DIY Wedding DJ


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.

shannon-justin-newtown-ct-742 shannon-justin-newtown-ct-752

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.

8 thoughts on “DIY Wedding DJ

  1. Tara says:

    Thanks for letting me know this is a possibility. I have had thoughts of having a ipod dj from the beginning. All I have ever seen is “DONT DO IT” thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Kate says:

    I just randomly happened upon this and I LOVE that you included your playlist. That will really come in handy knowing that this is exactly the route we will end up going.

  3. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I found your link from Apartment Therapy and was discouraged by all the negativity, but you’ve built my confidence back up! Your wedding looks like it was a blast, and your song choices are phenomenal. So glad you shared this!

    • shannzav says:

      Hi Kimberly, We had a lot of the music in itunes already from CDs. We did download some of the songs we didn’t have on hand. I probably spent $30 on songs (so about 30 songs), which is still way cheaper than the DJ.

  4. Angela says:

    I think you have to have the right amount of guests and right kind. Most of my guests were 40s and really had to be pushed to dance by the dj so for us this didn’t work. If there are a lot of young guests that can liven the place up or encourage others to dance I could see this working out better than it would for me. 🙂 Great article BTW!

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