Whether you are very music opinionated and/or have eclectic taste, enjoy selecting music from your own collection, or simply lack the funds to hire a professional DJ, you are wondering, “how do I DJ my own wedding”? You may even wonder if it is a good idea at all. I will share some insight.
A professional DJ will advise you that they are best suited to the job. They are often correct. A good DJ (I’m not talking about a “bedroom DJ” who has no experience playing in front of diverse crowds and/or uses inferior equipment) will cost you anywhere from $400 for a couple of hours at a house party to $1,000 or more (sometimes much more depending on the add-ons) for a six hour wedding.
What a good DJ does to earn your money. They are professional crowd readers and have an extensive knowledge of the music that makes people dance. They are able to weave the Bride/Groom/and Guest requested songs into the best dance songs, at the right time, to deliver a memorable night. They also can use personality and a microphone to guide the events of the party. Considering that a wedding is the single most expensive party most people will ever throw, the money paid to a professional DJ should be considered “good party insurance”. If you can’t afford a pro however, you can DJ the party yourself!
But how do I DJ a party myself? Ok. You will need a few things:
- A plan (I will explain)
- Speakers and a microphone
- Lights (not required)
Weddings and parties have a flow that is set by the type of event it is. Here is a simple parties music plan: (not all items apply to all parties)
- Party hours – 8pm until midnight
- Theme or music type – “Disco Party”
- Guest arrival – 8pm arrival music softly in background
- Social warm up/cocktails – 8-9pm Lively non dance music
- Dinner – no dinner at this party
- Dancing – 9pm until midnight top disco hits
Weddings can be a bit more complex (or not if you combine elements). My tip here is to break the music into separate folders for each item. You will probably want to have a trusted person push “play” at the appropriate times. Here is a plan:
- Event hours – 6pm until 11pm
- Guest arrival – 6pm soft classical music
- Bridal walk – 6:30pm Pachelbel “Canon in D”
- Ceremony – 6:35 Music off – wireless mic to officiant
- Recessional – 7:00 American Authors “Best Day of My Life”
- Reception guest arrival/cocktails – 7:05 until 7:30 feel good non dance
- Bridal/Groom arrival – 7:30 Bruno Mars “Marry You”
- Bridal Party arrival – 7:32 Mark Ronson “Uptown Funk”
- Dinner 7:35-8:33
- Toasts – lower volume as appropriate
- Cake cutting – 8:33 Archies “Sugar Sugar”
- First Dance – 8:36 Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud”
- All other bridal party dances (Father/daughter, Mother/son, Anniversary, money, etc…) – 8:39 As appropriate
- Garter/Boquet – As appropriate
- Main dance – After bridal party dances/Garter and Boquet until 10:57pm
- Last Dance – 10:57pm Journey “Don’t Stop Believin'”
- Items above can come in any order as long as you are happy about the order
That was two plans to cover either a party or wedding. You can simplify the DJ work by just combining music elements for several elements of the event. Heck, you can even just use “volume control” as the mood setter.
For weddings, the bride and groom should come up with separate lists of the music they have enjoyed dancing to. They should include music they grew up with as well as music that is special to them. Ask parents or bridal party guests about their favorite music too. Discuss the lists with each other and decide on the music.
As the DJ your deciding what music you want to play during the plan elements. If you want to make it simple just play music that is nice to listen to but not necessarily dance music during the pre-dance phase (like a jazz CD) then play dance music during the dance party phase. Count on about 3 minutes per song in your planning (that is 20 songs per hour!) Try to consider the energy flow of the music when putting a list together.
You will need an auto-play music program like iTunes. Combine your lists into a sequential list and then listen to it together. Play it while working around the house. Does it make you happy? Want to dance? If not, change out the music that is not right and replace it with something that makes you happy and makes you dance!
Unless you are doing a party in your home for 20 people, do not use home stereo equipment! The noise generated by a wedding or other party with dancing will quickly drown out the home stereo leading to it being turned up to a point of horrible sound and speaker damage.
Professional DJ speakers have the power and overall volume to handle larger and noisier crowds. Local sound companies, like California Pro Sound And Light, carry rental speakers that will meet the need. Ask for advice about which system will be right for you.
While you are at it, rent a microphone! The microphone is used for greetings, toasts, and dedications and to guide the event. The microphone is very important. A simple cable attaches your source to the speakers. Costs can vary from about sixty dollars to several hundred depending on your needs. A typical speaker and microphone setup from CPS&L for a 120 person wedding runs about $120 and sounds amazing.
Lights are not required but are usually an inexpensive add-on to the speaker/microphone rental that adds “ambiance” to the room more on lighting here Whether you get uplighting to add colored pillars to the wall behind the bride/groom or you add dance lights, black lights or even a disco ball, they add sophistication to your event. Rental Event Light Packages
As you can see there is considerable work that goes in to producing a great event from the DJ perspective. I hope you can see however with a bit of planning and effort you can DJ your own wedding! Rental DJ Sound System