I recently received an email inquiry from a newly engaged couple. It was a simple, two-sentence question.
“How much do you charge for your services? We are paying for our wedding ourselves and want to keep the cost reasonable.”
It’s a simple question and they expected a simple answer. However, there is no universal figure that can be considered “reasonable”. You are not taught in the fifth grade that “If you ever hire a DJ, $500 is the reasonable amount you should pay”.
Their reasonable amount could easily be $2,000. I don’t know WHAT their idea of reasonability means to them. So this is not an easy question to deal with.
I know that my prices are reasonable to me. In fact, if you want to know the truth, when I tell people my prices, nine out of ten probably think I must be Richie Rich, sitting in a mansion taking baths in tubs full of hundred-dollar bills (which I would never do because not only is it unsanitary and wouldn’t clean my body … the risk of paper cuts …). But that’s not the case. Because when many people start thinking of hiring vendors, they think “I’m having a four hour wedding reception so I’m paying someone for four hours of their time”. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Keep these factors in mind when a wedding vendor gives you their prices.
A professional vendor knows that we have to charge for EVERYTHING that we use in order to make your event a success. Speaking strictly for myself, I have to charge you a “rental fee” for my equipment. Several times a year, I have to replace pieces of my equipment due to wear and tear. It might be a speaker, a laptop, a mixer, speaker stands, cables, headphones, a light, a microphone … something. And NONE of these things are cheap. Charging this rental fee guarantees that if something DOES need replaced, I can replace it with ease so that YOUR event doesn’t suffer. The rental fee is approximately $300 of your cost. And yes, you can get someone to DJ your event for $300 total, I know this. But that means either the DJ doesn’t understand the rental fee equation and will be out of business the first time they blow a speaker or they have very cheap, non-professional equipment that they’ll be using for the most important party you’ll ever throw. Basically, we’re talking Radio Shack quality. If you want a Radio Shack quality wedding, by all means, pay that man $300!
There are several other things you’re paying for. I have to pay taxes on everything. I have to have business licenses in order to perform. I need liability insurance. I have to pay marketing costs to Google, Wedding Wire, WeDJ, Gig Salad and more. I have a company vehicle that needs routine maintenance to ensure that I can make it to your party. And don’t forget about the costs of websites, the domain name, the servers that host this site. What about the time spent meeting with clients, answering their phone calls, their emails, their texts? Shoot, the time spent writing this blog trying to educate potential clients? The amount of hours I put into organizing not only your event so that it is a professionally organized event with no lag time that keeps your guests entertained and informed from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave? The countless books, DVDs, seminars and conventions across the country that I attend to make sure that you get not only a quality event but one that’s not outdated and features the latest party trends performed by a qualified and certified master of ceremonies?
And I haven’t even mentioned the music, have I? I have to purchase and own every single song that I play in public PLUS thousands of other songs as well so if a guest wants to hear “Brandy” by Looking Glass or “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor, I have it ready for them. You may not want them … but your grandmother might want them because she danced to it at her wedding. I have to have that covered. I couldn’t call myself a DJ if I didn’t.
And finally, you have to pay for … me. My time. I love my job and if I could afford to, I’d do it for free. But I have private school, a mortgage, college funds, groceries, utilities of my own. So I have to charge an honest fee for coming to your event, utilizing the over-30 years of experience and knowledge to give you an amazing evening of fun and memories. I’m the one creating the smiles and the memories that your photographer captures in their great photographs. We work in tandem to do that for you so that you’re given a day and a party that you will never ever forget.
So when you hear a price for the first time from your DJ or photographer or caterer, take into consideration ALL the things that go into that figure. You’re not just paying people to show up and press buttons for you. You’re paying for everything it takes for them to be able to press those buttons and give you amazing results and peace of mind that you’ve hired the best.
That sounds “reasonable” doesn’t it?