Last week, we explored the most important questions to ask before booking a professional wedding DJ. But what if a professional just isn’t in the cards?
This week we explore how to do it yourself.
You DJ your own wedding?
It might sound counterintuitive. After all, just last week you thought a turntable and a Lazy Susan were the same thing, and now you're thinking about handling the ones-and-twos for the biggest day of your life.
Scratching a DJ from your wedding day budget leaves wiggle room for the truly important things. Most professional wedding DJ's start at about $1,000, meaning you can save quite the chunk of change by hunkering down and doing it yourself.
But how can you do a job that someone charges $1,000 and up to do? And on the biggest day of your life, no less?
1. Rent the Equipment
Yes, you still have to rent equipment. It may seem easy to just plug a laptop or phone in via an auxiliary cord or bluetooth connection. Trust us, it's not going to be a great celebration if you do it this way.
Probably the most daunting (and expensive) step, finding the equipment suitable for your wedding day situation includes asking yourself a few very important questions:
How many guests will be at the wedding?
You don't want a speaker system set up for 100 guests when you have 200 at the event. Make sure everyone is able to enjoy the music with your speaker setup and your music selections (we'll get into those later).
Will the wedding take place indoors or outdoors?
Sometimes indoor weddings provide certain acoustics that help speaker systems sound louder than they actually are, but that's not the case for outdoor weddings. For instance, setting up your Google Home or Amazon Echo might sound fabulous in your home, but it might leave a little something to be desired in an outdoor setting.
Do you require a microphone?
The answer to this one should be yes 99 percent of the time. Even if you don't have an emcee for your event (see below), a microphone is the ultimate way to relay important messages to your guests, such as signaling the start of an important dance, or letting them know that you're about to cut the cake, or that the bar is closing in 10 minutes.
When considering a microphone, also make sure to specify if you prefer one with or without a wire. wireless mics are a great addition to most celebrations, allowing whoever is speaking to walk around as well. But sometimes radio signals can interfere with the wireless output, leading to some not so pleasant noise. When in doubt, reach out to your venue's management and ask how wireless microphones fare in their venue.
What kind of cables do I need to make my equipment work?
XLR? RCA? VGA? So many weird acronyms, so little time!
You don't want to set up all your equipment on the day of and find that you're missing one very important wire. Make sure to research your desired setup to learn exactly what you need to make it happen.
When in doubt, renting from tried and true audio experts still ends up costing less than hiring a DJ. An Austin-area company we recommend for any audio-related needs is Loudmouth Rentals.
2. Decide on your service of choice
Back in the day, we all kept our favorite songs on our computers or phones so we could bust them out whenever we felt like it.
But these days, most people find it easier and cheaper to keep their tunes on a cloud music service like Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music. These subscription services offer virtually any song you can think of and give you the ability to add the songs to custom playlists.
All three of the services mentioned also support what's called Crossfading, which means the service will try and transition your music so there's never any dead air -- a handy trick for killer parties.
All of these music services also allow you to save songs to your device for offline listening, something you should most definitely do. We'll explore why in a bit.
3. Curate with care
So you're all signed up with your music streaming service of choice. We get it; having every song imaginable at your fingertips can be a little much. Take a few minutes and enjoy that power.
Now it's time to start curating playlists for your big day. Remember, if you're doing it right, you should ideally afford yourself weeks to months to get your playlists just right. If your time is limited, just perform a search for "wedding" or anything close to it. You'll be surprised how many couples create public playlists and then just leave them for anyone to use.
There are two different variables worth considering while you create your playlist, and one extra tip to make sure your playlists are perfect.
Different parts of the day
It's a good idea to create playlists for the different parts of your wedding day. For example, maybe you want a relaxing classical playlist while your guests are being seated, but you'll probably want something very different come open dancing time.
If you have one already, use your order of ceremony to help identify the moments you want to have musical accompaniment.
It's your day, but you want your guests to have a good time, right? The easiest way to do that is to include music everyone will enjoy.
The best way to satisfy everyone is to incorporate music from different decades. Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue again. Most streaming services include lists of songs by decade, and wedding songs by decade are readily available with a quick Google search. Get the balance just right and you'll have grandparents dancing with cousins, uncles dancing with in-laws, neighbors dancing with mailmen (must be one heck of a wedding), and so on.
Get some pre-party feedback
Sit with people you trust and see what they think of your music selections. All of the music services mentioned here support playlist sharing. That means you can even get that precious feedback without having to leave your house.
4. Test, test, and test again
Whether you ask a professional musician, an amateur singer songwriter, or a keynote speaker, they'll all give you the same advice: Things break down. That's why testing your setup is the most important step we could possibly share with you.
Set a day to visit your venue and set up your equipment as if it's the real thing. Play some jams, make some announcements, and get an overall understanding of how it all works.
If something doesn't work, you'll have a chance to troubleshoot and be ready for the real thing.
This one sounds optional, but it couldn't be more important.
5. Consider using an emcee
Oftentimes, a professional wedding dJ doubles as an emcee, making announcements and introductions when necessary.
Since you'll be busy getting married and having an all-around awesome time, emceeing your own wedding might not be at the top of your priorities. Thankfully, emceeing is an easy job.
Remember that microphone and order of ceremony we mentioned earlier? Just provide both to a trusted friend or family member. Explain to them which events are the most important to you and when the announcements need to be made, as well as any extra information you want to share. Generally, the more you share, the more prepared your emcee will be.
And all that's left for you to do is dance, dance, and dance.
Bonus: download all of your songs to your device
How many of your movie nights have been ruined by buffering? Don't let buffering ruin your wedding, too.
Buffering occurs when an internet connection can't handle the data being used. This usually happens when you're watching videos, playing games, or streaming music.
Thankfully, most music streaming services offer an option to save playlists for "offline listening." Simply put, the playlists you select are downloaded directly to your device, so you can play all your music without being at the internet's mercy.
Are there any other tips you think future DIY wedding DJ's should know? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Instagram @eventsunleashed.
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Post Written by Des Delgadillo for Events Unleashed