Wedding Music Throwdown. Wedding DJ Vs DIY Wedding Playlist?


wedding dj
photo credit: Drew "Rukes" Ressler via photopin cc
wedding dj
photo credit: Drew “Rukes” Ressler via photopin cc

Wedding reception music: to DIY or not to DIY? Before we delve into the pros and cons of each, let’s note that your wedding doesn’t have to feature a dance floor. Plenty of excellent parties don’t have dancing, and a wedding reception is a party! It can be just as fun and fabulous without dancing.

If you do want dancing at your reception, there’s three ways to make this happen: create a playlist on your iPod or MP3 player, hire a DJ, or hire a band. We’re not going to talk bands, because, well, they’re a whole other thing. So let’s discuss DIYing your wedding reception music vs. going the professional wedding DJ route.

Wedding DJ or iPod?

Trying to decide between creating a wedding playlist or hiring a wedding DJ? Think about the following stuff:

  • If you’ve envisioned your wedding as a “killer dance party” then find yourself a super-awesome DJ. This also works if you want music, but don’t have the time or the energy to create a several-hours-long playlist.
  • If you and everyone else wants to dance, but it’s not a huge priority, or you have VERY strong opinions about music, start creating a wedding playlist.

Yes, there’s still exceptions. If you know exactly what you like to dance to, and plan on shaking your money-maker all through the night, you’ll be just fine if you can’t afford a DJ. However, if you’re not a hardcore dancer but still want dancing at your reception, a DJ can create a spectacular dance party.

DJs have one huge advantage over iPods-they have a wide selection of music at their fingertips and can make immediate adjustments based on the crowd’s mood. A quality, experienced DJ will read the crowd and keep them moving–they can switch gears seamlessly when your crowd is more Britney Spears than Rolling Stones (or vice versa). They can also troubleshoot technical issues easily and adjust volume levels among speakers, music and microphones for the ceremony, toasts, etc. Good DJs also provide tips on how to set up the dance floor, volume for different points during the night, and music flow. They’re there to make the party happen, and the best ones are extremely good at it!

wedding playlist
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How to Hire a Wedding DJ

So, you want a DJ? How do you hire one? Some of the best are actually club DJs who do weddings on the side. They want to make people dance, not focus on embarrassing/cheesy announcements and games.  A good DJ asks for “no play” lists from the clients, as well as short “must play” lists. They then base the rest of their selections on what these lists say about your taste in music, and combine that with their own knowledge of what gets a crowd going. But remember, if you want to tell the DJ every single song to play, go with a playlist. It’ll save you money and the DJ’s time.

How to Build a Wedding Playlist

Let’s say you decided on a playlist. Check out a few tips for making it rock:

  • Create playlists for each part of the day. If possible, create playlists for the pre-ceremony, processional, recessional, cocktail hour/dinner, first dance and dance party/reception. Separating playlists for ceremony songs is particularly important because it prevents your recessional music from starting following the end of your processional.
  • Delete all non-wedding playlists from the device. This makes it extra easy for a bridal party member to hit “play” and find the right song.
  • Have a backup! You might even consider a second backup as well. After all, electronics fail sometimes, such as a dead battery or a power cord shorting out. Prepare for this—if you’re running your music on an iPod, use your iPhone to back it up, and do the same thing with a laptop. A  minimum of two fully charged devices, along with their power cords, is best.
wedding playlist
photo credit: Sergey Sus via photopin cc

No matter what you choose in terms of wedding reception music, remember to think about your guests. If they’re a dance-loving crowd, chances are they’ll boogie no matter what. If your guests don’t like dancing, they aren’t going to care what option you went with. The bottom line, however? Get out there and dance like no one’s watching! Some of the best weddings are those where the couple is out getting down all night long.

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