Wednesday, May 19, 2010


One of our bigger decisions has been to forgo a DJ and do our own wedding playlist on either an iPod or a laptop. There have been lots of nay sayers who tell me Why Using an iPod to DJ Your Own Wedding is a Horrible Idea (um, biased much?) but then there is Meg at A Practical Wedding who describes their self DJ experience and gives some great advice (I feel redundant for how often APW and the word "great" appear together).

I've been doing research and have some serious doubts about whether doing our own music is a good idea or not. Yet at the same time I don't really feel like adding another budget item to our list. So here is a pro/con list I've come up with of the biggest factors. Please feel free to weight in.

Pro Doing Our Own Music
  • Free! Yeah, we are going to buy some songs and that does cost money, but most of it we have already. Plus, buying more awesome music doesn't sound that bad!
  • No worries about a crazy DJ. Yeah, some are great, but some are nutso! And how do you know unless you have a good referral?
Cons of Doing Our Own Music
  • Without someone to really watch the music, we lose the ability to adjust the music for what the guests are diggin and dancing to.
  • The sound system at our venue. Its only one volume for the entire room. And when I'm dancing I want music pounding! So either music is pretty quiet or people can't talk on the seating side of the room. :(
So on one side I'm cheap and don't want to spend more money on a DJ. This wedding budget is a monster and keeps growing and growing. All these unexpected costs are coming up and are always more than I expect. I do have an old friend who is willing to do it for a reduced rate if he is still available. Reduced from 1000 to 600, so yeah, a good deal but still a lot of cash! On the other side, the music/dancing are the entertainment for the night and I'd like to do it right.

How do we manage the playlist without having to work our wedding? There isn't an obvious musical person to ask. My brother would be great for the role but he is hesitant and doesn't want to 'work all night' - which I don't want either! And what do you think about the sound levels? Does it really matter?

What are you doing for your wedding? Advice for DJing your own? Opinions on which works better?

Image from Hans Woltering


  1. if you decide to go the IPOD route, then i got some tunes that could get you started! ;)


  2. Ha, yes I feel I'm being redundant too when I say APW & great together.

    So my viewpoint on this is I've never been to a party where I thought, wow, that party would've totally sucked if it weren't for the DJ! Actually most of the time it's the opposite, the best a DJ has ever been is 'not cheesy and horrible.' So in my mind the money spent on a DJ doesn't get you all that much and I also don't think that you need a DJ for the entertainment to be done right, in that everyone has a good time and awkwardness is avoided.

    Sound levels: I think you can adjust the volume of songs in iTunes so that if you're hooking up your laptop or just plugging in an iPod, you should be able to have songs at different volumes even if the overall sound system doesn't have controls.

    Working the wedding: I get what you're saying here, that the music will need monitoring throughout the night, but I don't think you need one person devoted it to the entire time. You could have your brother and maybe another friend take turns being responsible for keeping an eye on the music, and all that it would really need is potential minor adjustments to the playlist you've put together beforehand. You've probably seen most of these links but I collected some more info on DIY music in this blog post:

    On the other hand if you decide this is worth it enough to you to throw money at the problem (not a bad thing, really, as long as you're prioritizing against other choices appropriately), maybe you can ask your brother for recommendations of other friends of his, put a craigslist ad, etc. Good luck!

  3. @ hifi wedding - thanks! I'll definitely check it out!

    @ KWu - I should specify that the volumn issue is that music for dancing (loud!) will drown out any conversation since the speakers in the room are hanging and will blast everywhere - not just the dance floor.

    And I think I will ask my brother for friends - that's a good idea! I'm sure many of his friends would be happy with a few bottles as payment :)

  4. @Jen: Definitely check out hifiwedding's playlists, they are fantastical.

    We're dealing with similar things for ours...obviously we want a rockin band but it's a)expensive, b)expensive and c)expensive.

    I vote for iPod, but that's just me, carefully put together your playlist accounting for "okay, after this rockin dance song, people will want to either slow down or sit down for a minute..."

    I will be checkin up on your decision, lady, can't wait.

  5. I am the worst person to answer... BUT. We were dead set on self-DJ'ing. We knew we had to get the sound system and have someone monitor it, but 1. our wedding is outside and we have no idea how to properly set up audio for that large of space and 2. Like you we didn't want someone to be on-call the entire reception for music duties. We really like the idea of adding more music to our collection and just the mere fact that we can be proud of completely a task so large.If we were going to continue to self-DJ, I would have hired a student from my former place of work to set up and monitor it. Maybe you can seek out some young folk from an A/V dept at a high school or a college to set up and work the sound system for a small fee?

    Now this is why I'm the worst person to answer... a friend of ours won a DJ service at some event she went to. The DJ also happens to be a former co-worker of mine who spins for student events at the college I used to work at. So our friend gave us her free DJ- equipment, services and all. So we're going with that. I told Mr. DJ, no introductions, no silly comments, just play music, eat our barbecue and have a beer. He said ok. I'm a little stressed because I've never heard him before, but the fact that someone will be monitoring the music the entire time and it will be someone else's worry is such a plus.

    Those are the pros and cons to our situation. Probably not the most helpful.... nuts.

    Haha, I was going to say sorry for the super long, but I see KWu already broke the ice!

  6. @ Lizzie hells to the yes on expensive. thanks for the vote! I'll keep everyone posted and share our playlist - regardless of what we choose - cuz we already have decent set going.

    @ Angie lol! yeah, way to have awesome friendors and connections! I'm going to look into the option of finding a non professional person to help out for cheap (or for booze) and see how that goes. I'm going to put out my good wedding vibes and hope the wedding gods reward me!