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Opinion from pro magicians

Oct 7, 2015
I have been a professional magician for about 5 years now, and am whole-heartedly against the wedding tax that many performers place on their performances.

What is your opinion on the wedding tax?


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
You mean charging more for a wedding than you would for any other gig?

Nope. A show has a value. That value doesn't change because the event is important to the people hiring the performer. Unless the performer is providing something extra special that they only do at weddings, it should be the same price as any other gig.

I may also be slightly bias since I got married last year and had to deal with "Wedding tax" on the paying end.


Elite Member
Nov 4, 2014
Orange County, Ca
I am on the fence. I can see both sides of the argument, however i personally do charge more at a wedding than a childs birthday party for example.... I know it sounds messed up, but they are already paying 1,500 for the photographer and dj and what not.... if i rolled up trying to charge 200 they would think i was not professional.

I understand though that it can seem kinda messed up to charge more just because it is a wedding. Same with trade shows. I would charge a different rate for trade shows than i would like a strolling gig.

Lyle Borders

vp of operations // theory11
Team member
Aug 5, 2008
Seattle, WA
My wife makes and decorates cakes. She will charge a LOT more for a wedding cake than she will for a birthday cake - even if (figuratively) the cakes were otherwise identical. Why? The wedding cake has to be PERFECT. Weddings are high stress events, and the clients are expecting an entirely different level of perfection than any other client. If you mess up something for a wedding? There are major consequences. If you mess up something for a birthday party? Most people laugh it off and you move on.

If you are putting the same amount of preparation into a birthday performance and a wedding performance, either you are severely underestimating the needed preparation for the wedding, or I admire how much work you are willing to put into a birthday party.

Trade shows would be, to a lesser extent, the same sort of thing. Charge more because the work, stress, and preparation are higher. Don't under-value your time.

// L


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
I admire how much work you are willing to put into a birthday party.

I'll take that as a compliment, thank you.

I think of it this way: If I am hired to do a show, I am trying to create a unique life experience for every person in the audience. The only difference between a wedding and a birthday party from that perspective is what the people are wearing.

As I said previously, a show has a value. If you feel the need to charge more because you're going to be preparing more for a wedding, perhaps one should raise their base price and learn to prepare that much for every gig?


forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
Louisville, OH
I've worked a few wedding receptions during cocktail hour(s) and during the reception after the dinner portion.
I charge a bit more because typically everything does not run right on schedule and there will be breaks where you are waiting on people to go through the food buffet or listening to the speeches and such. It's dead time that there isn't a whole lot you can do other than use the restroom, grab a fresh pack of cards, drink water, etc. Plus as it was already mentioned...the DJ and Photographer are making way over $1,000 so you should be at least $400 or more or they won't take you seriously. If you quote them $50-$100 they are going to "imagine" you walking around with a little silk and TT doing "kiddie" tricks.
Sep 2, 2007
Houston, TX
I charge what my show is worth, and it is worth more than $400.
I'm interested to know how you determined what your show is worth? A friend brought up a question last night at our jam - he is currently charging between $650 and $750 per 45 minute show. He says that he's noticed that almost every single client tips him $100-$200 OVER the initial price afterwards and so he's not sure if that means he should raise his prices or not. I certainly wasn't sure the right answer here so maybe you could provide your thoughts?
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Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
It's mildly surprising to me how complex the process actually is.

First step: Look at the entertainment that is available in your area, and compare it to what you offer. Be brutally honest here - and get other people's opinions, too. You need to figure out what people who offer what you offer are getting paid in that area, so you know the baseline. The reason you want outside opinions as well is that it's very hard to be objective. Also, don't get defensive if someone says you're not worth what you think you are, take what they say and examine it to decide on your own. Sometimes it takes and outside voice to point out why an act isn't worth what it thinks it is.

Second step: Determine the amount of money that you will be satisfied receiving in exchange for your show. This is the amount you -want- to receive, and the amount that would make you happy. It may or may not be the amount you are able to charge at this time.

Third step: Pick a price that is a good compromise between your goal price, and what is in that area. This may mean you're a bit below what's out there if you're new. You have to develop a reputation.

So! Using that system, I started out charging $300 a few years back. People tipped me, on top of that, so I upped the price. I don't get extra tips now, but people are happy to pay me what I charge.

I am at a point where my hour long show brings in money that makes me happy to do the show as well as deal with travel and schlepping gear back and forth. Now I am just focusing on building more of a reputation and finding more venues.
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Oct 19, 2015
I strongly believe in the 'Free Market'! What the market will what you should charge. If you ask for to much, you will not get the gig.....

The Market will set the price....
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