Hiring a DJ vs. Making Your Own Wedding Playlist

It’s a question as old as time: For my wedding, should I hire a professional DJ, or should I make my own, pre-made playlist? There are obvious benefits to both scenarios, and everyone has their own opinions—and they will surely hound you with why they think they’re right and yadda, yadda, yadda…but you don’t need to hear all of that right now! You’re stressed out as it is planning the other aspects of your wedding, you don’t need people screaming in your ear and stressing you out even more. So, instead, I will be going over the pro’s and con’s of both scenarios, and then we’ll discuss the how-to’s of each scenario; we’ll lay it all out on the table and you can decide for yourself which suits your needs the most. You can thank me later. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

I’ll admit it, I’m kind of wedding-obsessed. Maybe it’s the romance in the air, maybe it’s the delicious catered food, and maybe (probably) it’s the open bar—but no matter what the case is, simply put, I love weddings. I have been to dozens of weddings in only the last couple ofyears, okay? Don’t judge me. So I have seen weddings done in a myriad of diverse ways. I’ve seen DJ weddings, bands (we won’t talk about that today), and weddings utilizing premade playlists (colloquially: iPod weddings.) I’d say that, in my personal experience, I’ve seen DJ weddings be done about 65% of the time, iPod weddings about 20% of the time, and band weddings about 15% of the time. I’ve seen all three done in spectacular ways, and I’ve seen all three be major flops as well. And when it comes down to it, the trick to being successful with your choice is equal parts about preparation and recognizing what you want. If you want to have an all-out dance party, and are pretty flexible with your music taste, then get yourself a DJ. If you want there to be some dancing, but it’s not going to be the focus of the wedding and you are a total music snob, then stop wasting time and get started working on that playlist!

One pivotal, humungous, extremely important benefit that DJs have is, it’s like having a party-wingman. It’s your wedding—you don’t have time to be thinking about the technical aspects of the event like speakers, detecting the mood of the audience, and organizing speeches. This way you don’t have to worry about the volume being wrong, or speakers going out—and if they do, they you have a professional there who can fix the issue in a few fleeting moments, rather than causing a long, five-minute long lull in the party, which can completely drain the energy out of a wedding. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen and it’s the saddest thing to watch. Many DJs can act as a host for your party: announcing the newlyweds, call attention to toasts, and issue last call for the bar. DJs can be really awesome, but having an iPod wedding can be just as awesome.

Lets say you go with a DJ Wedding. Here are some important things to remember about hiring a DJ: There are two different kinds of DJs. There are the kind that typically perform at clubs, and that do weddings on the slide—these DJs can be really a lot of fun because they are all about making people shake their booties and getting the party going. And then there are DJs that specialize in weddings. There’s not a lot of differences between the two, but wedding DJs are usually more apt in being a host, whereas club DJs aren’t quite as comfortable, but are usually way quicker at getting people on the dance floor. For either DJ type, it’s important to make a short list of “must play” songs and a list of “must not play” songs. Don’t make either list too long, because if you give a huge list of “must play” songs, then you might as well just have an iPod wedding, and don’t make a huge “must not play” list, because sometimes we must all make sacrifices to preserve the life of the party. Beastie Boys 101, guys, c’mon.

Or, let’s say you go with an iPod wedding. Great! iPod weddings can be just as fun, and sometimes even better than weddings lead by DJs, but it takes much more preparation. Here are some quick tips on going this route:

1) You need to make more than one playlist. You need to have one for before the ceremony, processional, cocktails, first dance, and reception. Make sure to separate each into distinct playlists so you don’t spoil your first song at the end of cocktail hour accidentally. It’s generally a good idea to over-prepare. There’s nothing more embarrassing than running out of dance songs and having to start the playlist over from the beginning. Seriously, I’ve seen this happen.

2) Definitely have more than one backup. Check that each playlist works, have someone else have the same playlists on their iPod, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A POWER SOURCE PLUGGED IN AT ALL TIMES.

3) If you are using Spotify, make sure you have a premium membership and that your playlists are available offline, because if you show up to the banquet hall without saving your playlists offline and they have terrible internet service, it’s all over, my friend.

Like I said at the beginning, it’s all about preparation and knowing what you want. It’s also, however, about knowing your guests. If they’re music snobs too, it might be a good idea to go with an iPod wedding. If they are going to party until you have to forcibly remove everyone, then a DJ wedding is the way to go. But it always comes back to you: if you are having fun at your wedding, it doesn’t matter which direction you go, they will have fun too.

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