Almost everything about weddings is expensive, and if you don’t want to start married life in insurmountable debt, you’ll probably be looking for ways to lower the cost of your big day.
Often, one of the first things people organize for their wedding is the music, either a live band or a DJ, but the price of professional DJs can come as a shock – and live bands cost even more.
Furthermore, paying all that money doesn’t even guarantee a perfect event – as you can see from this video.
For these reasons, many people decide to DIY their music, a viable choice that can save you lots of cash, and for anyone considering it, here’s how to DJ your own wedding.
How to DJ Your Own Wedding
Step 1. Speak to the venue
If you’ve decided to go the DIY route, the first thing you need to do is speak to the venue.
Some places provide all the equipment you need and will be able to give you advice on setting up while others have some equipment but not everything. However, some venues don’t provide anything at all and you will be expected to bring the whole rig yourself.
At the very least, you will need to find out the dimensions of the room where the music is going to be played since this will determine the equipment you need to hire.
Step 2. Hire the equipment
Unless you happen to own some high-quality music equipment yourself – and I’m not talking about your home stereo system or a big Bluetooth speaker – you’ll need to hire the equipment for your wedding. Here’s a list of what you might need:
- Mixing console
- Smoke machine
- Projection screen and projector
- Karaoke machine
- Music playing device (e.g. iPod)
Once you know the dimensions of the room where the music will be played, you can go to a professional rental company to hire the equipment.
It is very easy to underestimate the power of the equipment you need for your venue – what might work well in a silent, empty room won’t be sufficient for a space full of noisy wedding guests.
However, the company you hire the equipment from should be able to advise you so you don’t end up underpowered when it comes to the amp and speakers.
You will need some kind of basic mixing console, even if this is just to allow you to use a microphone at certain points during proceedings – and you will need to hire a microphone if you don’t have one.
Then there the effects like lights, a smoke machine, a strobe and anything else you might need – remember, a dance floor without a minimum of lighting effects will feel like a sad place to be.
You might also want a few extras like a karaoke machine or a screen to project photos on – these are also items usually provided by a professional wedding DJ on request.
Finally, you will need a device that can play the music, although this can be something as simple as an iPod, and you probably won’t need to hire this.
Step 3. Organize your playlists
Having taken care of the technical aspects in advance, your thoughts should then turn to create the perfect soundtrack for your big day. However, don’t imagine that you can just plug in your iPod, hit shuffle and leave it – a lot more thought needs to go into it than that.
If you hire a professional wedding DJ, part of their job is choosing the appropriate music for the different parts of your wedding, but if you’re going DIY it, you will need to think about this yourself.
For some people, this is one of the advantages of DJing your own wedding because it gives you complete control over the music that gets played. However, it also means you will need to put a certain amount of thought into the music you select.
Remember that different stages of your wedding will require different types of music, so you won’t be able to just prepare one playlist for the whole day and leave it playing.
Think carefully about each part of the wedding and the kind of music that will be appropriate and put together a playlist that will match.
For example, if you want music while people are eating, you probably want something calm and relaxed – whereas when everyone has had a few to drink and the clock is approaching midnight, you might want tracks with a bit more energy.
So in sum, think about the different parts of the day and create separate playlists for each.
Make sure you have at least a couple of hours’ worth of music than you think you’ll need. Things tend to take longer than you expect, and running out of music will be a disaster.
Step 4. Test everything
Before the big day arrives, you need to do a soundcheck, preferably a day or two before.
Take all your equipment to the venue before your wedding day, set everything up and test it. It is not unheard of for hired equipment to be faulty, and if you don’t test it, you could find yourself facing static, feedback, low volume, blown speakers or many other similar issues.
You can avoid this by making sure everything works beforehand and replacing any faulty or unsuitable equipment in advance.
On the day itself, you probably won’t want to be thinking about the music equipment because you’ll be busy trying to take everything in and enjoying the moment.
However, if you can designate someone else to do a last-minute soundcheck in the morning before the guests arrive, this could also be a smart move.
This way, you will be able to relax, knowing that you’ve done everything you can to avoid a piece of equipment fail when the time comes to crank up the tunes.
Pros and cons
So now you know how to DIY DJ your own wedding but should you? Let’s think about the pros and cons.
- Save yourself a lot of cash
- Have complete control over the music
- Change the music yourself if the mood is not right
- Extra stress of having one more thing to think about
- Possibility of equipment failure
- Nobody on hand to fix technical issues if they occur
- Need to monitor the music situation during your big day
- Music you choose might not go down well
Here are a few extra tips that will help ensure everything goes as planned if you decide to DJ your own wedding.
If you have your wedding music running off an iPod, it’s inevitable that at some point, one of your wedding guests will attempt to hijack the music.
Maybe they will shuffle your carefully selected playlists – or maybe they will just pull out your iPod altogether and start playing music from their phone.
In any case, this kind of uninvited guest DJ is unwelcome, and you need to take steps to discourage your guests from taking these kinds of liberties with the music.
One way to deal with this is to involve your guests with choosing the music beforehand by asking them to submit requests for the playlist. This way, they will hopefully feel less of an urge to interfere with the music once the celebrations begin.
You can do this either through the invitations or using your wedding website.
You can also hide the music player or tape a note to it saying that the music has been carefully selected and requesting that they refrain from playing their own songs.
Consider all your guests
Another way to avoid music hijackers is to think of everyone’s tastes when you choose the playlist. Remember, it might be your wedding, but not everyone shares your taste in music, so try to select a good mix to ensure everyone has a good time.
Think about transitions
One problem with putting on a playlist on an iPod or similar is that there will be gaps between the songs. One part of a DJ’s job is blending and mixing tracks to avoid silences, keeping the energy up on the dancefloor, and if you don’t hire one, you’ll have to take care of this yourself.
The best way is to choose music-playing software that performs transitions automatically without leaving big gaps between tracks. iTunes can do this, but if you don’t want to use that, there are several dedicated wedding music apps to choose from.
Don’t rely on streaming
Avoid relying on streaming or cloud-based playlists. You never know when the internet might fail, and if it does, you will be left without music for your wedding. Use hard copies instead.
Have backup plans
Have backup plans for everything.
Make sure you have your music saved on two devices in case one fails, make sure you know somewhere that rents out musical equipment at short notice if the gear you’ve hired fails on the day – and in short, have a Plan B and a Plan C to cover all eventualities.
Plan, plan, plan
While there are certain risks and inconveniences associated with DJing your own wedding, if you do it right, you can ensure everyone has a great time while also saving yourself a lot of money.
It’s a perfectly feasible solution, and you might prefer a reception without a cheesy wedding DJ anyway. If you do, the key to making a success of it is simple: plan, plan, plan.