Wedding and event prep is a crucial part of what we do. That's also why weddings and corporate events are more expensive than just a regular party.
I've heard it said that as soon as you say 'wedding' it adds $1000, and while that's certainly inflated for many DJs, there's actually a lot that goes into what makes a successful wedding versus what makes for a great bar or club show or a great house party.
For starters, let's take a look at the amount of preparation we have to do for a 'regular' party.
Why do Stylus DJs Spend So Much Time Preparing?
While we certainly have spent years developing our skills, we're just going to look at what we HAVE to do in order to be ready for something like a birthday or dance party.
- Get all the Details correct & turn away other work for that day
- Stay on top of all the new music from every genre so that we can responsive to the event.
- Contact the client again in advance to confirm the details and identify any challenges or requests.
- Prepare music so we can be ready based on the client's requests, usually takes an hour or so depending on the event
- Check equipment and load up the vehicle with everything we need, including sound, mics and lights
- Drive to the Location
- Set Up & Test the Sound System in the (sometimes difficult) space
- Perform for several hours
- Remove & transport Equipment
That presumes there aren't a lot of special music, special cues, and that the DJ is essentially doing what the DJ naturally does best - throwing a great party that get's people dancing and having a great time. We're looking about 5 hours of 'not djing' time that goes into the prep for the event, including packing up, traveling, music prep, and client contact.
The second we're talking about a wedding, we're adding multiple meetings over months and years, hours more prep and scores of music cues (unintentional pun). A wedding isn't as simple as 'show up and play', and that's why it's more expensive.
Expect the DJ to put in around 20-25 hours of prep work in advance, including preparing all the specialty music, meetings, organizing the final details, communicating with the client and other vendors. In fact, if your regular Raleigh DJ party price is a nice round number like $500, then a wedding should cost something like $2500 since you're putting in 5 times the number of hours.
Think about it this way, your average ceremony is going to require a 2nd system, specialty microphones and additional equipment. It's more work than a 'show up and play' birthday party DJ, even though it's a 'shorter' event time, only an hour on average compared to a 3 or 4 hour birthday party.
Your wedding ceremony is going to have, on average, between 6 and 17 'cues', which are specific moments that need to have specific music accompanying them. The more cues, the more prep time. Ceremonies usually have specialty music which needs to be purchased, tested, and prepped for use during the event. Your average ceremony will take around 1 - 3 hours to prepare for, not including your wedding prelude music (the music that's playing when guests arrive, before the ceremony itself starts). Plus, setting up and dialing in microphones is HARD. That's why you can't just call Alice, I don't think she'd know.
Once you get the wedding reception, that's where it starts getting REALLY complicated for the wedding DJ, since clients have come to expect the wedding DJ to do more than just play music, the wedding DJ is also going to function as an emcee, event director, essentially the person yelling 'action!' on all the key moments, directing attention where it belongs, and then throwing a great party when the dancefloor opens.
The wedding reception you put together is going to be unique to you, but will most likely have between 25 and 80 'cues', although some will have even more. Let's assume that each 'cue' will take around 3 minutes to prepare for, which mean's that's up to 4 hours of music prep for your wedding DJ - JUST music prep, not including anything else, like learning everyone's names & pronunciations, developing your party playlist, testing mix ideas, or doing anything with equipment.
So, to be honest, if you're expecting a $500 wedding DJ to the same thing a $1500 or $2500 wedding DJ is going to do, you may find yourself wishing they'd spent a little more time preparing, because you only get one shot at doing this right - it's better to make a statement instead of a mistake. We recommend the best Raleigh Wedding DJs.
There's a little solace in the fact that weddings AREN'T the most expensive service most vendors offer - that would be Corporate events, and the biggest difference is that we're also working with bigger set-ups, mutliple rooms, and truncated set-up times, which require the mobilization of up to 20 or more staff members at any one time. Our biggest corporate events can be more than what you're spending on your wedding JUST for the AV, not including any of the food. So, when it comes to what you're looking at when you're looking at a Raleigh wedding DJ, just remember you're often paying not just for the playing time, you're also making sure that they've got the time they need to make sure your wedding goes the way you want it to, instead of anywhere else.
If you really had to put your finger on the key difference, it boils down to margin for error.
There's a little more margin for error on a birthday party with few, if any requests, because there's actually very little to 'get wrong' in that environment. We show up, we party, it's awesome! The margin of error allowed with a wedding is practically nil, because even the smallest mistake can have huge ramifications. It's even tigher with corporate events becuase you're doing so much more in multiple places simultaneously. That's why prep time is so important, and that's really where you're personally benefitting, even when you don't see what goes into it.
Finally - while lots of things about a wedding can be expensive, bear in mind that a big part of your budget is going to be identifying what's really important to you. Put your money where it matters TO YOU. If the party is important, spend a bigger chunk of your budget on the DJ, you'll be glad you did.