How to Get by Without a DJ

Skipping a DJ at your wedding is one way that couples choose to save money. But before you plug in your iPod and set of speakers, see what you could be missing.

No Budget for a DJ? No Problem.


Photo Credit: Kelley Jordan Photography

Song Selection for Your Wedding Playlist

You may be tempted to pick songs that only you and your best friend know. Hey, it's your wedding. But you don't want to alienate people and cause them to leave the dance floor. Once those people leave, it's harder to get them back.

Music is a great way to set the tone for your event. Putting together multiple playlists (potentially, there could be different playlists for the processional, recessional, ceremony, introductions, dance floor, and more) can be a lot of work, but it also gives you complete control over the mood of each moment. It's a lot of work up front, but putting together your own customized playlist sets up a framework of how the evening will run–and saves you from the dreaded Chicken Dance!

Think of your wedding playlist as an outline, like you would put together for a presentation. Creating the outline can be a lot of work, but it helps your presentation go smoothly when it counts. Plan ahead, and you've got yourself the outline for an awesome day.

Know What Songs to Avoid

Typically, hardcore rap, heavy metal and country music can skew too far in a direction away from the mainstream (unless your audience is full of juggalos, in which case blaring Insane Clown Posse is a good move). There's a reason why genres like soul and R&B work so well. Everyone can dance to Marvin Gaye. That's a fact. Other safe picks include classic rock and Whitney Houston.

Some couples ask people to suggest songs on their invitation, which is an easy way to source crowd favorites. There are also lots of lists online about popular wedding songs that everyone will love.

If you're going to choose songs that people don't know, make sure they're danceable. I remember getting down to some indie songs with my parents. Not because they love to dance to anything, but because the beat worked for everyone. A friend of mine even commented that even when she didn't know the songs, she still felt like dancing to them.

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Create Smooth Transitions

If you're using your iPod, make sure your songs flow. There's a way to cut down how much time there is in between songs, minimizing any awkward lag. You might also want to put someone in charge of the device, so that no one tries to interrupt your set list with their own requests. Find a young cousin who wants to make a few dollars and ask him to keep an eye out.


Photo Credit: Kelley Jordan Photography

Keep the Dance Floor Full

Consider skipping slow songs entirely. The last thing you want at a wedding is for people to slow down. If you do want to include an anniversary dance or couples-only dance, do those at the beginning of the reception. That way, people will be able to boogie all night long.

Use Appropriate Equipment

The biggest issue with iPod-DJ weddings is the sound. A good DJ doesn't only play music. He sets up the equipment, monitors the levels and makes sure that everyone can hear. Some also act as the MC during dinner and set up music for your ceremony.

You should find a plan for sound and lights. Can you hire them separately? Do you have a friend with a band who will set them up for you as a wedding present? Source your friends and family – maybe your uncle's best friend runs a music store and will happily lend some quipment for your big day.

Getting Organized to DJ Your Own Wedding

Without a DJ, make sure that you've figured out other logistics. Who will announce the bridal party during dinner? Who will shepherd everyone once it's time for the first dance? Who will announce last call? It's one thing to rely on a friend, but choose someone reliable (and who won't be downing shots when he's supposed to be announcing the garter toss).

If you need more insight and advice, check out this wedding budget tip on being your own wedding DJ.

Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.Β 

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