What can you expect a wedding DJ to cost in the Chicago area? If you’re at the early stages of planning your wedding, you may not have a clue. So, if you want the straight scoop on DJ pricing and types of DJ’s – here it is. A bridal survey said that before the wedding, the entertainment usually fell to the bottom of the budget priority list and was considered one of the smallest expenditures, yet after the wedding, most surveyed brides wish they had spent more and made entertainment one of their highest priorities.  The Banquet Hall, the Photographer, the Dress, the Videographer, Caterer and even the Limo Guy had topped the list before the DJ/Band entertainment!

Why do you think that happened? Please follow me here for the next 5 minutes to see...

Unless you have actually experienced mediocre or even disastrous wedding entertainment, many people make the mistake of thinking that it is “Just the Music”, or “All Entertainers are the same” and that a cheaper priced DJ is a better value for their money.  Again, this is a Big Mistake!

Here’s why... The following rates are for an average six-hour reception: including- (cocktail hour, dinner and dancing). *Keep in mind some couples get married at the reception hall too and that can be a longer package). Many DJ companies advertise prices for 3-4-hour packages, then tack on your cocktail or dinner times as an “upgrade” once they've got you in the door. Many DJ’s that only are hired for 3-4-hours and do not get dinner, do not do the introductions of the bridal party or you don’t have the use of the DJ’s mic for making toasts, etc. They may show up during dinner and be setting up while your guests are eating and may be obtrusive! Don’t let them confuse you. In the end, I do admit, I have an ulterior motive. I’d like you to hire my company, the Original Mr. DJ 

Entertainment is a talent-based service & each Disc Jockey entertainer will bring a different level of talent, quality of service, experience, and expertise to your wedding day.  On the one hand, I personally like a live band to play, so that you get that great interaction, but many bands cannot play the songs and sing them exactly like the original artists and they are more expensive normally too. Some entertainers DO an outstanding job at creating a fun, memorable, and worry-free celebration…unfortunately, the reality is that many DO NOT. Using price as a major consideration for hiring your entertainer will usually lead you to the latter. 

$300: The Buddy Rate
No Professional DJ can afford to work this cheap, (*keeping in mind he needs to maintain his equipment and pay for advertising and overhead), but you might get the offer from a friend or someone who DJ's “just for fun.” Equipment is consumer-grade (Radio Shack) rather than pro-grade, (toasts and speeches are difficult to hear; (bad microphone), dance music is loud and scratchy but makes your ears tired after an hour or two). No backup equipment (in case of failure) or backup DJ's (in case of illness). Music is either limited to your friend’s personal CD or IPod collection or illegally copied. Planning help will be minimal (your DJ works a day job, so do not expect to call for help or work out requests in advance). Emcee skills and cooperation with other vendors will be poor and lacking, (expect some hiccups in the schedule and moments where your guests don’t know what’s going on). Music skills and knowledge may vary. No professional website to advertise their services on. 

$400-$500: The “Scary Rate
Companies at this price point are volume businesses that survive by booking a huge number of jobs and paying their DJ’s very little. Staff turnover is high (you don’t know which DJ will show up at your wedding) and reliability is low (sometimes, no one shows up). Equipment is consumer-grade (Radio Shack) and out of date. No backup equipment or backup DJ's. Music is illegally copied. No planning help. DJ’s are poorly trained, so Emcee skills, music skills and vendor cooperation will all be poor. No professional website to advertise their services on. Expect a stressful evening. Sorry but, just got to tell you how it is. 

$600-$700: The Hobby Rate
These individuals are music and equipment lovers who love to DJ on the weekends to support their habit.  Their equipment is moderate. Backup equipment and DJs are rare. Song collection is limited to DJ’s personal collection – but that’s probably large. Legal music files. They do have some planning help, but minimal DJ availability (he works a day job). DJ is self-trained. Reliability, Emcee skills, music skills and vendor cooperation could all be terrible – or they could be great! No DJ assistant (he can’t afford one). Ask for references. Usually they get their work from word of mouth or some referrals, but No professional website to advertise their services on, other than the free listings that some bridal companies or party planning sites have extra space for. 

 $900-$1200: The Pro Rate 
These companies do events full-time and rely on their good reputation to keep food on the table. Their reliable and pro-grade equipment gets regular maintenance checks. Backup equipment for anything that could fail (hard drives, computers and wireless mics are the biggest culprits). They have legal music with unlimited song requests. DJ’s are trained. DJ assistant can mind the music while the main DJ takes requests or coordinates with your other vendors. Advance planning help including suggestions and experience to back it up. They will have Professional Emcee skills, music skills and vendor cooperation. They properly advertise their business via the internet web sites and bridal shows and other marketing methods. The Original Mr. DJ, (my company falls in this range). 

Now, in order to find the best fit for what you are looking for in a highly skilled entertainment professional, first realize that you need more than “just the music”!  For a smooth flow of events, skillful and timely announcements, an atmosphere filled with fun and unique memories with perfectly placed musical selections, there will be a much greater need than “just the music”…a considerable amount of time will be needed to pre-plan the day’s details, complete coordination with your other vendors is a must, and to act as an energetic, articulate Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) to fill an overall leadership role for your party will be vital. 

Since the entertainment you choose will have a profound and direct effect on the successful and memorable outcome of your wedding day celebration, it would be in your best interest to dig much deeper into the quality of service you receive, opposed to simply deciding based on price alone.

Research has proven that you need to consider that if you are paying less than $900 for your Disc Jockey, you are taking a chance on a Disc Jockey who is most likely not a truly skilled professional and may very well sell your reception to an even less qualified Disc Jockey that you will meet for the very first time at your reception or special event or a family member/friend that can screw the entire evening up royally! I personally have seen this happen more than once! 

​​*Keep in mind, there is a huge difference between a mobile DJ and a club DJ. Many people when trying to save money or just hiring a family member/friend will get a Club DJ that’s done block parties on the side. The Mobile DJ that does weddings and anniversary parties and reunions etc; already knows how to coordinate with the other venders and kitchen staff and will know how to evenly flow music for all your guests from the 10 yr. old up to the 80 yr. olds; with a vast variety of music genres. Unlike a Club DJ that is great at mixing music and keeping people on the dance floor without missing a beat of the music, however “you’re Grandparents” will not get into the hip hop groove.

But wait! There are 2 more Price groups you need to be aware of... 

​$1500-$2000: The Something Special Rate
This “High Performance” DJ company who offers something unusual or quirky in addition to planning, Emcee services and dance music. Perhaps he plays live music for part of the reception, perhaps he also sings and dances or plays music videos or offers video games or other “additional interactive” services. Services should be comparable to the “Hobby” or “Pro” rates above.

$3500 and up: The Celebrity Rate
These DJ’s have a lot of experience and have made a name for themselves. They have exceptional Emcee and coordination skills and highly customized introductions. These guys may have years of Improv-Drama classes under their belts and fancy websites with many DJ’s on staff. They get more work than they need and only take the weddings they really want. You pay them to charm the socks off of you and everyone you know. Imagine hiring Bill Clinton to speak and give a professional toast. Same thing here! 

Now you know the difference between Chicago-Suburbs Wedding DJ Prices, 
but what about
types of DJ’s?

Types of Wedding DJ's

Through my many years of experience, I have learned there are 3 types of Wedding DJ’s:

1.  Laid Back DJ

2.  Interactive & Intermediate DJ

3.  High performance DJ

laid back DJ will just read the introductions at a wedding in a monotone type voice and have no enthusiasm of the introduction or for even being there. Their attitude tends to rub off onto the crowd and it shows. People leave early without having fun. Music throughout the night is just played as the DJ tends to not want to talk on the mic.

An Interactive & Intimate DJ will start the party off just right. Introductions are set to the theme of the couple’s choice; the intros are set to choreographed and written to the chosen theme, with the bridal party included. Music throughout the night will be fun and continuous and in addition the DJ will get interactive with the crowd.

High Performance DJ will do the same as the Interactive DJ but in addition will also add their self performance flare to the evening. Not only is the music non-stop, but when the DJ gets interactive with the crowd, he-she tends to do self performances. *{Remember the DJ’s described above under the “Something Special or the Celebrity”?}They can be singing, lip-syncing, and or dancing. (Other Examples are the Blues Brother’s routine or a Dance routine by the DJ or singing themselves).​ 

Now, The Original Mr. DJ tends to stay the middle ground, but uses an “original flare”.

The Original Mr. DJ believes being interactive is way much more fun than a laid back boring DJ, but can be laid back if instructed too! The Original Mr. DJ will NOT go as extreme as the “High Performance DJ”, because we feel that: although some performances are great to see, who really wants to see a performance of a DJ acting-singing-dancing with costume changes?

Instead, The Original Mr. DJ tends to get totally interactive by involving your guests in self interactive dance or acts or suggestions throughout a segment of the evening. How much more fun can one have than to see their friend, spouse or family member get up to do something totally outrageous, but: keeping it family oriented? But, waitThe Original Mr. DJ will not go to your guest to get them up to do something, but instead get “you” the Bride and Groom or Host of the wedding/party event to get up to get them. 

The Original Mr. DJ is non obtrusive and works with the clients at any type of party. 

The Original Mr. DJ will:

Be courteous and respectful
Tell you the Truth
Return your phone calls in a timely manner
Be fair and competitive in our pricing
Listen to your needs
Setup early for the event and Not charge you for setting up
Dress appropriately for the event. (Tuxedo for formal events).
Assist in any way to make your event successful
Work along with the banquet hall and/or caterer to make sure things run smoothly
Do our very best for you
Be as INTERACTIVE & get your guests involved as can be, or be as LAID BACK as you Wish!
We won’t steal the show from the bride/groom and/or the host. It’s your special day
We also offer Event Planning Services as well.

That’s the Original Mr. DJ Promise!                                           

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How much is a Professional Disc Jockey's service really worth?

*This maybe a short read, but well worth 5 mins of your time, but let's talk about DJ pricing in Chicago

(Source: IBPA, ADAJ, NAME and the Original Mr. DJ)

The Original Mr. DJ Truth about Chicago-Suburbs Wedding DJ Pricing and Types of DJ’s for Weddings