Here's The Average Wedding DJ Cost Versus the Average Wedding Band Cost
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 found on The Knot Marketplace 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 nearly 12,000 couples as part of The Knot Real Weddings Study to find out the average price people dropped on their wedding reception music last year, and talked to expert wedding planners Keiana Hastings and Hailey Keyees of Simply Golden Events in Nashville about the band vs. DJ debate.
In this article:
- How Much Does a Wedding DJ Cost?
- How Much Does a Live Band For a Wedding Cost?
- So, Wedding Band or DJ? (Or Both)
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 $1,500.
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 $2,100), while couples in the South, Southeast, Southwest and Midwest spent around $1,000. Still, every DJ (and DJ company) is different and has different pricing—so it's best to check with them specifically.
How Has the Cost of Wedding DJs Changed Over the Years?
According to our data, this is a slight increase from past years—in 2021, the national average cost of a wedding DJ was $1,400. In the years 2016 through 2019, the average cost of a DJ was around $1,200. Costs have increased slightly in recent years due to high demand and shortages across many different areas of the wedding industry.
However, most couples deem having a wedding DJ a worthy expense, as 70% 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.
"Many DJs bring their own equipment so they have to be able to cover the cost of the equipment and the time it takes to curate music for each client's event," says Hastings. "Many DJs today offer much more than just music and emcee services, they offer photobooths, uplighting, sparklers, etc. All of which have costs associated with operations. The DJ is also critical when it comes to keeping things on schedule, making announcements, and keeping guests engaged. They are so much more than someone who is playing a playlist. A good wedding DJ knows how a wedding processional should flow, they know when to transition music, adjust volumes and how to avoid awkward pauses."
How Much Does a Live Band For a Wedding Cost?
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 our study, a live band at a wedding costs $3,900.
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. "Bands are typically more expensive for a few reasons, they have more overhead costs (band members, booking agents, equipment, etc.)," says Keyees. "You not only have to take into account the event time frame, but also the time to practice and learn specific songs that the couple may request. Many bands also have to employ sound techs and stage crew, which can add to the overall cost."
While the price tag may be higher than that for DJ services, couples still love to have live bands at their wedding. Per our data, 13% of couples who wed in 2021 had a live band play at their reception, though that does vary by region. Nearly 20% of couples who married in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic had a live band, while 9% of Midwestern couples hired live music for their reception.
How Has the Cost of Live Wedding Bands Changed Over the Years?
The average cost of a wedding band in 2022 saw a $400 decrease from 2021, but was more in line with pre-COVID wedding band costs (the average cost of a wedding band was $3,700 in 2019 and $3,900 in 2018).
A major pro of a wedding band is that you and your guests will get to enjoy live music all night long (and some offer musicians that can play during your ceremony as well!). 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 band vs. DJ debate 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.
"In our experience, you will get a more diverse music selection with a DJ," says Hastings. "They tend to be more flexible as they aren't working from a set list. They can typically play more songs and more diverse songs in the time frame. Bands tend to be more engaged with the crowd, and while they play fewer songs they are able to really work the crowd and feed off of their energy—and let's be real, who doesn't love live music. You'll have to really know your crowd to make sure they can vibe with the songs you select from the band."
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?