Why do professional DJ’s charge more for a wedding than other events?

Recently, ABC News 20/20 did an undercover story on wedding professionals entitled “Wedding Confidential”. It was an “investigative” story on wedding professionals and their goal was to unleash the “secrets” of “why” wedding professionals “take advantage” of brides and grooms. I watched this story and honestly couldn’t believe how one sided and untruthful this “investigation” was. They interviewed 13 DJ’s. They had one of their female employees call up and request information for a wedding, then another called and asked about information for a 40th birthday party. Well, 10 of the 13 DJ’s said they charge more for a wedding than they would a 40th birthday party, which is true because weddings require a lot more detail and planning than a 40th birthday party. What 20/20 failed to show the viewer was “why” professional DJ’s charge more for weddings than other events. They said they wanted to “expose the secrets” vendors use to ”take advantage” of brides and grooms when planning a wedding, which was unfairly making DJ’s and other wedding professionals out to be “scam artists”, which obviously isn’t what the wedding industry is about.

During the program, they made it sound like DJ’s  (and other wedding vendors) “take advantage” of brides and grooms by raising our rates simply because it is a wedding. They also wanted the viewer to think we do the same thing at every event we perform, but we intentionally mark up our prices for weddings, which isn’t true. As a professional mobile DJ who cares about each and every one of his clients, I found this show to not only be misleading to brides and grooms, but they obviously didn’t “investigate” the story to get the truth. So in this blog, I wanted to talk about “why” we, professional mobile DJ’s,  charge more for weddings than other events.

The short answer is simply this…..with weddings, we normally spend an average of 25-30 hours on one wedding. That includes the first consultation, all the planning, the performance time (which is the 3 or 4 hours most people normally see), setting up / breaking down the equipment, and traveling. For other events, such as parties or school dances, there isn’t a lot of “planning” that goes into those events nor is there nearly as much emcee’ing and directing as there is for a wedding. We do a lot more “work” with weddings than we do with parties or school dances, so naturally, it will cost more for a wedding (which requires a lot of detail and planning) than it would a party or school dance. Of course we still give professional service to parties and school dances because we want those events to be the absolute best they can be as well, but they are totally different events than weddings and require a different level of planning. For example I wouldn’t do the same thing at a wedding reception that I would do for a sweet 16 party or a Halloween party in someone’s living room because they are totally different events, totally different atmospheres, and totally different clients with entirely different needs.

Here’s something to consider…would you want a DJ who does the same thing at every event? Would you want a DJ who would plan your wedding the same way he would plan and perform a child’s birthday party? Of course you wouldn’t. You would want a DJ / emcee who knows how to plan and perform wedding receptions. 20/20 gave the impression that professional mobile DJ’s come to every event, sets up, plays music for about 3 or 4 hours, then leaves….which, if that were true, would make it seem like the DJ is making a lot of money and not doing a lot of work. What they failed to show the viewer is most of the DJ’s work is done before he ever arrives at the venue. What most people see at the reception itself (the DJ’s performance) is the “finished product” after many, many, hours of preparation and planning have gone into making that reception what it is. It may look “easy” on the outside (and if we make it look “easy”, then we have done our job), but it really takes a lot of hard work, dedication, preparation, and talent to do what we do. We actually serve as the bride and groom’s advisor, planner, and the person they can depend on to make their reception a success. Being a professional mobile DJ is like any other profession on this one simple fact…the more work we do the more it’s going to cost, hence why weddings cost more than other events. It’s just like taking your car to the mechanic, your mechanic isn’t going to charge you the same to change your oil as he would if you need your engine rebuilt. He has to do a lot more work and put in a lot more time to rebuild your engine, so you would end up paying more for that than you would a simple oil change. It’s essentially the same with professional mobile DJ’s.

On prices, I can’t really speak on behalf of other DJ’s on what they should or should not charge, but I can tell you what I do. As a professional mobile DJ, I realize brides and grooms are on a budget. I use to charge “one price” for weddings, but then I decided to break my prices down into different packages. I have packages that can really fit any budget. I have 3 main wedding packages. I have a “basic package”, an “all inclusive reception package”, and an “All inclusive ceremony and reception” package. Each package has different options so the bride and groom can look at each one and decide what is best for them. But again, the “All Inclusive ceremony and reception” package would cost more than the “basic reception” package because it includes more options, more extras, and more planning. All 3 of my wedding packages would cost more than my party or school dance packages because they involve a lot more work and planning. (I still spend an average of 25-30 hours on the basic wedding package).

I hope I have been able to shed some light on this question. Remember, if you hire a professional mobile DJ for your wedding, you will find out it is well worth the price in the end. After all, wouldn’t you want to leave your reception saying “That was the BEST reception I have EVER been to”?  Your DJ will be there for you to make sure your day is the absolute best that it can be. Just remember that professional DJ’s charge more for weddings because we put in a lot more work, and you want a professional DJ who will give you that special attention to detail in making your wedding day everything you have always dreamed of.

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida market. Please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.