Many Brides and Grooms are trying to save on costs at their wedding reception by arranging their own music – a DIY Wedding DJ. It can be done. But you will need to make sure you have quite a few things pre-prepared.
Get the right equipment
First, you’ll need to make sure you have a good PA system. Home ones just don’t cut it with this environment. It might be best to hire one. Remember that bodies absorb sound, so you will need it to be able to play louder than you first might think. You’ll also need dancefloor lighting and a cordless microphone for speeches and announcements. Again, best to hire this – they are way too expensive to buy. Someone will need to go to the venue early and set up this equipment (they will also need to take it down at the end of the night). Make sure you get them to do this EARLY. They will want to have plenty of time to test everything. Testing is important – you may find a faulty cable and you will want time to fix this. Also make sure you have a “backup plan”. If something does not work on the day, you’ll instantly want additional resources available for your DIY Wedding DJ. Once you have your set-up organised, check, check, check and then check again that you have the right cables and connections. And then make sure you have spares.
Next, it is best to have all of your music on a separate device to your phone. You may want to take photos or send messages during the night. It is also a much safer idea to have your music pre-downloaded. Using streaming services such as Spotify require a reliable internet connection. There would be nothing worse than to be half way through your First Dance and have the music cut due to buffering or an internet dropout (we all know what mobile reception can be like inside buildings). Ensure the device you are using is in “Aeroplane Mode” or has the internet switched off. Receiving a call, text or email will cut the music and play your ring tone instead. Don’t forget the power lead! It is also a good idea to have a second device available in case of failure.
Use a good software program. You want your music to be seamless. A DJ will overlap or even beatmix from one song into the next. Whilst it is virtually impossible for a software program to beatmix properly, they can at least fade from one song into the next. 3 or 4 seconds of silence between songs is more than enough to kill the vibe.
Prepared Playlists with lots of music
You will need to arrange a few playlists and also have certain songs planned and in separate folders. You’ll need – background music for guests arriving – your entrance song/songs – background music for dinner – cake cutting song – first dance song – father daughter dance song (if doing this) – garter & bouquet tossing songs – dancing playlist – farewell song. Make sure your playlists are longer than what you need. Would you rather a list of songs that didn’t get played, or accidently running out of music? If you are overlapping songs, they will take up less time than you first think. Also, run your playlist a couple of times beforehand. You will want to make sure it sounds right. This will also give you an indication of whether the playlist is long enough or needs more.
Analyze your music
What you may not realise is that the volume of each and every song is determined in the recording studio. This means that different songs have different volumes. In order to keep the volume levels consistent, you should listen to your playlist and pay close attention to volume. When you find those tracks that are too soft or too loud, you will have 3 choices. 1. Do nothing. Just hope the volume changes are not too uncomfortable. 2. Make sure your DIY Wedding DJ is aware of these songs and is ready to adjust the volume accordingly. Or 3. Run the songs through a production program to equalize the volume.
Look for quality files
Make sure your songs are of a high-quality file. The “Bitrate” is what you are looking for here. A low Bitrate means the data in the file has been compressed. A Bitrate will be displayed as a “Kilobits per second” or kbps. A low kbps file might not sound too bad through your phone, but as soon as you amplify it and increase the volume, the sound quality disappears pretty quickly. If you are using MP3 files, look for a Bitrate of at least 256. Be careful where you source your music too. Legal sites are the safest. Some times people will download a low Bitrate file and then try and convert it back to a high one. This does not work. When you compress the file, it simply removes data from the file. You can’t add that data back in.
Who’s in charge?
The best way to ensure everything runs smoothly with your DIY Wedding DJ, is to assign one of your guests to control the music. They will need to swap the songs over at the appropriate time and pause the music during speeches. They will also need to be ready to change the music order, and even song selections, if guests are not enjoying the music or not dancing. Make sure the person you choose has specific instructions from you and is reliable enough to follow them. You will also want to choose someone who will stay at the reception for the whole night. As an example, choosing someone with young children who will need to leave in order to put them to bed, is not a good idea. They also need to stay relatively sober. Oh, and this person can’t be “you”. You are going to be too busy with so many other things on the night – eg. it’s hard to start your cake cutting song when you are standing beside your cake.
Keep your DIY Wedding DJ hidden
Making sure the music device is hidden is extremely important! If other guests have access to it, they could also change the songs. Remember, not everybody likes the same music. Imagine you were on the dancefloor, with your hands in the air, screaming out your favourite song, only to find that one of your guests hates it. If they get to the device half way through the song and simply hit the “skip” button, it will create a memorable moment (just not for the right reasons). Then again, what if they decide to unplug your device to plug in their phone?
Plan your layout well
The next point is actually applicable to everyone – Be careful of your seating layout. Don’t put the Grandparents Table right in front of the sound system. They are much more likely to want the music turned down so they can talk. When the music is low enough for them, it won’t be able to be heard on the other side of the room. Take care where you position your dancefloor. Having it next to, or near the sound system and dancefloor lighting, will create a better atmosphere. Having the dancefloor in the middle of the room means your music will need to go over tables first. You’ll need to have it louder so you get the right levels on the dancefloor. If the dancefloor is in the middle, your lighting will either be ineffective or it will also need to be in the middle of the room creating an “eyesore” during the rest of the reception.
Heaps of music
You’ll want to make sure you have a huge variety of music available. You want all of your guests to enjoy themselves from young kids to your friends to parents to grandparents. Just remember that not everybody likes the same music. The person in charge will need to watch what is happening during the night and be ready to change the music as it Is needed (This is what a good DJ will do). Adding to this – You’ll need to pay particular attention to the order in which songs are played when it is dancing time. If you take the same 10 songs and play them in a different order, you will get a different result. The song list needs to “flow”. You are also likely to forget about a great song while creating your playlist. It’s always the way, your friend says to you “Do you remember that time we made up the dance in school to that song ________. Let’s do that dance now”. It’s at that moment you realise you have forgotten a great song. This is part of the reason to make sure you have way more than what you need.
What to consider if you use a DJ
If you do decide to scrap the DIY Wedding DJ and hire one instead, there are some important things to consider. There are 2 types of wedding DJ. First is the hobbyist. They are a solo operator that does it on the side, with their main job during the week. As it is not a full business, their overheads are much smaller and they will be cheaper to hire. But if they get offered a better deal that clashes with your function, they will often cancel in a heartbeat. It is also a 50/50 chance their equipment is likely to be a little more outdated and not up to standard. Professional businesses are likely to cost you a bit more but will not cancel on you. They will have updated equipment and back-up contingencies in place. They are much more likely to be better prepared also. A professional that performs at weddings regularly, will know what to expect and be ready for it. Often it is better to hire a DJ to take care of all of this for you. Once you hire the PA and Lights and work out how much time you need to spend preparing (and what your time is worth), a good DJ can actually work out cheaper than a DIY Wedding DJ.
Hiring a DJ that has nightclub experience often means they are going to be “technically better”. By this we mean they will be able to beatmix better, and do things like “sampling”. You just need to make sure they are versatile and will follow your instructions.
Handy tip – Ask your DJ if they have pubic liability insurance. If they are serious and genuine DJ’s, they will have this. It’s also nice to know you are protected.
We have DJ’d a party that was next door to a wedding that had a DIY Wedding DJ. Half way through the night, the security guards from the venue had to come into the party and remove all of the wedding guests that had snuck in. They weren’t prepared and didn’t have an adequate sound system.
Feel free to contact us for more advice on a DIY Wedding DJ, or if you might be thinking about using a DJ, you can get a quote here.
We wish you a happy and successful wedding!!!!