UK DJ vs American DJWe do things differently
You may have noticed that there’s a fairly important wedding happening this coming weekend.
Firstly, may I wish all the very best to Harry and Meghan on their special day. Sorry I can’t be there, I’m going to be working for my own very special and equally important bride and groom.
However, the media has recently been reporting on the differences between American and English weddings (and there are many), not least of all the way in which the DJ or wedding host works.
I talk with fellow DJs right across the globe. I’ve even worked at American style weddings here in the UK.
But how is what we all do different?
The amount of time spent working at the actual wedding
All specialist wedding DJs will admit that a wedding is one of the most complicated events to plan for, and it takes many hours of discussions with the bride and groom, music planning and equipment planning to do the job right. When you see us on the day, it’s only the tip of the iceberg as to the number of hours that actually go into providing the entertainment for the big day.
On the day though….our colleagues in the USA do much fewer hours. American weddings don’t usually last as long as they do here in the UK with the average wedding being around 4-6 hours from start to finish….that includes the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and time for dancing! Here in the UK it’s not unusual for the ceremony to be at midday and the evening party ending at midnight (or later).
The amount of equipment used
Many American weddings happen during the day…..lighting is rarely required (although some of our US colleagues are starting to build light shows which look like those you’d expect to see here in the UK). Most of the American wedding hosts I speak with dress a table with a lycra cover onto which their mixing desk is placed, and have a couple of speakers. Some of them use a facade to hide the mixing console and may light this up….but that’s pretty much it. They certainly don’t travel with the vast numbers of lighting fixtures that we in the UK do….let alone spend countless hours programming them to create the perfect atmosphere for the first dance.
The services provided
Our cousins over the pond actually provide a very similar service to us here in the UK, from ceremony right through to the party at the end of the day. However…on what we call an “all-day” service (which is typically around 8-12 hours on-site excluding setup, teardown and travelling), their timeline from start to finish is between 4-6 hours….around half the time! Most American wedding DJs will provide the ceremony, the speeches, the Master of Ceremonies services and everything else you’d expect from a wedding host…just in half the time!
This is the REALLY big difference….and you’ll need to sit down for this one!
The average UK wedding DJ will charge between £400 – £600 for the evening reception, £700 – £900 for the wedding breakfast and evening reception or around £900 – £1200 for the entire day…and we’re forever fighting with the “bedroom DJs” that are happy to undercut these prices for beer money. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it?
The average American wedding DJ will charge around double that amount in Dollars!
The “averages” in the USA are:
* All day (well…half a day over here in the UK but includes the ceremony right through to the end of the wedding reception): Around $3000 – $4000 (that’s £2000 – £3000)
* Part day (that’s just the wedding breakfast and dancing bit): Around $2000 – $3000 (that’s £1000 – £2000)
* Evening only (that’s just the dancing bit at the end of the day): Around $1500 (that’s roughly £800 just for what we call the evening disco!)
So we’re not that different after all
Or are we?
I’d love to be able to charge what an American DJ does for the same service in half of the time!
Unfortunately though, the service we offer here in the UK is very much undervalued, mainly due to “anybody with a laptop and some cheap lighting” claiming to be a professional DJ (and then letting the happy couple down on the day…I had two emergency cover requests last weekend alone!), and the emergence of price comparison websites such as NeedADisco and AddToEvent….all of which are pitching DJs against each other to provide the lowest possible price no matter what the cost (and the cost is ultimately the quality of service provided for your most important party).
So, when you’re searching for YOUR wedding DJ, ask yourself one very important question. Is the price more important than the quality of the service provided?
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