Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Save Serious Money - Do you need a DJ for your wedding reception?

The most difficult weddings to plan aren't the $300 per head, no expense spared, all weekend long extravaganzas. While those do present interesting challenges, through the years I have found that the greatest challenge is planning a wedding on a budget.
The easiest way to keep costs down is to cut out the parts of your wedding you don't need. If you find yourself skimping on your invitations, your flowers, or anything else, ask yourself: do I need this at all?
If you want your wedding reception to be an all-night dance fest with lights, effects, and an emcee to keep the energy up, then yes, you need a DJ. And, if you don't spring for a good DJ, you will regret it because a terrible DJ will ruin your wedding. However, if all you want your DJ to do is make a couple of announcements and play songs you picked out, you don't need to hire a DJ at all. All you really need is a sound system, a microphone, an Ipod, and a "designated sound person".
Most basic jamboxes do not have a place to plug in a microphone, and in any case aren't powerful enough to fill a large room with sound. If you have a friend with a nice sound system, ask if you can borrow it for your wedding. If that isn't possible, rent a sound system. If you're in the Raleigh-Durham area, I like the ones at Deejays because they're easy to use and pretty inexpensive: you can rent a two-speaker sound system, with a microphone, for less than $200.
Make a wedding playlist on your IPod at least a week before the wedding, and have your designated sound person hook it up to the sound system at the appropriate time. Your designated sound person should also use the microphone to announce the important events (the big ones are your entrance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, your first dance as a couple, the cake cutting, and your departure), and pass the microphone to the Best Man, Maid of Honor, and others for toasts.
    Quick tips:
  • Make sure your IPod is fully charged for your big day!
  • Do a "test run" of the entire sound system at least a couple of days before your wedding. Make sure the IPod, speakers, and microphone all work together without popping or feedback. Make sure your designated sound person knows how to set it up.
  • Discuss the timing of the reception with the designated sound person, so they know when you want your important announcements to happen, and which songs you want played for your special dances.
  • Bridezilla tip: Your designated sound person is not your servant. Nobody should be pressured into lending out expensive sound equipment, or making announcements in public against their will. Ask a friend, a family member, bridesmaid, or an usher well in advance and don't throw a fit if they say no. This is not a job to spring on someone at the last minute. Remember that first and foremost, this is a guest at your wedding.
  • Make sure the designated sound person has your IPod before your reception. Give it to him / her the day before, just to be safe.
  • The designated sound person should: set up the sound system before the reception, plug in the IPod, make announcements at the appropriate times, and make sure the Best Man has the microphone for the toasts. Overall, this won't take more than 20 minutes of their time the day of, plus about 30 minutes of time before the wedding for planning.
  • Don't forget to write your designated sound person a thank you note after your wedding.


  1. Excellent post! Very informative. Many couples really don't need a DJ but think they have to have one for some reason. It's a great way to save money depending on the type of reception.

    Remember Something Blue

  2. Hi, I am the Owner/Dj of Absolute Sounds Dj. I have a very different opinion. I think the dj is the life of the wedding, aside from announcing the bridal party, formality dances, and other interactive activities, the dj can help guide the reception to achieve a smooth flow. A designated sound person will undoubtly fail at reading crowds, and determining what is best to play next. If you don't have an experienced person behind the controls, your guests will surely leave after the first couple of songs. Just my two cents worth.