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This Is How Much It Really Costs to Hire a Band or DJ for Your Wedding

Our experts outline the average cost and share their best budgeting tips.

Your wedding ceremony—that special time when you share your vows and officially become a married couple—is undoubtedly the most important part of the entire wedding day. That doesn't mean your reception isn't important, though: Once you've officially tied the knot, your family members and friends are ready to celebrate, and a key component to throwing a great party is providing entertainment that will keep guests dancing all night long. From background tunes during cocktail hour to your first dance as a married couple, the music played during your wedding reception helps define the tone of the party.

So, you know the music is important, but do you know how much money you should set aside in your budget for this key element of the wedding reception? Here, we asked three experts to share all the information you need to know about the cost associated with hiring either a wedding band or DJ.

Meet the Expert

  • Heather Lowenthal is the owner of Posh Parties, a full-service wedding planning company based in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Regina Brooks is the owner of Régine Danielle Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Kaitlin Ford is the owner of Pocketful of Plans, a wedding and event planning company based in California.

The Cost of a Wedding Band

A live wedding band will require a larger chunk of your wedding budget, but how much do you really need to allocate for this type of entertainment? According to Heather Lowenthal, the owner of Posh Parties based out of Palm Beach, Florida, the cost of hiring a wedding band for four hours (a typical amount of time) averages $25,000. She sees band costs range from $15,000 to $30,000 in her area of Palm Beach, Florida.

But, like most things associated with weddings, costs vary widely based on location. According to Regina Brooks, the owner of Régine Danielle Events, the average cost of hiring a live wedding band in Chicago is between $8,000 and $10,000. Kaitlin Ford, a wedding planner in California, says that most experienced bands in areas such as Monterey and Pebble Beach range from $10,000 to $20,000. Of course, these figures will depend on how many members are in the band, how many instruments, and how long you book the band to play. The time of year and day of the week can certainly impact these fees as well. For example, if you're having a Saturday wedding in September, the cost will be significantly higher than a weekday wedding in February.

A black-and-white images of a newlywed couple dancing in front of a live band.

Photo by Brian D. Smith Photography, Design by Tiana Crispino

The Cost of a Wedding DJ

Hiring a wedding DJ is typically a much more cost-effective option. Lowenthal says the average cost of hiring a wedding DJ in Florida is $5,500. According to Brooks, the average cost in Chicago is $1,000. As for California? Ford says the average cost for a DJ is $2,000 to $2,500. Keep in mind that these figures vary greatly depending on the area and availability of DJs, as well as the time of year and day of the week you’re hoping to book. But more often than not, you can count on lower costs when hiring DJs.

Wedding DJs performing at wedding receptions and dance parties.

Photo by The Foxes Photography / Photo by Chris and Ruth Photography / Design by Tiana Crispino

Budgeting Tips for Hiring Bands, DJs, and Musicians

Whether you plan to hire a full band, a few independent musicians, or a DJ, you'll need to make sure you plan for every dollar and cent. These practical tips that will help you stay on track.

Double-Check Hidden Costs

A great deal of work goes into a live band or DJ's set-up, so it’s important to have an open conversation about expectations ahead of time—this will ensure you understand the full picture and every cost. “There can be a lot of added ‘hidden’ costs to hiring a band," explains Ford. "For example, staging, lighting, and AV equipment, or DJ entertainment between sets,” she says. Asking about travel and accommodation costs and all equipment needs will help give you a clear idea of how much to budget. You'll want to align on all of these things before signing a contract.

Book Early

As with many major elements of wedding planning, the sooner you book a wedding band or DJ, the more options you’ll have. You may also see some cost savings by planning ahead, rather than waiting until just before your wedding day to find an option that’s available.

Consider Off-Peak Dates

If music is going to be one of your biggest costs, consider booking your wedding date in an off-peak season, or during a weekday. This will likely bring down the cost of a band, DJ, or individual musicians, as rates are often lower on less popular booking dates.

Book for Just One Part of the Event

If you envisioned having live music for the entirety of your wedding day, but realize you need to pull back your budget a little bit, think about hiring a live band or a DJ just for the dance portion of the evening. Alternatively, if you have a dance playlist prepped and ready for the dance party and you want to handle that part of the event yourself, you could have a band performing just during cocktail hour, or hire a vocalist or string quartet to perform during the ceremony, rather than for the entire wedding.

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