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DIY wedding music: everything you need to know

If you've decided a DJ isn't for you or you don't want a wedding band, here's everything you need to know about DIY wedding music

If you’re looking for clever ways to save money on your wedding, or if you don’t want to hire a wedding DJ, doing you own wedding music is a good option. It allows you to have total control over the music played, and will save money for other areas of your wedding too.  

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There’s more to it than simply compiling an amazing Spotify playlist and blasting it through the speakers, though. Read our advice for DIY music to ensure you have a packed out dance floor all night long.  

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Image | Getty

Investigate equipment

If you’re playing your own music, you don’t need high-level technical know-how – but tuning into the practicalities could mean the difference between wedding party heaven and dance-foor disaster.

“Ask your venue if it has a professional sound system you can use, and whether there any additional costs if you do so,” advises Louise Hearsum of wedding venue Pembroke Lodge. “Also ask if it’s covered by insurance, so you aren’t going to end up with a bill if anything is accidentally damaged.”

Another important thing to check is the compatibility of music-playing devices with any system you use, whether that’s an iPad, a laptop, or similar. “At Pembroke Lodge, all devices we know of can be used on our system – it just depends on the connecting lead,” says Louise. “Just be aware of the differences between Mac and PC cables so you have the right one.”

Louise strongly recommends finding out if your venue has a backup portable system, as well as bringing your own CDs and an extra device just in case. If the venue doesn’t have a system, you’ll need to investigate hiring equipment from an outside company.

Consider sound quality

Check to see if you can test the sound system in your reception space ahead of the wedding.

Bear in mind the acoustics of the room will be different when it’s empty, so ask your venue for advice – they’ll have a steer on what it’s like when full of people. Louise also advises asking about sound limits. “How will you know the music is getting too loud and needs to be turned down before it cuts out?” she asks. “Do they have an automatic sound limiter?”

Prep your playlist

This is the fun part! You have full control over the music, and you can listen to your carefully organised tracks on your anniversaries, taking you back to the day. Allow plenty of time for this task.

One big advantage of a professional DJ is that they’ll be able to judge the mood and adjust what they play accordingly. Unless you want to be going back and forth to your device all evening (unlikely to be possible), think carefully about the order of the tracks if your aim is to keep everyone on the dance foor. That said, it’s worth having an emergency playlist of guaranteed crowd-pleasers that you can stick on if the mood is dipping.

Noughties classics work well for this. Crossfading – where tracks flow seamlessly into each other – can also help, as gaps in the music won’t help the atmosphere.

Many apps, including iTunes, allow you to set up a seamless playlist. To keep things organised, create separate lists for different parts of the day. Think about exactly how much music you’ll need to cover all the festivities, then have back-up extras just in case.

If you’re using a streaming app such as Spotify or Tidal, check all the songs work in offine mode – don’t ever rely on wi-f.

READ MORE: The Ultimate Wedding Party Playlists for Your Reception

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Image | Getty

Consider guest involvement

“If an iPad is left playing within reach of guests who have had a few drinks, they will try to change the songs and stop them halfway through,” warns Louise. “It can become annoying.”

To avoid this, try to make sure your device is out of sight of your guests, if possible. You may decide you do want your guests’ input. If so, ask them to send song requests with their RSVPs, which you can add to your playlist. Or you could get everyone to use a jukebox app such as Jukestar, which lets guests request tracks and vote on upcoming songs, so only the crowd-pleasers get played.

Decide who’ll be in charge of the music during moments when you’re occupied, such as the bridal entrance processional music, your exit from the ceremony, or the first dance. Your venue may be able to help if you ask in advance, or a trusted guest could be given the task.

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READ MORE: The Ultimate Wedding Playlists for Your Ceremony