Hello, fellow Bridechillas! My name is Brandon Stiles, and I'm the founder of an entertainment company based out of Atlanta, GA, Uptown Down Entertainment. We provide DJs and live bands for weddings, but we understand that not everyone has the budget to hire live entertainment, so in this three-part series, I'm going to share my top tips to save you a little money by DJ'ing your own wedding.
You will learn
- How to put together awesome playlists that will appeal to you and your guests (yes, even the picky music-people of the world).
- Where to rent a sound system and what gear to add to your list.
- How to find a great MC, and most importantly: how to keep your guests dancing, and have a super fun, super smooth night.
I've DJ'd hundreds of weddings over the years, and when it comes to the topic of DJ'ing your own wedding, you'll find a lot of naysayers:
"You can't DJ your own wedding! DJs have years of experience reading a room!"
"I've never seen anyone successfully DJ their own wedding… it just ends up being a huge mess, and no one has fun!"
And while it's true that most DJs can read a room and have a good idea of what to do next, and know how to smooth out performances (and wedding days), this is not some sort of magic gift we've been given- it's just the product of DOING it over and over. It's nothing that can't be learned, and more importantly, nothing that can't be taught. With all that in mind, we're starting a new 3-part series, where I'll teach you 10 simple steps to DJ your own wedding. Let's dive in!
STEP 1: PUT TOGETHER AN AWESOME PLAYLIST
The most important step and really can make or break a wedding reception.Before we get into some tips on how to do this, I want to speak to the self-professed ‘music snobs' here, not that there's anything wrong with being an indie aficionado BUT… if you want people to dance and party at your reception, playing a deep cut off of the Indie Album of the Year will never pack out a dance floor like a trusty ole Backstreet Boys tune.It's science!
- Figure out the number of songs you'll need. I usually plan on playing about 30 songs an hour- around 2 minutes a song to keep people from getting bored. Knowing that, a simple math calculation will reveal that you'll need between 120-150 songs for a 4-hour reception.
- This is a key point that most people neglect. Build your playlist with your guests in mind.Yes, it is YOUR day, BUT… people aren't going to force themselves to dance out of obligation; if the music doesn't get them moving, my experience is that they're perfectly content to sit at the tables and just talk.Ask yourself, who are your guests? Are they younger 20-somethings who love 90s pop? Or older guests who have a taste for Sinatra and Dean Martin? Start putting together your playlist based on those preferences- majority rules here, folks!
- Pick songs from all generations, from the 1950s onwards, this will give your reception playlist a wider appeal, especially to the older crowd.When I first started DJ'ing, I would pick out the Top 10 most popular songs from each decade and use that as my starting point.If you'd like a full list of songs to play, I've put together a list of 120 great wedding dance songs here.
STEP 2: RENT A SOUND SYSTEM
So we've got your playlist coming together- now you'll have to figure out how to play it! But where does one get a sound system, and how much ‘sound' is enough?
To answer the first question, my recommendations are Guitar Center or Sam Ash. Both companies have international locations and will provide good quality systems for pretty low prices, usually well under $100 a day! If they don't have a location near you, I would advise looking at small, independent music shops, who will rent you a simple PA system that will get the job done.
In terms of how big of a system you need, I recommend what I call the BMS: Bare Minimum System (many hours went into crafting that name!).
Your wedding reception BMS will consist of
- Two 12" speakers on speaker poles (I use the QSC K12s, which are also what most Guitar Centers rent to you)
- a microphone with stand-a music player (iPod or laptop)
- Cables that hook them all together.
That's it! That will be sufficient even for the biggest weddings in large venues.
You don't NEED a mixer or exotic connection cables. With most modern sound systems, two 12" speakers will be PLENTY to move all the air you'll want to move, and after that, you'll just need a microphone (for speeches/toasts/announcements) and a music player to play your tunes!
STEP 3: FIND YOUR MC
Your next step is to find a friend (or a friend of a friend) to MC the reception.Remember, an MC is pretty much a second coordinator. Yes, they usually specialise in getting a crowd up and moving, but they also work in close contact with the actual wedding coordinator to make sure people are where they need to be, as well as ensure that your wedding day flows smoothly.Want to know something MCs are NOT? Hard to find. You don't need to go out and find someone who has a degree in "MC'ing" with years of experience on their resume- you just need someone who's not afraid of public speaking, is comfortable talking into a microphone and does a good job of keeping things organized.
Who's your funniest and most organized friend? If two different people come to mind, maybe they can tag team it!
The only two qualifications you'll want to consider- who's someone you can trust to keep your wedding day schedule moving and flowing, and can work with a coordinator to move it along? Remember, the term means ‘Master of Ceremonies'- an official-sounding title to be sure, but it's just a person that can keep things moving and encourage people to join in the celebration.
That brings us to the end of Part 1 in our new series. Next time we'll be going over outlining the flow of your Wedding Day to ensure it goes smoothly, how to create a 'night before' checklist to make sure everything is ready to go, and how to setup iTunes or Spotify to 'auto-mix' your playlist!
If you want to know more, check out www.howtodjyourownwedding.com/bridechilla.There you'll receive a special Bridechilla offer for the 90-page eBook and video course that will walk you step-by-step on how to successfully DJ your own wedding and make sure your friends have an awesome time.Until we meet again!--