By now you have probably checked out the price of hiring a band or a DJ for your wedding and have decided that you don't have the budget for it or are wondering if it's worth the cost so have decided to look into how to DJ your own wedding. Professional DJ's usually cost between $500 and $1500 dollars for four plus hours. Every DJ has their own price and package. Live bands usually start out at $1000 and go up from there depending on how long you want them to perform. You may get lucky and know somebody that knows somebody and get a DJ or a Live Band for cheap but if not you are looking at spending a pretty penny for a couple hours of music that your guest may or may not dance to.
I personally don't think a DJ is worth the price you pay but I've always been a "Do It Yourself" kind of girl looking for ways to save money. I've been to several weddings that have had DJ's and quite a few of the DJ's have replayed songs or just played songs back to back with no mixing as if I was listening to my I-Pod. I have yet to go to a wedding that had a DJ that DJed like you were at a club getting everybody to dance; so if you do decide to hire a DJ I recommend trying to find someone that DJ's like you are at a club or a club DJ that does weddings part time.
What you will Need:
My husband and I were on a tight budget for our wedding so we decided to DJ our own wedding. To DJ your own wedding you will need:
- Stereo System
- I-Pod, Laptop or Both
- A person to monitor/announce when needed
We borrowed the Stereo System we used from our Best Man and we borrowed the Microphone from my mom's classroom. Ask around and see if anybody has a stereo system or a microphone you can borrow. Schools and Churches may let you borrow or rent their equipment, especially if you went there. If you do not know anybody that has a Stereo System and Microphone you can borrow you can rent one or you can look into buying your own Stereo System that will cost between $300 - $500. The stereo system we used had 5 speakers, both big and small.
- Make sure you have a back up device with all the playlists on it because we all know that technology can randomly decide to act up.
- DO NOT rely on an Internet connection to stream your music.
-Test out your playlist before the wedding guest arrive to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly and your microphone works.
- Have a person in charge of the equipment and in charge of announcing. This can be the same person. *see below
Make sure you have someone that is monitoring (keeping an eye on) the equipment to help prevent damage to the equipment and to help prevent guests from trying to control the music. There is always going to be somebody that doesn't like the music playing but hopefully they won't mess with the music.
My sister's boyfriend was in charge of controlling the ceremony music and my brother was in charge of controlling the reception, basically making sure to play our special songs when that event occurred and announcing the events that occurred. We had a guest sneak by him and set our playlist to shuffle, thus playing a song meant for clean-up that cursed. I heard it and ran over there to set the music back to how it was suppose to be. This guest also thought the music was to loud and tried to turn it down and skipped over all but one of the slow songs we had included in our playlist. We also had our guest play Thunderstruck so everybody could participate in a drinking game in the middle of the reception but my husband okayed it, who knows, he may of been the one that played it... Hopefully your guest will respect your equipment and playlist though and won't mess with it but just in case it's it a good idea to have someone monitoring it.
If you are worried about pleasing your guests you can do this by asking for music requests on your RSVPs or on your wedding website. This way they can request a song they would like to hear, thus making your guests happy.
Make sure you have a song for every special moment you plan on having at your wedding from the first dance to the cake cutting song to the bouquet tossing song. When preparing your wedding playlist it is easy to forget a special moment that may need a song because you have so much going on already so here is a list of all the special moments you need to pick out a song for:
1. Before Ceremony: playlist titled “Wedding-Before”. This playlist will play as your wedding guest arrive. The songs can be in order or set to shuffle. Our Playlist contained about 30 love songs.
2. Ceremony: playlist titled “Wedding-Ceremony”
- Prelude Songs - Groom, Preacher and seating of the parents/grandparents. I mixed two songs together for out prelude songs.
- Bridal Party Entrance Song
- Bride's Song
- Unity Song
- Exit Song
Optional: You can play music as your guests exit if you want. This can be the same playlists you used as they entered.
Reception: We allowed our guests to begin eating while we took pictures. We entered and went straight into our first dance. Followed by a Mother-Son and Bride-Brother's dance. We combined our dances but several people separate them. After we were done dancing we ate. Everybody does this different, some have cocktail hour, etc... so this next part will depend on what you choose to do at your wedding.
3. Eating: playlist titled “Wedding-Eating”, “Wedding-Dinner” or "Wedding-Cocktail Hour" . You can use the same playlist you used for when the guests arrived if you want. Our playlist contained love songs from different eras and genres; the majority of the playlist was country love songs. Our Eating Playlist had 60+ songs in it, enough for three hours but we only played about an hour of it.
4. Dancing: playlist titled “Wedding- Dance” in order. It is important to put this playlist in order. This helps prevent to many line dance or slow songs from playing back to back. It is also important because you will have to stop this playlist to do your special moment songs and come back to it so you don't want to replay songs. Remember what song you stop it on because that is where it needs to pick back up so you don’t repeat songs. I wrote out a thorough outline of what song to stop on and what song to start the music back on to avoid confusion. This also allowed us to stay on track as far as time goes.
The dance playlist needs to contain upbeat songs that you can dance to. You will also need to set this playlist to crossfade *see below. I recommend including songs from different eras since you will have guest of all ages, a few party favorites and line dances such as the electric slide and a few slow songs. Don't over do it with the line dances and slow songs. I think we had three or four line dances and five slow songs spread out throughout our playlist. Our Dance playlist had 90-100 songs in it. Our reception was four hours long and we had enough for six hours of music.
Special Moment Song List:
I placed these songs in order under the “Wedding-Ceremony” playlist but you can create another playlist if you would like.
- Wedding Party Entrance Song - Announce the Wedding Party
- First Dance Song
- Father-Daughter Dance Song
- Mother-Son Dance Song
- Cake Cutting Song
- Toast - you can have a song quietly playing in the background if you want. We paused the music for our toast
- Bouquet Toss Song
- Garter Toss Song
- Send Off Song
Once you have your playlist in order you need to set your playlist to crossfade. This setting basically does what the DJ would do by fading the end of the song to the beginning of another thus preventing a few second of silence between songs. This is very important because those few seconds of silence can completely kill the mood, clearing the dance floor. You have to apply crossfade to each specific playlist.
To do this on a Mac:
- Select your playlist
- In the top left of your computer click on iTunes
- Select Preferences
- Click on Playback
- Make sure Crossfade Songs is checked and move the arrow to when you would like the song to begin crossfading to the next. I set my crossfade to 6 seconds. You can also mess with your Sound Enhancer here if you want. I sent mine to medium.
- Hit OK
You will have to research how to set crossfade on your I-Pod or Laptop because every device is different.
- When creating playlist keep in mind your audience and your audience's age. You want to play a variety of songs from different eras.
- Make sure to play a handful of slow songs that way you can slow dance with your newly wed bride or groom, brother, best friend, or grandma but make sure not to over do the slow songs and bore your guests.
- Try to avoid inappropriate songs that contain curse words and sexual references. You don't want to offend your great grandma, preacher or teach the flower girl a new inappropriate word.
- Make sure you have extra songs in each playlist because you never now exactly how long each event (Before the Wedding, Diner, Dancing) will take.
- Spread some of the special moments out and start the dancing before the cake cutting, the toast, and the bouquet/garter toss. This will allow your guests to take a break from dancing and helped avoid all the special moments being back to back.
- The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is YOUR wedding so do and play what you want. As long as you are satisfied then your guests can get over it.
One of the main reasons to DJ your own wedding besides saving a ton of money is that you get to control what music is being played to avoid the cheesy songs, the overplayed songs, repeat songs, and inappropriate for Grandma songs. We lucked out and were able to DJ our wedding for free because we borrowed the equipment and had an iTunes gift card for the songs we needed to purchase but if not the cost for DJing your own wedding will be the rental fee for the equipment, the songs you decide to purchase, and the time spent creating your playlists. I recommend DJing your own wedding because it will save you between $500 and $1000. Plus I already laid out the playlist and list of special moments songs needed above and am working on creating a list of songs to choose from to make creating your wedding playlist easier and less time consuming because I know how busy you can be!