How to DJ Your Own Wedding (2023)

As with just about everything else involved in a traditional wedding, professional DJs are expensive. That’s not to say it isn’t worth it– the entertainment can make or break your reception!

For example, a good DJ can read the flow of the party and choose the appropriate songs for the mood or get people on the dance floor. They can make announcements and come with their own light and smoke shows. However, I’ve heard so many horror stories about DJs that it seems to be that the $300 DJ considered “budget” might not even be worth that. Many couples decide to DIY DJ for many reasons:

  • A decent DJ could be a good 10% of the total wedding budget
  • They may not need anyone to make announcements
  • Perhaps the venue is small and a big DJ setup could overwhelm the space
  • They don’t listen to “Top 40” songs and would rather have total control over the playlist

There are a ton of reasons to hire a professional DJ, but if you simply can’t swing it for whatever reason, there are ways to pull it off yourself. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to pull this off!

Being Your Own Wedding DJ: A step-by-step guide to DJing your own wedding

Step one: Decide how you will play the music

First, what software/playlist app will you use? Choose the app from which to play the music. Apple Music and Spotify are both popular choices as they have unlimited streaming options for around $10/mo.

With these services, you essentially have access to pretty much any song you can think of. They are available on both your computer and phone. And the best part: you can make your playlists available offline!

You could also look into any Smartphone apps that you could use to make a playlist, like The Music Concierge. Choose whichever option works best for you!

Use Appropriate Equipment

Next, what sort of amplification system will you use to play the music? A good wedding DJ doesn’t only play music– they also set up their professional equipment, monitor the sound levels, and ensures that everyone can hear properly.

Look into places that rent out sound systems or consider buying one if you think you may re-use it. Alternatively, ask around your family and friends to see if anyone has the equipment you can borrow. (Surely someone knows somebody who is in a band, right?)

How to DJ Your Own Wedding (1)

Lastly, you’ll need to find someone willing to hit “play” for you on the day of the wedding. Select a point person to fill in as a stand-in wedding DJ.

Step two: Collect the music to create your playlist

Spend your engagement period by collecting songs you like that are “must plays” at your reception. Consider creating a few different playlists that you can add songs to whenever you hear something that sticks out.

Pro tip: Spotify has tons of pre-made playlists that are great for inspiration! They may help you to find some good songs you may not have otherwise thought of. The best thing about being your own wedding DJ is that you have full control– meaning you can include that quirky song that reminds you of your spouse-to-be that’s never hit the mainstream radio airwaves.

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.

(Video) How to DJ Your Own Wedding -

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.

Start with 4 major playlists and decide on the mood of each one:

  • Ceremony: songs without lyrics, potential processional songs.
    Example: Yo-Yo Ma Cello solos
  • Cocktail hour: upbeat, a little bit of dance, fun music.
    Example: Royals by Lorde
  • Dinner: Chill, music to eat, have conversations, and give toasts to.
    Example: Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips
  • Dancing: Dance music, of course! Have you ever been to a wedding that didn’t have any slow songs or any “let’s go re-fill our drinks” songs? You were probably on that dance floor all night! If you don’t want a marathon night of dancing, pepper in some “break” songs.
    Examples: Lots of Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, with a little Adele mixed in

Step three: Prune your playlist

After several months of adding music to the various playlists, you may find you have way too many songs! Now it’s time to prune your “dance” playlist down to 3ish hours in length.

Tips for pruning your playlist:

  • Set aside time for a playlist party with your partner
  • Create scorecards labeled 1, 2, and 3.
  • 1= ”meh” 2= ”ok, sure” and 3= ”YAS!”
  • Play each song to get the vibe, and then each of you rates the song.
  • Songs that get a total of 5 or 6 points go into the final playlist.
  • Any songs with a 2 or 3 get deleted.
  • Songs with a 4 can be left on the original playlist in case you need them as filler.

Hopefully, you’ll have the perfect amount of songs with your top-rated selections. This *should* result in playlists full of only songs you both love!

Knowing 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.

Step four: Arrange the music like a pro wedding dj

Once you’ve got all the songs you need, it’s time to put together the perfect wedding reception playlist. Besides collecting the music, this step has been the most time-consuming. We want to make sure each song flows nicely into the next.

Create Smooth Transitions

If you’re using a smartphone, iPod, or Computer, make sure your songs flow. There’s a simple way to cut down how much time there is in between songs, minimizing any awkward lag. (Don’t forget to use the “Crossfade” option so that there aren’t 5-10 second gaps of silence between all the songs!)

If you’re going to DJ your own wedding, you’ll want to assemble your playlist like a professional. What you’re looking for with the order is just a good flow. Playing three Michael Jackson songs in a row isn’t the best idea in terms of flow. You’ll also want to consider the flow between musical genres (especially important if you and your partner have different musical tastes!)

(Video) HOW TO USE SPOTIFY FOR YOUR WEDDING | 3 steps to a stress-free wedding | NO DJ NEEDED!

A good idea is to listen to your playlists in their entirety to see how the order feels and tweak as needed. Be careful to not have a song that ends in a busy way followed by a song that begins in a busy way because it will sound a bit messy on the crossfade.

Finalizing the details

Now that you’ve solidified your four playlists, you can pull out your specific songs for key wedding moments onto their own playlists. Placing these key wedding songs like your first dance, cake cutting, garter toss, etc onto their own playlist makes it easy for your DJ stand-in to know what’s next. Your DIY DJ will be able to walk over, double click on the next playlist, and get back to the party. Organizing everything to DJ your own wedding can be a time-consuming project, but also a fun one, and the cost-savings definitely pays off if you’re in a pinch.

Step 5: Getting Organized to DJ Your Own Wedding

Without a DJ, make sure that you’ve figured out other logistics. Some wedding DJs also act as the MC during dinner and set up music for your ceremony. Other professionals also include a lighting package in addition to the sound equipment in their fees. If you’re planning to DJ your own wedding, you’ll need to make sure all these bases are covered.

What will you do about lighting and sound amplification? Who will announce the bridal party during dinner? What about calling everyone’s attention when 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).

Read More

Choosing the Perfect Music for Key Wedding Moments

Setting Up to DJ Your Own Wedding

DJing your own wedding is about so much more than choosing the right music and creating the perfect playlist. You also have to have a reliable setup, equipment, and audio amplification. Check out these tips for setting up your wedding DJ station, speakers, and more.

On the big day, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need to successfully play your wedding music. Below is a list of all the info you need to successfully DJ your own wedding.

What You’ll Need to DJ Your Wedding

Surprisingly, you don’t need a ton of professional equipment to DJ a wedding, but don’t oversimplify this task either. Like with any other DIY project you take on for your wedding, being thoroughly prepared is key. You’ll want to make sure you have all the things you’ll need in order to successfully pull this off.

Important Tip for DJing Your Own Wedding!

Make sure your entire playlist is downloaded locally to your device. Avoid buffering, delays, and skips in your songs by taking care of this in advance. Don’t rely on wifi or cell service to stream your music for your wedding.

(Video) Can You DJ Your Own Wedding?

1. Proper Power Sources.

Survey your wedding reception location and check for power outlets. If you’re getting married at home, make sure you have any extension cords or power strips needed to power your audio setup. Planning your wedding at a venue? Check with your contact about typical placement for DJ equipment and what their power situation is like.

2. Your Audio Device.

Whether you opt for an iPod, a laptop, or some other form of digital music device, you’ll need something to house your playlist and plug into your sound amplification system to share the music with your party.

3. Good Amplification Equipment.

If you don’t own your own speaker system, you might want to consider purchasing or renting a professional-quality speaker. You’d be surprised at how much amplification you’ll actually need to allow your entire event to enjoy your music. If your guests can’t hear the music, how do you expect to get the dance party going? Make sure the speakers you have can produce enough value to get the dance floor hopping. Depending on the size of your event, you could probably get by with 2 speakers with or without stands, and possibly a subwoofer, if needed.

4. Cables, Mixer, Etc.

For the best setup, you will want to use a mixing console, and a cable to connect your music player to the mixer. The cable you’ll likely need is a mini-stereo to male dual RCA cable.

5. A Microphone.

If you’d like the ability to make announcements, give speeches, etc with proper volume to be heard by all of your guests, we’d also suggest a microphone. It can be wireless or wired, with a cable that hooks into the Mixer to be amplified by your speakers.

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

How are you going about your wedding reception music? Would you consider DJing your own wedding?

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(Video) How to DJ Your Own Wedding Using Your iPhone + Qusik DJ


Is it okay to DJ your own wedding? ›

It creates a pleasant vibe for your big day and keeps the party in a flow. The importance of a good DJ to lift the whole event can not be overstated. However, if you are budget conscious and not exactly into events for a large number of guests, then you can definitely try to be a DJ at your own wedding.

Can I play my own music at my wedding? ›

No Problem. 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. As with just about everything else involved in a traditional wedding, professional DJs are expensive.

What do I need to DJ a wedding? ›

All you really need is a DJ controller and a laptop running DJ software. You'll need DJ-specific programs and a controller (an external device that connects to a computer and gives you more tactile control) in order to use a laptop for wedding gigs.

How many songs should I give my DJ for wedding? ›

How Many Songs Should You Pick? A good rule of thumb is 15 songs per hour. A typical wedding reception will see about 3 hours of dancing after dinner and all the formalities are over. That is just 45 songs.

Is a DJ or band cheaper for a wedding? ›

Wedding DJs typically cost less than a live band, as they're only one or two people. Where you're getting married also has an impact on a DJ's price range.

Who traditionally pays for the DJ at a wedding? ›

  • The bride and her family pay for all professional services, including food and decorations.
  • The groom's family pays for the DJ or band and liquor.
Apr 1, 2022

Can I just use Spotify for my wedding? ›

Before we got married, I read SO MANY posts about how it's just easier to hire a DJ and not worry about ceremony music on an iPod.

Can you legally use Spotify to DJ? ›

So, is it legal to DJ with Spotify? Yes, you can DJ with music from Spotify without violating the law, however it violates Spotify's Terms of Service. If you are using Spotify to DJ now, you need an alternative streaming service quickly.

Can I DJ with Spotify? ›

Head to your Music Feed on Home in the Spotify mobile app on your iOS or Android device. Tap Play on the DJ card. Let Spotify do the rest!

How many hours does a DJ play at a wedding? ›

Obviously the amount of time for the DJing will be dependent on how coverage you've paid for. The normal, optimal length for a wedding reception is 4 hours (this includes the dinner portion). When you add in cocktail hour and the ceremony, there would be another 2 hours of music.

How much should I charge to DJ a wedding? ›

How much does a wedding DJ cost? The average cost of a wedding DJ is around $1,200, but this doesn't reflect the wide range of prices you're likely to see while planning your event. In reality, you'll see DJ companies charging anywhere from $600 up to $3,500.

Do wedding DJs bring their own equipment? ›

Absolutely! Usually all DJ's will have their equipment and would prefer to use it. If you are bringing a DJ from interstate, then typically they would opt to hire some equipment locally for them or yourselves to pick up upon arrival.

Can a wedding DJ play any song? ›

In order for a wedding DJ to legally play a song at a wedding, they must own the rights to play the song. This means the DJ must have purchased the song from a legal source such as Amazon, iTunes or a legal DJ music pool like Promo Only.

Do DJs get tips at weddings? ›

Expectations & Appreciation

Generally, the range for wedding DJ tips is 10-20% of the billed amount. If your DJ was professional, worked well with you and your planner, and did a truly fantastic job as an MC and DJ at your wedding, consider tipping closer to the 20% end of the range.

What makes a good wedding DJ? ›

A great wedding DJ acts like a professional in all manners. At your wedding, your DJ should be well-dressed and well-groomed, as well as relaxed and in control of any situation that may arise. He should not be drinking during your ceremony, or engaging in any type of inappropriate behavior with your guests.

How do DJs save money for weddings? ›

By only hiring your DJ during the reception, you are cutting down the timeline which of course, decreases the price. To save further, make a playlist/CD to play of your own at the ceremony and cocktail hour, leaving room for your DJ to pump up your reception!

When should a DJ set up for a wedding? ›

If you're booking a wedding band or DJ, you can expect them to offer a standard arrival time of around 5:30pm to 6:00pm, giving them plenty of time to be set up before your evening guests arrive.

Why are wedding DJs so expensive? ›

The equipment needed for a wedding DJ is another expense that's calculated into the overall cost. A basic wedding DJ setup can cost several thousand dollars. If a wedding changes locations from the ceremony to the reception, this requires extra equipment to make the transition, which also raises the cost.

Do you really need a wedding DJ? ›

With all those events on the timeline, you will definitely need a DJ that can maneuver the crowd. Aside from the music aspect of things, the wedding DJ hypes up the crowd and gets them energized and ready for your grand entrance.

Do wedding DJs have to pay royalties? ›

There are many music royalties that one can pay depending on how they intend to use the music in question. As a Dj, you must pay performance royalties for the music on my playlists. Performance royalties allow you to mix, store and play the musical assets of others in public events or gigs.

Do you have to list songs in wedding program? ›

Like the prelude, you can list the song title, composer and performer. These are optional; however, your formatting for the prelude and processional should match.

Where do DJs get their music? ›

Where DJs Get Their Music In 2023
  • Amazon – Yup, the ubiquitous Amazon is a great place to buy your music. ...
  • iTunes store – Of course Apple started all of this, and just like Amazon, its mainstream download store is still a “player”, offering the same wide selection and competitive prices.
Aug 15, 2022

Do a DJ have to get permission to play songs? ›

A public performance license grants DJs specific permission to play an artists' song (or use their beats) in public. In fact, it's not just DJs who need this license—a retail store would also need permission to play a song. A public performance license also guarantees that the artists you're playing receive royalties.

How do DJs get around copyright? ›

When the venue has the public-performance license, it means that DJs can play recorded music registered with the PRO, KJs are able to perform, background music is allowed, and bands can cover songs. Radio stations pretty much work the same way. The difference is the radio station's license is for broadcast.

Is there an app that automatically mixes songs? ›

Top 14 automated DJ mixing software of 2022:
  • Virtual DJ.
  • CuteDJ Mix.
  • Zulu DJ Software.
  • Mixxx.
  • Blaze Free DJ.
  • Serato DJ Intro.
  • Cross DJ.
  • You.DJ.

What software do DJ use? ›

What DJ software is the industry standard? Ableton Live, Virtual DJ, Rekordbox, Serato and Traktor all offer software solutions that cater for DJs ranging from beginners to professionals. However, the most commonly used DJ software is Serato, with over 100 million downloads.

Does DJ play music during dinner at wedding? ›

During Dinner Hour

As you and your guests are eating dinner, you can expect the DJ to play background music, but don't expect the music to be too loud because the DJ understands that guests will likely be talking to one another. If they were playing music too loudly, then people wouldn't be able to hear each other.

What does the average DJ make a night? ›

The average club DJ makes between $100-$200 per night. Pay can depend on the DJ's level of fame, club location, or club fame. Higher-end DJs make over 6-figures. Some club DJs can make six-figure sums!

How long should each song be for a wedding? ›

The average song is 3 minutes long. It can take 20 seconds for a couple to prepare and get from the entrance to their seats or the dance floor. As you increase the number of introductions, add on another song.

What is a good budget for a wedding? ›

The average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $28,000 (including the ceremony and reception), according to The Knot's 2021 Real Weddings Study.

How much should I charge per hour as a DJ? ›

How much Does It Cost For A DJ Per Hour? The average wedding DJ's cost per hour is around $150. However, a DJ may charge less if they are performing at an event that is not a wedding. Most DJs charge around $100 per hour for “non-wedding” events.

Does DJ come to rehearsal? ›

With more and more couples opting for additional audio support for their wedding ceremonies, it has become apparent that they be given the option to include DJs in the rehearsal.

Should a wedding have a band and a DJ? ›

Yes! Booking both a wedding band and DJ if it's an option is highly recommended. It's the best of both worlds. I find that a top DJ can complement a live wedding band perfectly and when done right, it can add real quality, big party atmosphere, and musical consistency to your wedding.

Is it rude not to tip wedding vendors? ›

And even though service charges may be spelled out in your contract, tipping—although not mandatory—is always appreciated for a job well done, not to mention a kind and thoughtful gesture. So don't forget to factor in tips when making your wedding budget.

What do DJs talk about before wedding? ›

35 important questions to ask a wedding DJ
  • Is the DJ available on the date you need them?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How many events/weddings have they provided music for per year?
  • Are weddings their main events or do they play at other events or clubs?
  • Do they have another event the same day or weekend?

Do you tip DJ if he owns company? ›

Owners are not tipped. Self-employed vendors or business owners are typically not given gratuity. Bands or DJs not booked through an entertainment agency are also not tipped.

Why a DJ is better than a band wedding? ›

[Wedding DJs] are a better option if you consider variety the spice of reception life. They can simply provide a much wider breadth of music genre options and can essentially play any song you request. Bands typically come prepared with a previously agreed upon set list—requests aren't always on the table.

How do you know if you are a good DJ? ›

Here are the 6 most important qualities you'll find in good DJs:
  • They have great equipment. ...
  • They have a passion for their work (music) ...
  • They know how to put on a performance. ...
  • They have strong people skills. ...
  • They are up to date with the latest songs and trends. ...
  • They're kind and professional.
Aug 8, 2022

How hard is it to DJ a wedding? ›

Becoming a successful wedding DJ takes time and dedication. You will have to learn many kinds of music genres, learn how to mix, and buy the necessary gear. You'll also need other skills for running your business, like promoting yourself and dealing with contracts. There is a lot of detail and advice to consider.

How many hours should a DJ play at a wedding? ›

Obviously the amount of time for the DJing will be dependent on how coverage you've paid for. The normal, optimal length for a wedding reception is 4 hours (this includes the dinner portion). When you add in cocktail hour and the ceremony, there would be another 2 hours of music.

How important is a DJ at a wedding? ›

A professional DJ does so much more than playing music. They make proper announcements, coordinate, and organize your wedding with you. They keep track of the timelines created and make sure that all the other vendors are ready for each specific formality such as the first dance and so on.

Can you have a band and a DJ at your wedding? ›

Music and entertainment play a large part in making your wedding day exciting for your guests. Plenty of couples choose to have both a live band and a DJ at their wedding.

How far in advance should you book a DJ for a wedding? ›

You're likely reading to find out when you should book your wedding DJ, so here it is; you should ideally book your wedding DJ approximately 9-12 months before your wedding date.

How many songs can a DJ play in 4 hours? ›

During a 4 hour reception, a DJ will probably play around 100-120 songs, depending on the type of reception event it is.

What are the disadvantages of DJ? ›

THE CONS: It can be detrimental to your health – You can spend countless hours breathing in dust bunnies while crate digging in some off-the-grid basement, damage your eyesight by staring at a computer screen until you are bloodshot & bleary eyed, or throw out your back lugging your gig bag across town and country.

What is better at a wedding band or DJ? ›

[Wedding DJs] are a better option if you consider variety the spice of reception life. They can simply provide a much wider breadth of music genre options and can essentially play any song you request. Bands typically come prepared with a previously agreed upon set list—requests aren't always on the table.

Can a wedding DJ use Spotify? ›

Before we got married, I read SO MANY posts about how it's just easier to hire a DJ and not worry about ceremony music on an iPod.

What is a DJ called at the wedding? ›

The master of ceremonies (also known as emcee) may be the most important role your wedding DJ plays. Think of your DJ as the host, cruise director, and point person for the evening, making announcements and ensuring that your guests are aware of what's going on and what's next.


1. Tips For DJing Your Own Wedding - Stuff To Think About
2. How To DJ Your Own Wedding - Charleston Wedding DJ
(EPIC Charleston)
3. How to DJ Your Own Wedding - - Home Page
(DIY Reception)
4. How To DJ Your Own Wedding, Would You? | Monday Night Live DJ Chat | #DJNTV
5. Should you use a Spotify playlist or a DJ for your wedding?
(MEC - Melbourne Entertainment Company)
6. How to DJ Your Own Wedding - Fire the DJ & play your own music - DIY on Apple iPad
(Qusik App)


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