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The Charleston Wedding DJ: How Much Should It Cost?

25 January 2018

It's that time of the year again, you just got engaged and have begun to plan your upcoming 2018 or even 2019 wedding here in Charleston. You've begun doing some of the preliminary research about your wedding vendors. If right now as you read this blog post, you all of a sudden feel overwhelmed and need help executing the vision for your wedding day, I strongly recommend you look into hiring a wedding planner or coordinator before you get too far along in your planning. If you are interested, click HERE to visit a post I made last year on reasons to hire a wedding planner.  As you may have read on my website and blog, Mike Bills Entertainment is an "owner-operated" professional wedding DJ company in Charleston. My company is not large at all, as it is just "me", so this means there is no confusing staff with an army of DJs. You'll work with one DJ throughout the entire process (the actual owner of the company) from the time you book, until your wedding reception is over. YOUR wedding day becomes MY wedding day because since there is no DJ staff, there is NO chance of confusion developing as to who your DJ is going to be. There is only going to be ONE wedding booked per day, that being YOUR wedding. You'd be surprised how many of these multiple operator companies toss your wedding date around like it's a football. This is because YOUR date becomes someone else's date as it's double, triple, or even quadruple-booked. And as a result, YOUR date might get lost in the shuffle and the DJ you thought was going to be there might not actually be there on your wedding day. The sad thing is some of these companies are not going to tell you this.

What About Prices?
I knew your eyes would light up a little bit when I mention money.  The American DJ Association states that the average cost for a 4 hour wedding reception (nationwide average) is about $1,200. But, with Charleston, SC being the Number 2 wedding destination in the country that has numerous seasoned wedding DJs, you might can expect to pay a little more. Back in 2014, the Knot stated that their average wedding DJ price was $1,124.  Thumbtack put their average cost for a Charleston wedding DJ between $700.00 and $750.00, and Gigmasters put their average around the $700.00 price point. You might be asking why the rather large price difference? Well, for instance, look at Gigmasters; what are the two words you see? "Gig" and "Masters". You might also ask yourself this question: In regards to websites like Gigmasters, do you really want to hire a wedding DJ who only sees your wedding as just another "gig", or do you want to employ the true professional wedding DJ who isn't interesting in leveling the playing field by subscribing to sites of that nature; and is more interested in giving you the absolute best "experience" for you and your guests on your wedding day.  That "experience" begins as soon as you book with my company and does not end until the last song finishes up.  Be sure you are looking at websites like The Knot and Weddingwire instead, as they are websites that specialize in weddings and are built for the modern bride. Check out their reviews and online reputation. Also be sure to check out their social media too, like Instagram and Twitter. It is also my recommendation to check out some of the local wedding magazines like Charleston Weddings Magazine, blogs like The Wedding Row, and do some accurate Google searches to see which DJ companies are showing up in the Top 10 search results on Google.  In case you missed it, here's a post I did in late December about some of the things to remember when using sites like Thumbtack and Craigslist, click HERE to take a look.

The price of your wedding DJ is really going to be dependent on what it is that you really want in the person who is going to be in charge of one of the most important aspects of your wedding day; the entertainment. Unfortunately, after a pretty exhaustive search online, the standards of what brides have come to expect in a wedding DJ have hit levels that are really low. While there are lots of DJs out there who fail to post their rates on their website, I believe it's a best business practice and it helps out prospective brides and grooms considerably because it lets them know what they are up against in terms of pricing.  Basing your decision solely on price is the best way to hire the wrong DJ, and as I have said in the past, this is not part of your wedding where you can afford to make a mistake. There are no do-overs, unless you want to spend what you are going to spend on your wedding TWICE. But, most brides and grooms are usually thinking about a nice honeymoon or a downpayment on a house after their wedding, so a do-over is not an option. :) 
The $500.00 Or Less Price | The Craiglister
No true professional wedding DJ in Charleston, SC could afford to own an upscale business charging this price for a 4 hour wedding reception. What about ceremony music? Will they be able to handle additional rooms for your reception with the proper professional grade gear? A price this low would be found on websites like Craigslist or Thumbtack. Do they have backup gear? How much effort will they put into making your day the absolute best? These are all just some of the questions to ask. Do they have liability insurance?
The $700.00 - $900.00 Price | The Multi-Op 
While this price is higher, it's indicative of what the multi-system companies might charge you. Those are the companies who have 8 or 10 DJs on staff, and oftentimes you do not know who is going to be your DJ. Prices are lower because these types of companies work in "quantity" rather than "quality". When you are a company that can do multiple weddings per day, you can afford to lower your prices, but this does not necessarily mean the quality is the same as if you were to hire a company like mine. 
The $1200.00 Price | The Professional Grade Price
The above price point does not include ceremony music, which means an additional setup for an extra cost. Online music planning is available at this price, and DJs operating at this level have backup equipment, insurance, and professional MC skills. The professional level is usually in the $1200 - $1600 range, and there is another professional  wedding DJ grade who may incorporate live music into their DJ sets that would be at an even higher price point that the professional grade price.

Why Are Some of The Top Wedding DJs In Charleston Priced Higher?

Marketing: The best wedding DJs are putting close to a quarter of their revenues into marketing. There are monthly fees to wedding sites like The Knot & Weddingwire that need to be paid. Some of the best DJs have employed professional web designers that also need to be paid as well.  There are web hosting fees to be paid to keep the fancy websites up online and some might employ a digital marketing firm to help get them noticed even more.  It takes roughly 2 hours to create these blog posts that I so dearly love creating for my clients.  You can consider these blog posts as a form of marketing. An occasional magazine or Facebook ad and even Google advertising can be pretty expensive too.
Equipment: The best wedding DJs are going to purchase the best gear. When I load into a wedding venue, I am bringing in at least $12,000 of equipment. While it's fully insured against theft and damage, I take very good care of my equipment, and truth be told, it's not lent to anyone. For instance, when the warranty runs out on some of my gear, I like to order new stuff and swap it out with brand new gear so I know my clients are getting the best sound ever. 
Music is a huge expense. It costs money to remain current and "legal" when it comes to acquiring new music. Mike Bills Entertainment has a professional and licensed music subscription.  Brand new music is acquired by me on a weekly basis so that my company is always up on the latest breaking music.
Taxes & Insurance & Association Dues
Yeah, Uncle Sam has to get paid too, as well as insurance policies needs to be paid, as well as any other business expenses which include networking associations and DJ industry associations.

So you can see that the level of expenses that are required to operate at the professional level are not at all minimal. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and expenses for me to find you. And now that you have found me, congratulations on your engagement.  It is my hope that this blog post sheds a little light on the subject of Charleston wedding DJ prices and why some are higher, and why some are lower.  I am a professional wedding DJ who goes out of his way to make sure his clients have the absolute best musical soundtrack at their wedding. It is an overall experience with me. That experience includes getting to know my couple's so that they feel comfortable with me as their DJ, and that I can get an accurate view of their musical tastes. My reputation has been forged as one of the top wedding DJs in Charleston, and in order to maintain that reputation, it takes a lot of resources to find brides and grooms like you who really care about hiring the best wedding DJ for their wedding. If you are planning a wedding in 2018 or 2019 in Charleston and are ready to begin interviewing DJs, click HERE to tell me a little about your big day in Charleston.