Wedding DJ: Everything you need to know in 2020

Wedding DJ: Everything you need to know in 2020

Wedding DJ: Everything you need to know in 2020!

Music is considered an essential part of every wedding. Whether you pick a band or a wedding DJ, you must know the cost, what to ask, and what other things to consider before hiring. 

You will never hear about an excellent wedding venue without music. This is why hiring your wedding DJ or band will be one of the most important decisions you will make. 

Nowadays, couples spend more money on their wedding than in past years. However, they tend to spend more of their budget on their guests’ experience. They are focusing more on entertainment, music, food, and drinks. 

If you decide to hire a wedding planner who will organize every detail of your wedding, you can lay back, relax and enjoy the most beautiful day of your life. If, on the other hand, you are prepared and determined to plan the whole wedding by yourself, you will come across a large list of things to do.

Here is a small list of things you will have to organize for your wedding:

  • Date
  • Wedding destination / Venue
  • Food and beverages
  • Photographer and videographer
  • Decor and design
  • Sitting table plan
  • Flowers
  • Wedding cake 
  • Invitations
  • Accommodation / Transportation
  • Travel arrangements 
  • Finding the best wedding DJ or band
  • and many more…

Wedding DJ vs. Band:

Since you are already reading this article, you have probably decided on a wedding DJ. Choosing between a band or a DJ is an ultimately personal matter, and you should not mislead by costs or other peoples’ opinions. 

The basic differences between a wedding DJ and a band:

  1. A wedding DJ with all the necessary equipment is more affordable than a live band. A wedding band is probably going to cost you twice as much.
  2. A live band will take much more space than a DJ. A drum set, guitars, keyboards, and amps for 4-5 member band members will require a significant bigger venue stage than a single artist with a DJ setup. If you have a small wedding reception with a few guests and limited space, this is an important factor to consider.
  3. Bands are limited to a specific genre and style of music. With a DJ, you can have Queen, Beyonce, M. Jackson, Barry White, and every other of your favorite artists and music style.
  4. Although live bands lose in popularity, they still are a great, more elegant, and very romantic option for music entertainment at your wedding. The sound of live vocals and musical instruments is irresistible and something you do not often meet. You will even see DJs trying to adapt musical instruments in their DJ set. For example, take a look at eight concerts of electronic music and live instrumentation.

Now, if you have decided on wedding DJs, we have collected all the pieces of information to find the best DJ for your wedding venue.


wedding DJ for reception

photo credits: Natalia Petraki

Looking for a professional DJ while planning your wedding will be time-consuming and demanding. Our simple guide below will give you all the details, things to consider, average cost, and questions to ask your wedding DJ before hiring them.

Hire a wedding DJ or find a cheaper alternative?

Couples on a tight budget may consider asking a friend to DJ or make themselves a tracklist on Spotify and play it at the wedding reception. However, having a DJ for your wedding day will keep your guests entertained throughout your wedding venue. Furthermore, a professional DJ has the experience to create a great atmosphere and keep the dance floor packed all night.

Even tho, you might already know what music you want on your wedding day, it is very different listening to one song play after another, compared to a DJ who will read the crowd and play the proper music accordingly.

Your DJ will guide you through all the steps to plan an order of events, adjust in the timeline, help with first dance choices, offer instructions for toasts, and music choices for the whole night, including cocktail hour, ceremony, dinner, and dance time.

Things to consider when hiring a wedding DJ:

  1. The cost to hire a DJ: The cost of hiring a DJ, depends on a variety of things, such as the date, place, duration and many more, that we will see below.
  2. Professional wedding DJ: An experienced DJ chooses a mix of songs that will get your guests on the dance floor and enjoy every moment of your wedding.
  3. DJ with equipment: Worrying about audio and visual equipment should not be in your to-do list. An experienced DJ with his/her own equipment is the best option.
  4. Flexible DJ: The DJ does not only need to have a sizable music collection, and a variety of music, but be prepared to adjust, add, and drop songs that you prefer.

How to pick a wedding DJ? 

  • Pick a wedding DJ with experience. It is essential to find a DJ or a band dedicated to performing at weddings or have previous experience from these events. Playing music at weddings is very different compared to other events such as house parties, clubs, pubs or festivals. DJs with no experience performing at weddings will be more likely to have a pour music repertoire or don’t know how to structure their performance properly. Experienced wedding DJs can create the proper atmosphere with light dinner music, and then slowly move to a dance vibe. 
  • Find a DJ with equipment. Wedding DJs with their own equipment will probably be more expensive than the DJs who will come with just their USB stick and a laptop. Except of the apparent reason for costly DJ gear, it will also raise the expenses of transportation. Furthermore, heavy equipment might need extra staff and time to transfer it and set it up. If, on the other hand, you can make sure that the equipment of the venue is sufficient, and the wedding DJ also confirmes it, then you can make some savings. Conventional equipment of wedding DJs includes a DJ booth with a controller, mixer, turntables, and a laptop. Monitor speakers and loudspeakers, as well, lighting with a mixing console to create the proper atmosphere throughout your wedding day. More below.
  • Pick a wedding DJ that adjust to many music genres. It is essential to find a wedding DJ who is flexible but creative, and willing to work with your preferences and suggestions. Every wedding is unique, and each one of us has a different taste in music. Whether you like Jazz, Blues, or Classic Rock, or prefer dance music and popular pop songs, feel free to share your preferences with the wedding DJ. But do NOT choose every single song that you want them to play, nor give them a list with 200 songs. Ideally, suggest a maximum 30 must-have playlist and maybe some songs to avoid. 
  • Find a DJ that fits your budget. An essential part of hiring a DJ is the cost. If you have an unlimited budget, find the most expensive one, add all the services, book the day you want, and you are done. Since for most of us, the price is an important factor, it is essential to find the average costs and when DJ services are considered over-priced or excellent value-for-money choices. 

When should you book your wedding DJ:

Wedding DJs should be one of the first vendors you book for your wedding. We recommend hiring your DJ at least 8-12 months before your wedding day. You will most likely meet or contact your DJ several times before your wedding to discuss your schedule, playlist, timeline, and any other important details.

Booking as early as possible gives benefits – usually cheaper pricing, and a longer time for planning!

If your wedding day is on a less popular date, such as a Monday or Sunday, you may find availability until “last-minute”. However, festive or celebrational dates that are very popular, you will have to make a booking as earlier as possible. 

Every professional DJ will ask for a small deposit in order to book your date. it may also come with a short contract, describing the services, costs cancellation policy and more. This way you will also feel safe that the entertainment part, is consider done, and have plenty of time to concentrate on the rest vendors. A standard rate for booking deposit is from 10 to 20% of the total price. 

How to pick-up a professional wedding DJ over an amateur: 

  • A professional DJ will reply to your message or request in the first 48 hours, including weekends. 
  • Experienced DJs will ask you many questions about your wedding day, such as available space for equipment, the wedding theme, and time-schedule in order for them to get a clear image of your wedding plan. If your wedding DJ understands exactly what you want, they are most likely to deliver to your standards.
  • Most wedding DJs will offer you their own music database for you to pick your favorite music or songs to avoid. They will also suggest you and give you ideas for first-dance songs, dinner music and what tracks can make your guests dancing all night long.
  • A professional DJ will be willing to schedule a quick phone call or Facetime to discuss details about your wedding, preferences, schedule, details, and more. 
  • A wedding dedicated DJ will also show you a well-presented bio with photos of previous venues, photos of equipment, and reviews. Neat looking material, informative, and well-organized presentation are elements that indicate a professional DJ.

You do not want to end up doing business with someone you do not like. In the end, you will have to choose the person who “feels” right to you. It is the most important factor in picking the proper DJ or band for your wedding, party, or reception.

Should I give a playlist to my wedding DJ?

As we mentioned before, a DJ will most likely ask you for your favorite songs and genres. Otherwise, feel free to share with your DJ your preferences and discuss how to fit them into your wedding schedule and plan. Do not offer him a hundred songs to play, but give him your top 20 songs, and let him fill in for the rest of the night.

Before making the track-list of your wedding venue, remember that this will be playing while you’re eating, drinking, dancing, and socializing with your guests. Choose some of your favorite songs in a mix of ballads and dance tunes. Along with all “must-have” wedding songs, you could also point to songs or genres you definitely don’t want. It’s important to consider the music taste of your guests as well.

wedding DJ

Wedding DJ Cost:

How much does a wedding DJ cost? 

It is essential to understand that the cost of a wedding DJ depends on a variety of things.

  • Wedding Destination: DJs are usually more expensive in larger metropolitan areas. Whether in urban locations with few residents, where the cost of living is generally lower, the price will probably be much less.
  • Time of the year: The time of year is playing a role for the final cost of your wedding DJ. Some DJs offer a discount in the off-season or during the week.
  • Duration of the wedding venue: Some DJs offer a per hour price-scheme, while others prefer per event, with small adjustments according to the duration.
  • DJ’s transfer: Most wedding DJs in 2020 will be willing to travel a reasonable distance from their home to perform at your wedding venue. However, you will have to be prepared to pay an extra fee for flight tickets, gas spending, and hotel accommodation. 
  • With or without equipment: Most venues have installed all the proper lighting and sound equipment for your band or DJ to come and perform live. If, however, you have planned your wedding venue in a private area, such as a villa, then you will have to search for a wedding DJ with their own equipment. Of course, this will also raise the cost of the DJ’s transportation. 

Most DJs will charge a flat fee for the entire wedding, while others might give you a per hour charge. Your reception could go on more than the projected schedule; an hourly rate ensures that you will have music from the start to the end of your wedding. Even tho, there are many variables to answer the question “how much cost a wedding DJ”, there are trends in demographics that can give us an estimate.

Here is the average wedding DJ cost per hour:

average-cost-wedding-dj-with-equipment average-cost-wedding-dj-without-equipment

  • Upper Range: A wedding DJ in a major metro area will run anywhere from $800 to $2,000. This is the average cost for a professional wedding DJ without equipment. For a DJ with all audio and visual equipment for a four to six-hour wedding reception, it will move from $1,200 to $3,000.
  • Middle Range: In smaller cities, the average is slightly lower, between $1000 and $2,000 with the equipment. Just for the DJ service, it will cost you from $600 to $1,500.
  • Lower Range: In rural areas and cities with a lower cost of living, the price range is significantly lower. You can expect to pay $800 to $1,500 for the DJ and standard equipment.

What is included in the price of wedding DJs?

  • Music – Professional DJs usually buy their music at the preferred format, but also it still requires skills and knowledge to create the ideal wedding track-list.
  • Equipment – Most wedding DJs out there will come with their own equipment. Including speakers, microphones, lighting, and recording equipment. Purchasing and maintaining most DJ equipment is quite expensive.
  • Expertise – A great DJ does more than just play music. If you read reviews and see photos and videos of full packed dance-floors, then you found a DJ with expertise and experience to make your wedding venue a day to remember.
  • Time – It is not just the time that the DJ will perform at your wedding reception. It takes time to prepare the music according to your unique preferences, requirements, and wedding schedule. Also, your DJ will travel, set up, perform, and break down for a long time before and after your wedding venue.
  • Operational costs – These include things such as paying rent for an office, business licenses, and marketing costs. Most importantly is the insurance that protects you, your DJ, and your venue in the unlikely event of injury due to the heavy equipment.

Do you tip a wedding DJ?

Even tho it is not common for couples to tip their wedding DJ, we would recommend tipping them around 5-10 percent of the total bill. 

If your wedding DJ followed your suggestions and plan, but most importantly, was able to get the guests happy and on their feet dancing, then he deserves a good tip.

Equipment of wedding DJs:

As we mentioned above, your wedding DJ will probably provide a variety of equipment, depending on your needs and venue. A standard sound system for a wedding DJ includes a DJ controller with a laptop or DJ desks, speakers, microphones, and headphones. Some DJs can provide lighting, video screen, and projection equipment in case you want to show a video during your reception. There are also some extras your DJ company may offer, including photo booths and karaoke machines. 

You could also buy some of the equipment and use it whenever and wherever you want in the future. Check out the best DJ lights and best-powered speakers for DJs and get a list of good quality and affordable equipment to use at your wedding venue.

Questions to ask your wedding DJ:

You need to have full trust and confidence in your choice of a DJ or band. You’ll want to make sure that your wedding DJ feels and sounds comfortable over the phone, and he/she has a pleasant attitude and energy. When you’re at your wedding, and the DJ is making all the announcements, they should sound excited to you and your guests.

That is why the first contact it should ideally be over the phone. There are a few things to ask your DJ over the phone or Facetime:

First contact:

  • Do you have any packages/deals?
  • Do you provide lighting and audio equipment?
  • Can you adjust to our preferred music genres?
  • Can I see photos of your past wedding venues?
  • How much will your DJ services cost?
  • What is included in your prices?
  • Are you available for my wedding date?
  • Do you charge for travel and accommodation?

The answers to the above questions will give you a clear image of the DJ and his/her services. If the DJ meets your expectations, then there are a few more things to consider before making the final booking.

Before booking:

  • Are you insured?
  • What type of equipment do you use?
  • Can we provide a list of what music we want to be played?
  • Do you provide visual effects, a karaoke machine, or other extra services?
  • Are there any additional costs or fees for your services?
  • What do we need to do to reserve our date with you?

From the day of the booking since the day of your wedding, there is plenty of time to discuss the last details.

After booking:

  • What time will you arrive for set up?
  • Can you work with us to create the wedding playlist?
  • Do you let the guests make requests?
  • Will you perform on our wedding day, or will someone else perform the event?
  • Are there specific genres of music you prefer playing?
  • What are your favorite first dance songs?
  • Can we provide a list of what music we want to be played?
  • Can you record the music on our wedding day?



The best DJ controller in the market under $1200

A wedding reception should be a celebration that brings together the couple’s family and friends for a memorable day. Wedding venues are all about having a good time. Mostly for guests, but live performers and DJs as well. 

How to be a good DJ at a wedding?

If you believe that the job of a professional wedding DJ is just to play music, you are poorly informed. Follow the below, and guests might ask you for a tracklist, a copy of your set, or DJ at their weddings.

  • Create and follow a specific timeline. Contact the wedding planner, and couple, and get the exact schedule of the wedding venue to plan your tracklists and visuals ideally.
  • Build a nice atmosphere and “rock” the dancefloor. Good DJs know how to read the crowd and keep the mood going with both upbeat and slow songs. Be also prepared to announce things such as last call, speeches, or other information about the after-party, etc..
  • Have an outgoing and energetic personality. This is suggested for all live performers and not just wedding dedicated DJs.
  • Create the proper atmosphere with lighting and visuals. If your wedding DJ services include the equipment, make sure to program them according to the music and theme of the wedding.
  • Hide your cables and pick white-colored equipment. The whole venue is going to be harmonically decorated, white-themed, with flowers and other ornamental. So, it is essential to make it first of all safe and do not have unattended cables hanging around, and secondly, your equipment must go unnoticed, as you are not the main subject of the day. 
  • Record your set. One thing most couples forget to consider is to record the music of their wedding venue. Make sure you get one of the best portable audio recorders, or multitrack recorders and be prepared to get asked for copies.

How much to charge to be a DJ at a wedding?

You are probably not the first wedding DJ in your area. Nor the second or the third. Spy your competitors and take their price lists. Start by offering the best price compared to them to get your first bookings. This is a fast and straightforward way to find how much to charge for a wedding event.

It is essential to offer both per hour and per event booking options to adjust according to people’s needs. Make sure your services and requests are easily understandable and create a price list with a variety of packages.