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5 Tips for the Do-It-Yourself Wedding DJ

Bride and groom dancing at a wedding reception.

It’s your big day, your getting married, and you’ve decided to forgo a professional wedding DJ and use your best friend. In the age of Spotify, music is music, right? This is a hefty decision, though: wedding DJ’s are perennial favorites for many reasons beyond just playing music. So here are 5 tips to making sure your wedding reception doesn’t miss a beat when you do-it-yourself on the music:

1. Make Sure He/She Has the MC Chops

For your wedding reception you want to make sure it is a memorable occasion for all the right reasons.  This means avoiding cringe worthy songs or dances like the cha cha slide and keeping the mood just right for the perfect balance between a formal and party atmosphere.  Your DJ should be able to run the music software smoothly and most importantly, have a commanding presence on the microphone, whether they are announcing the first dance, or encouraging people to get on the dance floor.  

2. Pick the Music!

Music will decide who is on the dance floor busting out the award winning moves and who will be sitting at their tables avoiding the dance floor.  The best way to avoid this is to create a wedding playlist that your DJ will follow through the night making sure to get all the hits during the night.  You are the most important part of your wedding so you have the ultimate say in the music and atmosphere.  This means that you may want to create multiple playlists (Spotify is great for this, but make sure you have a paid account to avoid the commercials) for different parts of the night depending on when you want music in the background compared to when the dance floor opens up.

What we typically find works well at wedding is when a DJ mixes in some standard popular dance hits with music that more to your taste. Just make sure everything has a beat to keep people dancing! The worst thing that can happen (ok, there are worse things that can happen) is a dance floor clearing, energy sapping song.

To get you started with some foundational music selections, we’re particularly fond of the lists on this site:

3. Make Sure Your DJ Knows the Wedding Reception Drill

You may choose to keep your wedding reception an informal dance party, but people have come to love some of the conventions of the standard wedding reception. You should review what parts of the standard reception you want to use, and create a schedule for your DJ to follow. This includes reception area atmosphere music, the first dance, and breaks for toasts or other pauses you may want to plan specific to your own wedding.  Importantly, let your DJ know if you want to allow for requests to be taken or if there are any songs you do NOT want to be played as to not be surprised on your big night.

This is a great list of events that occur at a typical (American) style wedding reception:

Wedding dance reception AV computer monitor display.

4. Rent the Right Sound System for Your Wedding Reception

Although iPod DJing is becoming more popular among the DIY crowd, it's important to have professional grade speakers to cover your dance floor and get people dancing. For a typical dance floor with 50-60 people dancing, we recommend at least 2 1,000-watt speakers on stands, and a subwoofer. Much of the energy on the dance floor is carried by the subwoofer, with the regular speakers carrying the mid and high frequencies.

Check out our iPlay sound system rental package that is perfect for most weddings: If you need more sound, you can create your own sound system by renting speakers: and mixers: individually.

Call us and one of our rental specialists will help you create the perfect sound system for your wedding reception.

Also, don't forget the sound system for your wedding ceremony itself - you want to make sure everyone hears your vows! Here's a setup we did in Berkeley:

Black sound system speaker set up at outdoor event. 

5. Don’t Forget the Lights!

You should also consider augmenting your DJ setup by renting some basic DJ lights. This will allow you to dim the main lights and keep the focus on the dance floor. A spotlight can also be a great addition, especially for events like the first dance. Lastly, we highly recommend a gobo light. This is a custom light projected onto the dance floor or a prominent wall, typically showing the bride and groom’s names.

For lighting options, check out of lighting rentals here: Our most popular lighting package for weddings by far is our low priced dance floor light kit: Also, our gobo light projection package is a popular option:

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the avista rentals teamAbout Avista Audio Visual Rentals

Thank you for visiting our website! Our team at Avista has worked long and hard to understand what's important to you, our customer, which is distilled into our 4 Value Principles: 1) Being transparent with our pricing, 2) Being prompt and friendly in all our communications with you, 3) Delivering the right AV solution for your event at the best price, and 4) Exceeding your expectations with the high caliber of our crew and gear. We're very proud that these principals have driven strong growth since our founding in 2005, to where we are now one of the premier providers of AV rentals and AV production services on the West Coast. Customers have the choice of picking up and returning AV gear to any of our offices, or having our team of highly skilled audio and video technicians deliver and run the AV aspects of your meeting or event.

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