Updated: Apr 12, 2021
It is possible to DJ your own wedding. But is it worth all the work?
By Ben Boylan
"I am in the early stages of planning my wedding for next spring ...I'd sorely underestimated the going rate for a DJ. Can I skip it, or is that a terrible mistake?" The short answer is yes, you can skip a DJ, but should you? Read on, and together we will answer the question "do we need a DJ at our wedding?"
Why Would You NOT Have a DJ at Your Wedding?
Wedding DJ Price
First off, price. In WeddingWire's 2020 "Wedding Report" they say the average DJ charges $1,200. And in big cities, that price is low. In New York City for example, many DJs charge upwards of $2,000 just to provide music at a 6-hour wedding. These prices can be shocking, especially if you aren't expecting them.
Some People Don't Dance
Second, some families aren't into dancing. Ask any DJ and they will tell you about the time not one person danced at a wedding, and two weeks later they got a glowing review! If you don't foresee your family or friends hitting the dance floor, and you think background music (or no music) would be enough, maybe you don't need a DJ.
The Wedding's Too Small
If you are having a very small wedding, you might not need a DJ. There's just something weird about hiring a DJ to perform for 20 or 30 people.
You are Very Laidback
If you don't hire a DJ, there is a good chance things won't go 100% according to plans and there may be a few bumps along the way. Some people are cool with this, but other people have a different vision for their wedding. It depends on you and your partner.
Some Wedding DJs are Corny
As a wedding DJ, I will admit this is true. Some of them play the same played out songs at every wedding and do announcements in a sportscaster's voice. A lot of them have a bad reputation and deserve it. However, there are good wedding DJs out there. But still, do you need a DJ at your wedding?
Why Have a Wedding DJ?
You Won't Have to Worry (or do any work)
A DJ brings peace of mind that everything will work and happen on time. If you don't hire a DJ, I guarantee you that you will be working during your wedding. And it's not just during your wedding, you'll be working long before then. Here are just some of the things you will need to do:
Rent or borrow a speaker system
Rent or borrow a mic
Get someone to make announcements
Make a playlist for each part of the night
Deal with guests' suggestions (complaints)
And these are assuming you are having your wedding at home. If you are having it at a wedding venue, you may need insurance to bring in a speaker system, so try to find one with their own system.
Without a LOT of preparation, here are some of the things that might go wrong:
One of your guests will complain the music is too loud, and others will complain it's too quiet (right after you turn it down).
The mic will screech with feedback.
Announcements won't be made at the right time and there may be mistakes in name pronunciation, etc.
Your playlists will have 5 to 10 seconds of silence between songs, songs will go on too long, songs might be the wrong version, etc...
Your guests will ask you to play a song you didn't prepare or that you don't like. And certain guests will ask you for this repeatedly throughout the night.
The DJ setup might not look great.
Your Guests Will Dance More
If you have a family, and friends, who like to dance a lot, then you should get a DJ. The DJ will be able to round out your "must-plays" with songs that will get everyone on the dance floor. They will be able to beat-mix so there is no gap in between songs. And they will be able to read the crowd and adjust the music on the fly. All things a Spotify playlist can't do. And the DJs who are good are surprisingly good at this.
Your DJ will make announcements throughout the night telling your guests what to do. And if they are good, they'll do it right. They won't announce the first dance if your photographer is in the bathroom, and they won't forget to make an important announcement.
Things you Should Look For in a Wedding DJ:
They should be very familiar with your favorite genres of music (ask them!)
They should let you choose all the songs you want
They'll make announcements in a natural voice
Do you need a DJ at your wedding? No, you don't need one, but you should get one unless you fall into one of these categories:
You can't afford it
You don't think there will be much dancing at your wedding
You are expecting less than 50 guests
(It also will help to be extremely laidback in case mistakes happen)
If you can afford it and want to have a big dance party, consider hiring a DJ. Good luck and have a great wedding!