One way to save some wedding dollars is to be a DIY DJ. Jason and I originally elected to go the ipod route to stretch our small-ish (by today’s standards) budget further. We ended up, however, really enjoying the process of adding and deleting songs from our playlist to create the vibe we wanted. I don’t think we could have communicated what we were looking for to a DJ because it was more of a “I’ll know it when I hear it” kind of endeavor. Above all else, we wanted EVERYONE to hear something that would bring them to dance floor.
Of course, crafting a playlist that would have people itching to dance by cake time was not without its challenges. Phrases uttered in our apartment in the month leading up to the wedding included: “No one wants to dance to that obscure stuff ” and “I will be embarrassed if people think had anything to do with picking that song.” But, by the big day we were 100% committed to each and every lovingly (and painstakingly) selected song.
Before we get to the songs themselves, I want to give some tips on DIY DJing, in general. First, it doesn’t matter how great your playlist is if no one can hear it. Invest in some speakers. We purchased this PA system from Guitar Center; it came with speakers (and stands) with enough power for the size our reception space, a microphone, and all the necessary connecting cables. The cost to buy this was less than the cost to rent them.
Next, if you’re the one getting married, you don’t want to be manning the DJ booth. Delegate! We appointed one of my bridesmaids to emcee (an experienced party planner) the festivities and a good friend to adjust the music when necessary. We wanted to make these tasks as simple as possible and made 3 separate playlists to coincide with distinct portions of our wedding (welcome cocktails, dinner, and dance party), minimizing the amount of interaction our “DJ” would have with the ipod.
Finally, we crowd sourced song selection (to a degree) by including a “requests for the DJ” line on our RSVP cards (pictured below).
Welcome Cocktails Playlist: 37 minutes
Jason and I wanted the first songs played at our wedding to covey the fun we have together and remind our guests that this reception would be a party. We chose toe-tappers that most people would recognize. These songs were meant to be playing as guests entered the reception while Jason and I were having a few more photos taken outside (we had already done family and bridal party shots before the ceremony). Of course, things always take longer than you expect and we were late to join the party. The playlist was a little too short and had to be re-started. This didn’t end up being a big deal as most guests had not arrived in time to hear the first few songs on the playlist.
1.You Make My Dreams Come True: Hall and Oates
2. You are the Best Thing: Ray LaMontagne
3. Brown Eyed Girl: Van Morrison
4. Aint no Mountain High Enough: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
5. Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Temptations
6. Friday I’m in Love: The Cure
7. There She Goes: The La’s
8. This Will Be Our Year: The Zombies
9. Wouldn’t it Be Nice: The Beach Boys
10. I Want to Hold Your Hand: The Beatles
11. To the End: Blur
12. You Can Call Me Al: Paul Simon
Following this playlist, our “emcee” announced our entrance and Jason and I had our first dance to Queen’s Best Friend.
Dinner Mix: 100 minutes
We had a cocktail style reception in which our guests could help themselves to passed appetizers and heavier appetizers at two stations. We wanted to encourage people to be up and down, grabbing food and mingling (and breaking it down if the mood struck), so we kept the playlist upbeat. Toward the middle, we snuck in a few romantic slow songs but then planned the playlist to progressively build from the half way point so that guests would be ready dance after dinner.
1. God Only Know: The Beach Boys
2. I Only Want to Be With You: Dusty Springfield
3. I Feel Fine: The Beatles
4. My Sweet Lord: George Harrison
5. Baby: Gal Costa
6. Let Me Go Home: Camera Obscura
7. If There’s Such a Thing as Love: The Magnetic Fields
8. Your New Cuckoo: The Cardigans
9. Lisztomania: Phoenix
10. Lost in the Supermarket: The Clash
11. Mint Car: The Cure
12. You Might Think: The Cars
13. Be My Baby: The Ronettes
14. Stand By Me: Ben E. King
15. Sea of Love: Cat Power
16. Dreams Come True Girl: Cass McCombs
Jason dances with his mom during dinner
17. Kooks: David Bowie
18. I’ll Take You There: The Staple Singers
19. Satisfied: Cee Lo Green
20. Crazy on You: Heart
21. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Spontaneous dancing occurred during Bachman Turner Overdrive by the folks the requested it on their response card.
22. Bang a Gong (Get it On): T. Rex
23. Don’t Bring me Down: Electric Light Orchestra
24. Tonight She Comes: The Cars
25. Alright: Supergrass
26. Come One Eileen: Dexy’s Midnight Runners
27. Should I Stay or Should I Go: The Clash
Following the dinner playlist, our emcee announced our maid and matron of honor and best man for toasts. Then we cut our cupcakes!
DANCE PARTY MIX: 120 minutes
Yes! Finally, the dance party has arrived. We were truly committed to getting as many people as possible out on the floor so we tried to include a variety of genres. We were largely successful!
People were on the dance floor before we had even finished our cake.
1. Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough: MJ (obvious choice for the first song! Recognizable to everyone and brings people to the dance floor like Kelis brings boys to the yard).
2. Freedom: George Michael
3. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours: Stevie Wonder
4. Only the Good Die Young: Billy Joel
5. Do You Love Me: Contours
6. Joy to World: Three Dog Night
7. What I Like About You: The Romantics
8. Our House: Madness
9. I Want You Back: Jackson 5
10. Call Me Maybe: Carly Rae Jepsen (Jason rejected this one but I stood my ground. The proof is in the pudding: everyone danced)
11. Love At First Sight: Kylie Minoque
12. Like a Prayer: Madonna
13. Love Shack: B-52s
14. Rocket: Goldfrapp (This song was less well-known. People left the dance floor. I guess you need to build in time to refresh the drinks)
15. Mr. Blue Sky: Electric Light Orchestra
15. Build Me Up Buttercup: The Foundations
16. You Shook Me All Night Long: AC/DC
17. Can’t Help Falling in Love: Elvis Presley (our one slow song…its the one that played while I walked down the aisle)
18. P.Y.T: Michael Jackson
19. Rock Your Body: Justin Timberlake
20. Hey Ya! (Radio Mix/Club Mix: OutKast
21. Crazy in Love: Beyonce
22. Family Affair: Mary J. Blige
23. Ignition (Remix): R. Kelly
24. You Never Can Tell: Chuck Berry
25. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch): The Four Tops
26. The Twist: Chubby Checker
A fine example of twisting.
27. Honky Tonk Women: The Rolling Stones
28. Dancing With Myself: Billy Idol
29. Good Life: Kanye West
30. Yeah: Usher
A full dance floor!
31. Toxic: Britney Spears
32. Just Dance: Lady GaGa
33. I Don’t Want To Be a Player No More: Big Punisher
34. Don’t Stop Believing: Journey (I made an announcement that this was the last song. Everyone spontaneously got into a big circle on the dance floor and swayed. No one was left sitting down. Who needs a DJ!).
* ipod heart photo from fanpop.