wedding planner

Question: Who said you’re going to make a good living as a wedding vendor?

Interesting survey and results…

[The survey referred to found the 47.9% of wedding vendors make LESS THAN $25,000 per year, which is not a livable, full-time wage in most areas.  Get the full survey results here.]

However, I need to ask who told these people that being a wedding DJ was going to be full time employment?  Who said they were going to make a good living as a wedding DJ?  Would a new attorney who worked only two days a week get rich in his or her first 5 years in the business?

Why would people expect this kind of outcome in our profession?  I spent the first 11 years of my wedding DJ career doing mornings on three different radio stations in the Midwest. I also spent two years working the boards in comedy clubs all over the southeast.  I opened for Carrot Top and others…they could tell you how hard their early years were.

I have a friend who is firefighter and is also an outstanding DJ.  Another is a music instructor during the week and an amazing DJ on the weekends. Training, education and sales skills improve one’s value and marketability but it does not guarantee a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

There are guys who are multi-system operators who may be making the kind of money to live on.  The fact is that most guys and gals do something else because weddings don’t happen 7 days a week.

We are working in the most difficult financial period in my 25 year career. While we all want to make more money, we have to be realistic about our price points based on economic factors and price points in the market.

I can tell you from personal experience that while I am as busy as I have ever been, the size of the average event has gotten smaller. In the 90’s the events with 250 or 300 guest was the norm.  Now because of the above mentioned factors, we are seeing more events of 150 or less.

Just because we think we are worth more does not make us worth more.

You can make the greatest sales pitch in the world but some clients don’t have $1K or more to spend on a DJ.  This is no different for venues.  There are people that would love to get married in 5 or 6 places here in north Florida but they don’t have the money to do so.

I love what I do and feel like I am fairly compensated for my efforts.  I think it’s unfortunate that some people think because they chose this vocation or avocation that they deserve to make a great living at it.  I enjoy your work and admire your energy and effort.  I just thought you might appreciate hearing a little different perspective

– DJ Anonymous


DJ Anonymous,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.  I do appreciate your point of view.

When I say that people “deserve” to make a livable wage, I don’t mean it as an entitlement thing, as if they can just whine and cry, “I want it!  Why can’t I have it?” and expect Santa Claus to leave it under the tree.

I believe that if you WANT to make a full-time income from a job you love, you can and should find a way to do it.

It’s not a “right,” but it’s certainly a possibility I encourage.  What we do is encourage people to pursue their dreams and do everything in our power to make it a reality.

If you don’t want to make a full-time income with your DJ business, that’s perfectly okay.  However, I find that most of the time it’s the belief that it can’t be done that holds us back.

It can be done.

We did it as a single-op DJ “working two days a week.” Actually, it’s a lot more than two days of work with all the follow up, marketing, customer service, networking, preparation, etc.  A lot more.  In fact, it’s a full-time job.

You are correct: thinking we’re worth more doesn’t make us worth more.  It takes work, it takes excellence, it takes marketing mojo up the wazoo.  You have to not only be good, you have to communicate that fact to a world that really doesn’t care and certainly isn’t going to pay you more just because you ask them to.

We built our DJ business up to $120,000+ income working about 75 weddings per year.  Of course, we’re also in one of the most lucrative wedding areas of the country in NY.  But expenses are much higher here, too.

There’s a high end market in every area; it may be small in some regions.

It can be done if you know what to do and you take action on it.  It comes down to BELIEF.  Like Henry Ford said…

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you are usually right.”

Thanks for sharing,


P.S.  We were inspired by Mark Ferrell and his “Getting What You’re Worth” movement way back in 2001, back when we were newbies.   :)

What do you think about making a full-time living as a wedding professional?

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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6 thoughts on “The Truth About Making a Living as a Wedding Professional”

  1. You hit the center of the bullseye Stephanie, I am a full time DJ in the rural midwest in a city with a population of less than 60,000.The nearest city of any substantial size is over an hour away with their own wedding professionals working that market. Yet I’ve been a full time DJ since 2008, making a decent living and raising a family [the oldest of which is in college]. I’ve always believed that talent will only get you so far, that intelligence will only get you so far, but – as you put it – “work, excellence, [and] marketing mojo up the wazoo” is what really makes the difference.

    I’ll see you in Vegas next week. Will DJ Anonymous be there in an effort to take the next step?

    1. Thanks for reaffirming this, Michael. See you next week!

  2. The story told is a common one I hear in a number of countries especially my own Australia. I am a full time single operator DJ/MC in Australia and I make a very good living. Unfortunately most of the people I hear say it can not be done only say that because they don’t know how to do it. They see no value in performance training or business training and are deffinately stuck in the poverty mindset. I always recommend DJ’s listen to the gwyw seminar and go from there it changed so many lives.

    1. Andrew, thanks so much for sharing this! Mark was a huge inspiration for you. We need to believe it’s possible before we can attempt it. :)

  3. Dav Hughes says:

    Very interesting post.

    As a wedding photographer, I am still hopeful that the future is bright. Having said that, looking at Google Trends, there does seem to be a general decline in the wedding industry. So maybe making a living from it will get more and more difficult.



    1. It is bright! We just have a new set of realities to deal with. :)

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