Every deejay is not a flake. But in the case of weddings, Rob Nuccio (owner of WedSure) has found that a deejay disappearing before the wedding and reception is unfortunately common. The main goal of a wedding is for two people to tie the knot and be joined forever, but it would be one very boring reception if there was no music involved.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, deejays make $27,750 per year ($13.34 per hour) so guesstimating the price of a wedding reception that starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m., that's $66.70 for one wedding. Forbes estimates the cost of an average wedding at $28,000, which is the average deejay's annual salary.
Of course some deejays may tweak their prices depending on the amount of people, add traveling expenses, etc. That hourly rate is the bare minimum and doesn't include requested services. WeddingDJPrices.org states that a "good" deejay can charge $800 to $2,000 for four hours of entertainment. If the deejay is well-known, his name alone may add a few extra hundred to the wedding costs. But the point is they're supposed to be there to entertain the crowd. And when they don't? The reception will be awfully quiet.
In a recent interview with Nuccio about Change of Heart wedding insurance, wedding planners, reserving wedding locations and weather-related wedding disasters, he had strong opinions on wedding entertainment.
Shamontiel: What is an example of a wedding insurance expense that isn't covered?
Nuccio: Loss of Deposits (wedding insurance) is for any vendor that takes your money and doesn't show up or takes your money and goes bankrupt. Say the deejay takes your $1,000 and he goes belly-up, if you purchase Loss of Deposit coverage...that coverage would pay that deposit back to you. Suppose the deejay doesn't show. Can you call a covered cancellation? No, because the deejays are so damn flaky. You wouldn't cancel your wedding because the deejay didn't show. You'd just get another deejay.
But here's the problem. In the middle of planning for everything in a wedding (from color scheme to the flower arrangement), who thinks to find a backup deejay should the current deejay not show up? That's one of the smaller expenses in an otherwise incredibly expensive day.
Maybe the maid of honor or the rest of the bridal party and groomsmen can decide on what songs should be played. Of course the bride and groom know what their "song" is. And if this is a family friendly event, the deejay must have music suitable for all age groups. (Rap and rock music may take a backseat depending on the lyrics.) But the music and who will decide to do '80s style twerking on the floor or the Casper Slide pales in comparison to the vendor expenses.
Before hiring a wedding deejay, make sure to ask the following questions:
- Is there a down payment and how much?
- When should all funds be received?
- What type of music will you play at the wedding?
- What kind of equipment will you be using? Are you a traditional deejay that uses records or one who opts for a CD player or electronic devices (mp3s, iPads, iPods)?
- Will you be able to stay at this wedding for the entire length of time before and after the guests leave?
- Will you need an assistant to help you with carrying in equipment? How much will that cost?
- Will your equipment all fit in ___ feet of space at the wedding reception area?
- Is there any reason whatsoever that you would not be able to make it to the wedding?
- If you cannot make it to the wedding due to an emergency, illness or late flight, what is your backup plan?
- Do you have a backup deejay who can handle the entertainment should you not make your flight?
- Is this backup deejay local and will the cost of reserving him or her be included in your current rates?
- Would you be willing to travel with our current wedding party so we can make sure you get there safely?
- Do you have reliable transportation that will be able to securely lock up your equipment when you're away from it?
- Will you have reliable transportation after the flight? If you need a car or van rental, will you be able to provide the exact travel rental expenses?
The last question is one of the most important. A deejay is a human being that needs personal days and sick days just like any other professional. But unlike most jobs, there may not be a team of other people to fill in for him should he not be able to make the flight.
Wedding cancellations happen for various reasons, and should a wedding party hire a deejay who will have to fly to another location for the big day, late or missed flights can also become an issue.
It may be a better idea to find a local deejay should the wedding be out of town, but if a wedding party specifically want a certain deejay for the wedding, that deejay (or the wedding party) is going to have to cover the cost of the flight, hotel fees, transportation fees and food expenses.
And if the deejay doesn't show, this isn't the type of event where one can go without a second deejay so if he doesn't have a backup, the wedding party should have one on call (and hopefully locally) who can show up at a moment's notice. But this may rack up more costs because if the backup deejay has to reserve this time to not take on another job, she'll want to be compensated as well.
While wedding insurance may cover the no-show deejays, it's a much better idea to have a Plan B entertainment plan.
In 2012, the median rates for deejays and announcers was $27,750 per year ($13.34 per hour), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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