Two men dancing at wedding, smiling and pointing at the camera while one man holds a toddler.

DJ vs. DIY Wedding Music

Your wedding should be a celebration of your love and commitment, yes, but it should also be one of the best parties you’ll ever throw! And the key component of every amazing party? Music!!


You definitely have options in this department, and there are some important things to consider before you settle on hiring a DJ or doing the sound yourself. Let’s take a look at the biggest factors to take into consideration, and if DJ or DIY takes the cake (pun intended) in those categories.

Prep & Execution (Takes the Cake: DJ)

The last things you need to worry about on your wedding day are the moving parts you’ve already worked so hard to plan. If you go the DIY route, you’ll definitely need to dedicate a friend or family member to be in charge of where the music plays, when it plays, and what plays. You’ll also need to make sure you have a reception playlist with plenty of music to cover the duration of your event and then some, and backups of those offline playlists just in case the internet is slow or something else goes wrong. A small but crucial detail that you don’t want to overlook is keeping a power source plugged into your DJ device at all times (nothing like a dead battery to abruptly cut the dance off).


If you hire a DJ, they should already have experience with weddings and can help you map out a schedule of events, songs and announcements ahead of time. Once they have a plan, they take care of the execution, setup and tear down for you.

DJ setup with computer and lights at a wedding.

Equipment (Takes the Cake: DJ)

Any reputable DJ is going to have quality equipment to give couples and guests the best experience possible. Aside from great speakers and microphones, most also have lights to set the mood on the dance floor. Nobody wants that awkward transition from dinner to dance where guests have to be coaxed out to the dance floor before the party really gets going, and a DJ with the proper equipment knows how to get people excited to dance right away.


The DIY method means you’ll need to find a speaker and device that has good sound quality and volume control, but can also be transported between the ceremony and reception by the person dedicated as the stand-in DJ for the night.

Bride bending dow to start music on a laptop for an outdoor reception.

Price (Takes the Cake: DIY)

The major draw of most DIY parts of a wedding is the significantly lower cost. For a wedding on a tight budget, creating your own playlists for the ceremony and dance is a great way to save a huge chunk of change.


The cost of a wedding DJ can vary widely depending on your area, their skills/experience and the overhead of their operation. For example, a typical wedding DJ cost for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area can run anywhere from $600-$5,000. That’s a huge range, but most DJs offer various wedding packages based on hours and extra equipment to make more affordable options available.

Variable & Disaster Control (Takes the Cake: DJ)

Not to freak you out or anything, but it’s inevitable that something will not go as planned on your wedding day. Luckily, hiring a DJ takes a lot of those variables away from your sound experience, increasing the likelihood of a smooth event. We’ve definitely heard the horror stories of DJs not showing up on time and awkward silences as a result, but reading through online DJ reviews and business directories can help you sort out the bad services from the honest ones. Having a professional DJ service behind the mic and speakers is less of a risk than that uncle you asked to take care of the DJ iPod, but seems to be more focused on the open bar instead. Another perk of a professional occupying the sound setup is that any equipment issues that arise can be dealt with swiftly.


Pumping your own jams for your wedding is risky by nature, but some couples don’t mind taking some risks for the associated benefits (like saving money). Equipment failure could be difficult to deal with if you don’t have any backups, or eyes on it the whole time to prevent or manage them. However, having your music already on site means you won’t have to worry about a late arrival.

Music Selection (Takes the Cake: DIY)

Providing your own music for your reception ensures that you’ll hear exactly what you want to and none of what you don’t want. If requests are something you want your guests to be able to make, having a service like Spotify will allow you to easily add, remove and reorder songs throughout the night. Doing it yourself is definitely the best way to get a completely custom experience, but if you need a few recommendations there are plenty of Spotify wedding playlists out there for inspiration.


Professional DJs will work with you to design a playlist for your event, but how customizable that is depends on each individual DJ service. Some have a go-to playlist they tend to follow with only a few modifications, and others want to work with you to customize the playlist exactly how you want it. It’s important to maintain an open line of communication to make sure the plan is hammered out, or you may end up with a general playlist that you’ll want to revamp during the party.


In most categories, hiring a DJ seems to be the more favorable option. However, if sticking to your budget means that you can’t hire someone, or there’s something else more important to you for that money to be spent on, then compiling and delegating the music yourself is the right option for you.

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