With the ever advancing iTunes player, brides today think twice before shelling out for a professional DJ. Putting together your own playlist and allowing a friend or family member emcee for the evening not only saves a lot of money, but also allows total personalization while embarrassment-proofing your event. We have all been to that wedding… the DJ starts playing that one song, all then eyes turn to the bride as she awkwardly flags the DJ down across the room and tells him to kill it. Not fun!
So, you are going to tackle the music aspect… where do you begin? Here are some helpful tips and guidelines for ensuring an awesome and memorable self-DJed event.
1. Decide what music player you will use.
There are lot of music players out there, even some free downloads that resemble professional DJ software. When deciding this for our wedding, I began by playing with various free DJ software downloads that allowed cool mixing effects. What I quickly found is that they are full of bugs and often shut down on me. That is the last thing you want to worry about on your big day. I would suggest you go with whatever music player you are most comfortable and familiar with to prevent mishaps.
I ended up using iTunes and it was PERFECT for the job. The playlists allow you a great deal of control over the order and placement of songs, and the play next function ensures a smooth transition from dinner to dancing. Plus, I also was able to set an ending time on each song and crossfade them: eliminating the potential awkward pauses in song transitions.
2. Define your playlists
Write down the entire flow of the evening and separate each section with times and playlist titles. Include a description of the mood you would like to achieve. For example, ours looked something like this:
5:00 Pre-Dinner (Upbeat, happy, casual songs. Country classics, bouncy oldies love songs.) 6:00 Bridal Party Entrance (Party songs, appropriate, representative of us.) 6:15 Dinner (Similar style to pre-dinner playlist.) 7:00 Cake/First Dance (Significant songs to us.) 7:15 Oldies Dance Songs (Classics, with very bouncy beats and fun lyrics. Start with 60's, then 70's, 80's, and a few 90's) 8:00 Party Dance Set (Pop songs with dance-able beats, several slow dance songs, several group dance songs)
3. Sort through your own music collection
You may be surprised at how many of your songs fit into a category you’ve created. Chances are you probably own songs that are significant to you as a couple, as well. After I finished this step, I had made a significant dent into the pre-dinner, and dinner playlists, and had a solid start on the party dance set.
iTunes playlists show you how many hours worth of songs you have in each playlist. You should aim to have at least 20% more songs than necessary for the time allotted because often times things don’t flow exactly as planned.
4. Listen to lot’s of music and make a ‘to get’ list
I was able to find many sites that offered lists of the most popular wedding or dance music. From there I could weed through and decide which would work well for us and which to skip. Here are some sites that I found very helpful:
There is so much music out there! The hard part of this process is sitting down and listening to all of it in order to decide which you want to play.
5. After you have your list, go get the music!
First, I asked friends if they had some of the songs I was looking for. After that I went on iTunes and Amazon MP3 to get the rest. It is much more cost effective to buy them individually versus purchasing an entire CD of which you might use three songs. That is, unless you purchase a top hits CD like the WOW series. You might like most of the songs on one CD.
6. Put together the playlists
Now that you have your music, begin sorting it into playlists and evaluating where you need more and where you have plenty. I also spent a great deal of time decide the order of the songs so that they would transition well and have a good mix of music.
7. Ask a family member or friend to Emcee
While you do not need a full-fledged DJ, this is not a hands-off kind of project. Someone needs to manually start the music and transition it at different points of the evening (for instance, your first dance). If you can find someone who is charismatic and willing to speak a little, that is a big plus and greatly helps with directing the flow of the evening. Definitely pick someone you trust who is known to be tactful, after all, this person will have a mike in their hands! Also, it is a big plus if they are tech-savvy and can configure the speakers.
Personally, I asked my uncle and he did an absolutely fabulous job! He sounded like a true announcer and kept the music running smoothly all night long. And, he even was able to take song requests (for the ones I had in my library) which was something I had not anticipated!
Planning your own wedding music is totally doable and super fun! You will hear songs you know and love all day long, what could be better? 🙂 Music has a powerful ability to set the mood. Make sure that your wedding has the perfect atmosphere by eliminating the unfamiliar DJ aspect and personalizing the music yourself.