DJ’s are great – especially if you have a smaller entertainment budget (obviously paying for one person vs a 5+ person band is cheaper!), but some of our couples think, it’s just a person with a macbook, I could totally DIY this.
So, let’s talk about DIYing music vs hiring a professional DJ, as I’ve had couples DIY music (or go super minimal on music / sans professional DJ) and here’s what I’ve seen:
1. Issues with Sound Quality
In some cases my couples have rented a speaker system, or one used a Bose speaker, and it was just NOT loud enough. They tested the speaker, yes, but they tested it in an empty room, not realizing it would be MUCH different when the room was filled with 100+ people. As a result, people kept trying to fiddle with it / it made a bit of a dent in the dancing/partying portion of the evening.
Plus, nothing takes guests out of being present during a ceremony, when they cannot hear what is going on.
2. Issues with Rented Equipment/Management of Equipment
In the case of renting a speaker system – this might resolve the sound quality & level issue, HOWEVER, someone from your wedding/family/etc needs to know how to set this up and manage this system … I watched a brother of bride / friend spend an hour+ before the ceremony try to remember how to set the system up, to not much avail (and not to mention added STRESS). The brother/friend also didn’t really WANT to be managing the equipment all night, but I had to come to them every time I needed to someone to MC an announcement, or put a specific song on for a part of the reception.
3. Microphones & MCing
Don’t forget that DJs do more than just play a set of songs during the reception. They are also responsible for microphones during your ceremony (you will want this, nothing takes guests out of a ceremony quicker than not being able to hear!), and during your reception (toasts!). DJs are also your MC for the evening, helping me and your timeline move through the night – letting guests know they can come upstairs for dinner, or to get attention for the cake cutting. I have seen friends take this role, but often they aren’t so comfortable doing it / aren’t sure what to say. I have also seen a couple use a speaker/microphone combo unit, which had sound quality issues (#1!) and someone had to figure out how to plug the microphone in / etc.
4. Management of Songs & Atmosphere
One of the things a DJ does is reads the room, yes they play a set list in most cases, but each event is different … and professional DJs know how to read the vibes of rooms to know which songs to play when, and when to fade ones out / keep the 90s theme going / etc. An app cannot do this – yes I’ve had couples set a playlist / app on an ipad and go on their way, but it usually leaves to a much more low-key reception .. which is totally fine BUT …
5. Know Your Audience
Think of your guests too! You might not be big dancers/ music people …. but are your guests? I’d say, MOST people expect dancing at an evening reception (most of my DIYed music weddings were brunch weddings … but even then people WANTED to dance!).
6. Troubleshooting / Overall Management
Finally, even if the venue has an in-house system, does it also give you a person responsible for managing and troubleshooting the system? What if you don’t have the right cords to hook-up to it? What if the speakers blow a fuse? Who is troubleshooting and managing this? Hired DJs bring their own equipment, and good ones have backups and extra cords, etc to ensure your music/microphones/etc aren’t broken or interrupted. They are also managing everything that goes with the music and sound.
So those are our main points to consider when thinking of going DIY vs hiring a professional DJ. Did I miss anything big?
And just know, this isn’t a be all and end all! You can certainly DIY your music & have it be a success for your wedding, just be aware that you need (at the very least) to have at least one friend act as that proxy MC/DJ to be responsible for the device that is playing the songs / playing the appropriate songs when (like if you’re doing a first dance), etc.