DJ Your Own Wedding and Save!
Make a Few Wedding Playlists
Playlists are easy to make on iTunes, Windows Media Player, Spotify, or whichever player you use. Create a list of the songs you want to hear during your wedding or event and label it for whichever moment you’ll play it, such as Cocktail Hour, Prelude, Dinner, Dance, etc. Be sure to create the list for a little longer than your planned time, to allow for wiggle room.
For example, if you plan for an hour cocktail hour, make this list for an hour and 15 or 20 minutes, just in case it takes a little longer than you anticipated, to take pictures. Do this for any time of the night, since most often, your evening will not go exactly as planned. Always allow a 15-minute window. Sometimes people may eat slower, speeches may last longer, more people may arrive than you planned for, which causes dinner to the last longer, etc.
Now that you’ve made your playlist, decide how you want to play it. You can use a laptop or a tablet. Next, you’ll just need a way to hear it and hook it up.
Rent a PA System
Making a playlist is the easy part. Now, you’ll need a way for it to be heard, in order to DJ your own wedding. If you want to save money, find someone to bring a small PA setup, or rent one. Find a music store or gear rental store in your area. For Austin area events, many people use Rock N Roll Rentals.
Once you have found a store to rent from, visit them and tell that what your needs are. Tell them where the wedding is and how many systems you may need (you may need one for the ceremony and one for the reception/dance). You’ll also need to know the size of the venue and how many people are attending. This will help them determine what type of sound system you’ll need.
Once they have all this information, they’ll be able to tell you what you need to rent. The good thing is, now, rental places are offering on-site setup/breakdown! This means less hassle for you!
Cords You’ll Need
If you have someone who may already have a portable speaker or PA system, you’ll need to get the correct wires to hook up your laptop, or even phone/tablet to your powered speaker. You can easily order a 3.5 mm to 1/4″ cable, or 3.5 mm to XLR cable. Find out what the inputs are on the speaker. You’ll plug in the smaller aux cord (3.5 mm) to the tablet or laptop and the XLR side (or 1/4″) to the speaker.
Here’s a link to the cord you can use, on Amazon: 3.5 mm to XLR
Once it’s hooked up, simply power on the speaker, adjust the volume, and you’re good to go! Keep in mind, prelude, cocktail hour, or dinner music doesn’t need to be super loud, so you won’t need to rent a huge, super loudspeaker. Any 200 watts (or more) speakers should work, depending on the size of the area where you’ll need music.
You’ll also need a handheld or lapel wireless microphone. You’ll need to connect that directly to the speaker (if there are 2 inputs). If there is only one input, you’ll also need a live PA mixer, like this Yamaha 10 Channel Mixer that we use.
It can be any brand, but it needs to have a few inputs (to plug in the mic and music). You’ll plug in your speaker cable to the “XLR out” (top right outputs with the prongs). You can plug in your music into the channels on top, labeled 1-4 (XLR & 1/4″ inputs). Here’s a picture. You can adjust the volume and EQ, as well. If you’re renting this, just ask the rental staff on how to use this.
DJ Your Own Wedding Reception
In order to DJ your own wedding reception, you may need to get a larger sound system, depending on where the dance is happening, how large the hall is, if it’s indoors or outdoors, etc. If it’s outdoors, be sure to ask about sound ordinances. Many cities and counties require outdoor sound to be off by 10 or 11 pm. Once you know all the details, you can get an adequate sound system. We’d recommend good, high-end powered speakers, such as Yamaha, or QSC speakers. (We use these).
It will certainly sound better with a subwoofer, but it’s not 100% necessary if you’re trying to save money. Some speakers will let you directly plug in an aux cord, but most will use an XLR or 1/4″ cord input. You can use the same wire from the ceremony system. Just be sure to link your two speakers together, with a longer XLR cable.
They have this 25-foot XLR cable for $10 on Amazon! Just link one speaker to the other, using the “link” input, or sometimes, it’s called “thru.” You’ll want to link from the speaker that you have your music plugged into. Here’s the photo below, of where you input the music (top input) and where you link to the other speaker (bottom). You’ll have to enlarge the picture, or just search “Yamaha DXR 15” and you can see better photos.
Other Things You’ll Need to DJ Your Own Wedding
You will also need a microphone, a wireless handheld microphone works best if you are going to do toasts or speeches during the reception. You can use the mixer we discussed earlier, to connect your music and microphone. You’ll need speaker stands to elevate the speakers higher, so the sound carries better. You’ll also need a power strip or surge protector, to plug everything in. You may need an extension cord, too, depending on where you want to set everything up.
You can also rent lighting if you’d like. It’s not a must, but it makes the dance floor more inviting. We know this is a lot of things, but this info is for DIY couples. We strongly recommend either having the rental staff set this up, or having someone you know to do this for you. It’s not a good idea for anyone who has never used this type of equipment before, to try it on the day they need it!
How You Save Money DJing Your Own Wedding
When you use your own playlist for prelude, cocktail hour, or dinner (or all 3), you eliminate the need for a DJ/band to play the music for you! Ironically, I’m telling you how to spend less on hiring a DJ. 🙂 We’re very open and honest with our clients and we want to give you great advice that is useful, too. Even if it means we may make less at your event.
So for DIY couples who want to “DJ your own wedding,” this is an easy way to save 2-3 hours of DJ or band time. This can mean hundreds of dollars saved! If you use your own playlist for the prelude, ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner moments, you’ll only need to hire the DJ for the dance portion of your event.
So if your event is 5.5 hours, and 2.5 hours is for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner, then you’ll only need the DJ for 3 hours, versus 5.5 hours! Some DJ companies have minimum booking time, so be sure to ask about this.
You can certainly rent the entire system and eliminate the DJ or band, altogether. This will save you much more, as well. You can rent an entire wedding package with everything you need, for about the cost of one hour! If your goal is to simply have your specific playlist playing, then this would be a great option.
If you DON’T want to worry about all the hassle, then hire a professional and leave the hard work to them! 🙂 Read our article How Much do Wedding DJs Cost article for more information about average DJ prices!
We hope you find this useful. If you decide to try to DJ your own wedding, let us know how it went! Feel free to email us and we’re always happy to help, even if you’re not our customer!
– Austin’s Best DJs Team
If you’re stuck trying to decide whether to book a DJ or band, read our Wedding DJ vs Band article