There are two types of wedding DJ in my experience. Those that have previously or are currently playing in nightclubs seeking a side income from weddings, and also those who purely want to be wedding DJs.
No matter which type you are, there are important considerations to make when starting a wedding DJ business. There are pitfalls, there are challenges, and being a wedding DJ is very, very different to playing at clubs and music events.
This is my guide to help you if you are wondering how to start a wedding DJ business, no matter what level or experience you already have. It also contains a lot of pointers on what you can expect to have to do as part of your role as a wedding DJ.
Pros & Cons to Starting a Wedding DJ Business
Let’s start with the positives.
You can charge top dollar for doing a wedding gig. Anything that has the word “wedding” attached to it automatically goes up in price, no matter what service you are providing.
Running a wedding DJ business means you can mostly only work weekends, so if you have normal Monday to Friday job, it’s something that you can fit around. But that could also be a negative, as your weekends are going to be absolutely stacked.
But with weddings, you can start this business up as a part-time venture, and slowly build yourself up whilst you learn the craft and invest in more equipment.
The job tends to be fun. Weddings are fun period. It’s a great social thing to do, and the fact that you are going to make such a huge difference to the couple’s day should, unless you get totally burned out with it, give you a great feeling.
Now how about some negatives?
It is hard work and involves late nights – plus you have a lot of pressure on you to deliver the goods on what is one of the most important days of the couple’s lives. If you get it wrong, it can really ruin the big day.
Wedding DJ gigs are very different to other gigs. You don’t just turn up and play. You need to do a lot of preparation, and in most cases, will be responsible for setting up and getting all your gear out of the venue at the end of the night. Like I said, it’s hard work.
You also need to be someone who is confident in being able to control a room and be active on the mic. Every single wedding DJ gig will require some form of vocal interaction, so if you aren’t confident in speaking in public, get practicing now! I will move onto this subject a little bit more further down the page.
It’s also a competitive and crowded market. There are plenty of wedding DJs no matter where you live in the world, so you are going to have to work hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd – again, I will talk about how to promote yourself better further down the guide.
How Much Will it Cost to Set-Up in Business?
Firstly though, let me talk a little about costs. Here are just some things that you will need to consider if you are going to start your own wedding DJ business.
- DJ equipment such as turntables, mixer, computer, lighting, and microphones.
- Supplementary items such as tables, tripods etc.
- Transport – can you fit everything in your car? You might need a van.
- Insurance – you will need this in this industry and business.
- Marketing costs – you need to print business cards, get online, pay for advertising
You can get away with doing things on a budget, but ultimately, I would say you are looking at spending anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 dollars in getting your business started up with everything that you need.
If you already have some DJ equipment, then obviously the start-up costs are going to be lower.
Investing in Wedding DJ Business Equipment
I’ve touched on costs already, but let’s look a little closer at that.
If you are starting from scratch then it’s not going to be a cheap business to get into. Running a wedding DJ business requires a lot of kit, and I’ve previously blogged about what equipment a wedding DJ will need.
It’s not just the basic equipment though, in many cases you will need duplicates of everything. Unfortunately, the nature of the business means that stuff will get damaged due to the constant setting up in venues, plus the added hazard of drunk and volatile wedding guests – think spilt drinks, your DJ table being fallen into.
Which brings me onto another further expense that you should consider – in fact, don’t even consider this one – it’s essential: wedding DJ insurance!
After you’ve spent out on the kit and insurance you are also going to need transport that can easily fit all of your equipment into.
Does Your Character Suit Being a Wedding DJ?
Not every DJ is suited to running a successful wedding DJ business. The reality is that the couple aren’t just hiring you to play music, but also potentially interact with the guests and other service suppliers at the venue.
Being able to effectively project manage at entire evening will be an invaluable skill, as well as being a people person. It’s not like being a club DJ where most of the time you can purely focus on mixing the tunes.
An example challenge that would typically present itself at a wedding is the first dance. It will be your responsibility to ensure that photographers are in place, the couple are primed and ready, and that the guests are aware of what’s just about to happen. It’s a similar scenario with the cutting of the cake.
Ask yourself if you have the right characteristics to work under pressure, be someone who can smile at all times, and provide a stunning experience to a wedding couple and their guests.
You will need an excellent work ethic, be able to understand you aren’t the most important person in the room. You might have already done 30 weddings this year, but for the couple you are working for this will be their first (in most cases).
Your job is to make things seamless, special, and memorable. Can you handle that type of responsibility?
Be Prepared to Be Much More than Just a Wedding DJ
A professional wedding DJ doesn’t just play music. In many cases you will be tasked with being an event manager, and making sure that the event flows smoothly.
For example, you might be required to do musical intros to the speeches, or there could be some unusual requests that the wedding couple wish you to cater for.
The best wedding DJs will meet with the couple well in advance of the wedding to discuss their plans and preferences. It’s their day, so you will need to be accommodating. But don’t be afraid to charge extra for anything above and beyond what might be considered outside of your typical remit.
And then of course, there’s the aspect of having to be a master of ceremonies. I put a list together of things that every wedding DJ needs to know before a gig.
Are You Confident Enough to Speak in Public?
Another thing to consider aside from the practical aspects of setting up a business is that you probably won’t just be playing music and DJ’ing. Many weddings will require the wedding DJ to also act to a master of ceremonies (MC). If you come from a club DJ background, then you might not be used to getting on the mic.
But being able to talk in public, and not being afraid to interact vocally with the wedding guests is going to be key to running a successful wedding DJ business.
This can be a very nerve-racking element to being a wedding DJ, as there will be countless occasions where you will cue’ing up music, having someone shout a request in your ear, and also be having control of the mic to provide shout-outs or crowd interaction.
Differentiate Yourself from the Competition
Wedding DJs are ten a penny. It’s easy to find them, it’s easy to book them. What I am trying to say, is that there is a ton of competition so you need to stand out from the crowd.
Take some time to think about how your wedding DJ business is going to be different and why people would recommend you – as it happens, I find that word of mouth recommendations work brilliantly in this business, sometimes offering more referrals than traditional marketing methods do.
Have a look at what wedding DJ businesses are in your local area. It’s a good start to see how they present themselves as first impressions will be hugely important. Things to look at and to improve upon include:
- Your logo and brand.
- Your social media and website presence.
- Your online reviews on Google, Facebook etc.
See what they are missing and think about whether you can fill that gap.
One hot topic at the moment could be gay weddings. For any wedding DJ business just starting out, I would recommend seriously considering this as a market to tap into.
This can be as simple as a page on your DJ website about gay weddings, or advertising the fact that you specialise in it – just one idea… I am sure you can think of more.
How to Price Your Wedding DJ Services
One of the hardest things to do is pricing. The prices that your wedding DJ business charges is down to multiple factors.
Many wedding DJs will charge on an hourly rate, so a 5-hour service could come in at $950 dollars – that type of charge really isn’t unusual.
However, it’s not unheard of for some wedding DJs to charge in excess of $2,000 for the same amount of time. The more experience you gain, and the better your reputation, the more you will be able to charge.
Please don’t undervalue your service though. With the average cost of weddings now into 5 figures, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be charging a premium for what you do.
If you are based in the United States, there is this very cool website (CostOfWedding.com) where you can type in a zip code and see what the average cost of a wedding is. Put your client’s zip code in here and look at the line that refers to entertainment – this is you!
Using the website above will give you a great guide as to the type of price you can charge on the day. Don’t under-sell yourself, running a wedding DJ business is expensive, and you’ve spent years learning your craft and investing in equipment.
You might also be interested in this article where I talk about how much wedding DJs can earn in a year. It shows example data depending on your experience and how often you will be prepared to work each month.
Marketing Your Business
It goes without saying that you will need to promote and market your business. Aspects that you will need to set-up are:
- A logo and brand
- Business cards
- Facebook page
- Website (not essential, but recommended)
As I’ve already mentioned earlier, first impressions are really essential in this line of business so invest in a decent logo.
If you don’t have any designer friends or can’t design yourself then I recommend the 48HoursLogo website – for $29 dollars you can get 20 designers creating you a DJ logo, and you then choose the winner. The designs will be unique and very good.
Once you have that logo and brand you can get your business cards printed up and develop your social media presence.
I said that a website isn’t essential. It is possible to just a Facebook page, but a proper website will look so much more professional and gives you a much better opportunity to represent your wedding DJ business in a good light.
Finally, I would always recommend that after each wedding gig you get the happy couple to review you on Google and Facebook. Having positive online reviews will offer the social proof and peace of mind to any potential customers who are looking into hiring you.
There is a book I recommend that will help you to ensure that you create the perfect wedding experience for the couple. It’s called The Best Wedding Reception Ever (buy on Amazon) and is essential reading for any wedding DJ or business.
How to Start a Wedding DJ Business – The Last Word
I hope this article has helped, and I wish you every success in starting your wedding DJ business. I do have some closing words of advice though which is summed up by saying, “don’t start a wedding DJ business unless you are committed to it”.
You are dealing with the most important day of a couple’s life here. Not only that, but this isn’t a regular job with regular hours.
Being a wedding DJ is great fun. You will make new friends, make a difference to people’s lives, and earn a great side or full-time income.
Be committed to it, and there’s no reason why your wedding DJ business can’t be a huge success.
PS: I have placed an audio version of this guide on YouTube which you can listen to below.