Here's The Average Wedding DJ Cost Versus the Average Wedding Band Cost

Band or DJ? Maybe this will help decide.
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Feb 23, 2022

Odds are, you want your reception dance floor to be packed all night long. That's why it's important to hire top-notch entertainment. Even though a professional wedding DJ costs more than your brother making a Spotify playlist, and a live band at a wedding costs more than your aunt singing covers, the price is worth it. These wedding pros are experts at reading the room and keeping a great music flow so that your guests feel comfortable rocking out on the dance floor throughout the night.

But how much does a wedding DJ cost? And how much does a live band at a wedding cost? The answer isn't simple. Price depends on so many different factors, so it's best to consult any wedding vendors you're interested in personally to get their cost estimate. In the meantime, we surveyed over 15,000 couples as part of The Knot Real Weddings Study to find out the average price people dropped on their wedding reception music last year.

How Much Does a Wedding DJ Cost?

If you'd rather have a huge variety of genres, sounds and artists, a wedding DJ is the best choice for you. While the average wedding DJ cost does vary, the average amount couples spent in this category last year was $1,400.

According to our data, this is a slight increase from past years—in 2019, the national average cost of a wedding DJ was $1,200. Of course, the wedding DJ price you end up paying will depend on how long you book the DJ for (will the DJ play music during the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour?), the number of DJs, and amount of equipment required. Wedding DJs typically cost less than a live band, as they're only one or two people. Where you're getting married also has an impact on a DJ's price range. Mid-Atlantic couples spent the most on a DJ (about $2,000), while Southwestern couples spent the least (a little over $1,000). Still, every DJ (and DJ company) is different and has different pricing—so it's best to check with them specifically.

However, most couples deem it a worthy expense, as 67 percent reported hiring a professional wedding DJ last year. The popularity of the vendor is likely attributed to the range of music they offer during your reception. With a great DJ, you can rock out to your favorite '90s throwback, your current pop obsession, and your extra-special first dance song. Wedding DJs can also act as an emcee for the event, which can help to keep the energy up throughout the night (read: more people out on the dance floor). And some DJs can provide additional services, such as photo booths and uplighting.

How Much Does a Live Band For a Wedding Cost?

However, a live band provides guests with an extremely memorable experience on your wedding day. We recommend working with a professional live wedding band simply because they're expert musicians who have experience at weddings—which means they know how to work the room. But that expertise does come at a price. According to an internal study, a live band at a wedding costs $4,300—a $600 increase from 2019. This investment in live music is likely related to a renewed focus on guest experience. During the pandemic, packed dance floors were a no-go, so now that dance parties are possible, guests are going all out with their entertainment, even if it means a wedding budget splurge.

This price does vary a great amount, as it can depend on a multitude of factors such as number of band members, hours booked and equipment required. While the price tag may be higher than that for a DJ services, couples still love to have live bands at their wedding. Per our data, 13 percent of couples who wed in 2021 had a live band play at their reception, though that does vary by region. Nearly 20% couples who married in the Mid-Atlantic had a live band, while 10% of Midwestern couples hired live music for their reception.

A major pro of a wedding band is that you and your guests will get to enjoy live music all night long. While you may be limited artist-wise, live bands are extremely well-versed in different genres. They can create a set of upbeat dance songs and romantic slow songs so that you have the reception of your dreams. Plus, most wedding bands are willing to learn any special requests (like that song you and you S.O. were listening when you had your first kiss). Not only will they provide an unforgettable set, these talented musicians will also help keep the energy of the room up.

So, Wedding Band or DJ? (Or Both)

The decision is entirely up to you and your partner. If you're struggling with the choice during the wedding planning process, think about the songs you'd like to hear at your reception. If you absolutely need to hear Whitney Houston sing at your reception, then maybe a DJ is the way to go. But if you'd rather hear a special guitar solo live, then a wedding band might be your best choice. Either way, these wedding pros will ensure that your dance floor is packed all night long.

Of course, you don't have to choose between a DJ or a band. If you want both pros at your wedding reception, you can book both. Split the time between a band and a DJ for the ultimate wedding reception. Or, you can hire one vendor for your reception and the other for your after-party. Either way, you'll get all the excitement of live music plus all the variety a DJ offers. How's that for compromise?

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