There’s no question about it – weddings are really expensive. According to The Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was over $31,000. Moreover, 45 percent of weddings ended up exceeding couple’s budgets.

Maybe you still want to have an awesome wedding but don’t have a ton of cash or don’t want to take out a mortgage to pay for one. In this case, it’s time to find a way to cut costs. One way to do so – serve as your own DJ at the wedding. With services such as iTunes and Spotify, you can keep the party up while saving as much as thousands by forgoing the DJ or wedding band altogether.

But cutting the DJ/wedding band isn’t all that easy — if you’re trying to provide a memorable wedding experience, you can’t just set your smartphone up and dance the night away. The music portion of the evening should be as meticulously planned as any other part of your special day.

Note: We aren’t trying to put all DJs out of work — there are some advantages to having them at a wedding. They can set the tone for the reception, serve as a party facilitator and can easily adjust the atmosphere during the party. We are merely mentioning it is possible to have a successful wedding without one.

Planning is Essential

Throughout the evening, there will be several times where the music should be stopped (dinner, toasts, anything of that nature). There will also be several points in the evening where the music will fit with a particular activity (first dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.) Don’t just wing it, make sure this is adequately planned out. Moreover, who’s going to know exactly when this is coming up? Make sure someone is available to pinpoint those parts of the wedding.

Must Have the Right Flow

Think of the weddings you have attended. What kind of music did they play? You’ve probably noticed some similarities. While the music playlist should be adjusted based on the guests at hand, there are definitely some safe bets and definitely off-limits songs. Use discretion when building the playlist.

But really, the playlist should fit you and your significant other. What songs have meaning to you? Was there a specific song that you danced to with your now-spouse for the very first time? Include it. Is there a song you and your friends love to rock out to? Include that too (within reason). Another good idea would be to solicit input from your guests. Consider adding a line for music requests on the invitation.

Also, build a playlist a bit longer than you would anticipate needing. There would be nothing more awkward than finishing a playlist early or having to repeat songs.

Same Goes for Equipment

You obviously just can’t show up with your iPhone and call it a plan. Make sure to have a good set of speakers that adequately fit the venue and its acoustics. Moreover, make sure that a good microphone (or two) is on hand. Often times the mics are provided by the DJ, so it’s something you’ll have to think about if you go without.

In addition, depending on the venue and the atmosphere you want to provide, you need to think whether you want to provide any additional lighting. If you want to control the lighting in the venue throughout the evening, someone needs to volunteer to take on that responsibility.

For both lighting and sound, the equipment that you will need will vary considerably depending on the venue you use. Make sure you get clear guidance from a venue staffer on the acoustics and lights. Once you receive that information, then you can go about the rental process. Needless to say, there are a lot of places online and in-store to look into when trying to find the right equipment. Given the event is one day, make sure that you can find a place, if possible, that will rent you the equipment you will need by the day.

A Backup Plan is an Absolute Must

Maybe one of the speakers goes out. Maybe your device goes bad. Or maybe you just get the vibe that people just aren’t quite into the dancing mood. Whatever the case may be, having a clear plan in place when things don’t necessarily work out as planned is an absolute necessity.

If you’re going to DJ your own wedding, a good backup would be to have at least two sets of everything: speakers, iPhones, playlists and microphones.

Have any other good tips to keep down the cost of the wedding? Feel free to provide your suggestions in the comments.

For more information, please contact a wedding coordinator by emailing!

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