The Road To The Altar: How Important Is It To Have A DJ At Your Wedding–Really?

April 28, 2016  |  



As I type this, I’m literally struggling in the background to scan and put a signed contract for a DJ on my USB to send. (It’s 2016, can we please make electronic signatures the go-to method already? Please, and thank you.) I’m desperate to get it done because the entire process of trying to find a DJ and haggle for a decent price has been an absolute headache. But then again, if you’ve followed my particular stories for this column, what part of wedding planning hasn’t been a headache?

The issue is that we didn’t need any ol’ DJ for our wedding. We are doing the absolute most, so we needed a DJ in Chicago who could play Nigerian music. We searched pretty far and wide and heard recommendations from friends and family. (No, dad, I don’t want cousin __ to DJ just because “he could do it.” That doesn’t make me feel very confident in his skills…) And most of the time, we were given pretty egregious prices. While Jazmine was able to get a family friend to DJ her upcoming wedding for around $600, one guy gave us a quote of $2,500. To DJ from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., he wanted us to pay him the equivalent of going on a trip abroad, putting him in a nice hotel, and eating in some fancy-schmancy five-star restaurants for 7-10 days.

Come on, man.

It was during these moments of frustration where I wondered if it even was all that necessary to have a DJ. And this isn’t a knock to the talented folks on the turntables, but at the exorbitant prices some DJs twist their mouths to say out loud, you can’t help but question what exactly you’re really paying for. At the most, maybe it’s for the ability to know how to transition/fade in/fade out/mix songs seamlessly. To know what songs work for what moment. And, of course, to be something of an MC.

However, I wonder just how offbeat (read: “tacky”) it would have been if I waived a DJ and just hooked up my iPod.

Or my laptop with a funky mix of songs.  A little Wizkid here, a little Kiss Daniel there, some Beyoncé and Drake for the non-Nigerian guests. Throw in some Michael Jackson and Prince just to pay homage — and to turn the party out — with some classics. In my mind, it sounds like a dream come true.

But in reality (and being that I can be a little bit of a pessimist at times…), I could foresee a lot going wrong. Certain kinds of speakers would probably be needed that I wouldn’t want to pay to have. I don’t have any clean versions of songs (and my fiancé’s strict Pentecostal parents don’t play that), and if something went wrong with my equipment and I needed backup music, then what? And we all know a party isn’t a party without music. But a party IS a failure if there are extended periods of awkward silence.

Still, more and more people seem to be taking the amateur DJ route (a.k.a., using Spotify PREMIUM–no commercials that way) and there are very few complaints.

“It was super convenient being able to make the different playlists (arrival music, dinner music, after dinner music, cake cutting music, dancing music, etc.). Our venue was in the middle of nowhere, so there was no internet to speak of, and being able to have the playlists offline was great. We were able to hook up my laptop to my husbands PA the night before when setting up to test it out, and it worked great! We had an appointed music person who played the appropriate playlists at the appropriate time and voila! For the $9.99 for the month it was totally worth it. I would highly recommend it.”

“If you’re using an iPod/ipad, get the app WeddingDJ now. We set up all our playlists in iTunes, then set them up to play through WeddingDJ. The app is helpful because it can fade for you and requires swiping or double selecting to pause, play, or skip a song which virtually assures no accidental touches will disrupt your music. It also progresses between playlists in the order you have them set up. We had a friend run the sound and it was super easy for him to understand how to use the app and work everything.

One thing about self-DJing – it works best if your venue already has a sound system, or you can borrow one from a friend. If you have to rent a sound system, that’s another vendor you’ll have to deal with and an added expense.”

“My friend didn’t have a DJ for her wedding; they just did the IPOD thing. It turned out great, and they saved a good chunk of money. I know our DJ is going to cost us just under 2k, so it’s a lot of money saved!”

But as I said before, we are still going with a DJ. While the iPod or Spotify route seems super convenient and inexpensive, we were able to find a DJ who would do our reception for a little over $1,000, and in reality, some responsibilities I don’t want on my shoulders, especially not on my big day. That, and you know my people are hard to convince when it comes to going the unorthodox route. But I am interested in seeing if forgoing the services of a DJ is something that will catch on big time in the next few years, what with all the streaming services available nowadays and more couples looking to think outside the box–and save money in different ways. Because, really, all you need are a few top 40 hits, a few classics, and some free alcohol and it will be a party for your guests no matter what. So does it really matter who or what is delivering those jams?

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