playing hot music. Much time and planning goes into preparing for each wedding. Here are just some of the things that we do as wedding DJs:
- Initial meeting/consultation
- Acquiring & organizing requested music
- Phone conversations/video chats with clients
- Responding to email/text inquiries from clients
- Visiting or communicating with venue representatives
- Communicating with wedding planner
- Assisting client with timeline/music requests
- Pre-programming and setup of Uplighting or Gobo monogram
- Up to 16 hours of work on day of wedding (loading equipment, driving to venue, setup, event performance, breakdown, loading vehicle, commute back home)
- Provide music and PA system for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception
- Introduce wedding party and make announcements
- Work with wedding planner to keep to the established timeline
- Ensure that photographers, videographers are in place for each moment
Some weddings require additional prep and equipment beyond the usual sound system, lights, and microphones. For example, some venue layouts make it necessary to bring in additional speakers or wireless setups. It's easy to see why there is usually a customized quote for each event, based on several factors. However, there is typically a general price range given by most DJ companies.
The old cliche, "You get what you pay for" is usually true in the wedding industry. Most of the experienced and highly talented DJs are going to cost significantly more than the beginners. Just like relationships, there is somebody for everybody. If you're on a tight budget, there are cheap DJs out there. Unfortunately, in most cases they lack top-notch equipment, mixing ability, and the ability to adapt to curve balls that comes with experience.
Our clients have been wonderful to work with because they appreciate quality and professionalism to the degree that many of them have made comments such as, "We don't care what it costs, we have to have you for our wedding." Because integrity is very important to us, our prices are not inflated when we hear this. The point is that the more people understand the time and effort that goes into preparing for their wedding, along with the many things that wedding DJs actually do to make the wedding come off successfully, clients are more than willing to pay what you are really worth as a professional. Rocking the party is usually the easiest thing to do for an experienced DJ. There is so much more that goes into making sure that your wedding is truly one to remember.
To those shopping for a wedding DJ, remember that you only get one choice for your special day. Choose wisely and save up a little more money to get the best available performer, rather than splurging on a candy table or ice sculpture that people won't remember years later. To fellow DJs, know your worth, and don't take shortcuts. Exceed your clients' expectations. Every event has guests who are potentially your next clients. You're always building your brand with each performance.
Check out this video from Brian S. Redd who discusses the prep time involved with a wedding gig: https://youtu.be/NS2JfxHfy4o