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Hire a DJ or use your phone for your wedding reception?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

"A study showed that over 70% of brides wished they spent more on the entertainment portion of their wedding."


As a professional DJ company, we run into this occasionally, a couple is on a tight budget and wants to save a few dollars by not hiring a DJ and simply go with a predetermined play list on a mobile MP3 player. OK, we admit it, we are biased towards hiring the DJ. But let us explain, there may be somethings you haven’t though about.

Much of this is going to depend on your wedding including the number of people attending, how long your reception is going to be, do you want dancing or just background music, etc.

Let’s take a standard wedding that has the ceremony in the late afternoon and then a cocktail hour, followed by dinner and then a dance. For our scenario let’s assume about 80 to 100 people and cocktails, dinner and dancing are all going to be in the same room.

In order to play music, you need to have a PA system. A Bluetooth speaker from Best Buy or your cousins 1992 stereo just isn’t going to cut it with that many people. You could rent a PA system; however, this will end up costing you around $200. You will also need to pick up the rental system the day of your wedding and return it the day after. Planning on doing this the day before? The price just doubled to $400 as you are incurring a 2nd day rental fee. Now you have at PA system, you need to get it running. You don’t need to be a professional sound engineer to do this, but it does take a little bit if "know how" and time you simply may not have.

It is possible the hall may have a PA system that you could use. They may charge extra for this, or not and it may sound awesome, or not. I’ve been to enough halls were the PA was put in the 60s and 70s and are showing their age. You need to remember most PA systems in halls are meant for speeches or background music, not full on dancing. If your wedding is outside, you don’t have a choice, you are renting equipment.

So far, it’s a pretty big hassle, but you are up to it and are saving some money and that’s what counts. Except, we are not done yet. The ceremony is over, your guests are arriving at the hall for cocktails and there is no music. There is no music because you and your new spouse, the wedding party, and family are getting pictures done somewhere else. Unless you have this already arranged to have someone you trust to press play on the mp3 player at the hall, and of course manage the volume so it’s not too loud or too quiet.

Assuming you can get through, cocktail hour, the bride and groom introductions, dinner music, speeches and toasts, it will be time for the dancing to start. Here’s the thing. I don’t know any professional DJ anywhere that could plan out a 3 to 4-hour dance song by song in the proper order and keep most of the guests happy. There are just too many variables. So, what ends up happening, is you end up running over to the mp3 player every few minutes to cue up the next song. Of course, while you are doing that, there is this awkward science that comes over the dance floor as you are searching for that next song, and the dance floor clears. But this doesn’t just happen once, it happens many times per hour. Finally, guests catch on to what is happening and after a few drinks, a few of them decide they can do a better job than you, they run over to the MP3 player and they start picking the next song. But wait, it gets even worse, after a while, they won’t even wait for the current song to finish. If you had any music flow, it’s now gone along with most of your guest’s patience. Now you end up with two or three of these people and they start fighting over what song to play next and you become a referee / DJ at your own wedding.

In the end, you’ve invested time and money and have gotten at best marginal results.

Or, you can hire a professional DJ who will also act as an MC and ensure the right music is played at the right time through a high quality sound system, take requests, manage the evening timeline, dealing with the unexpected (ie: equipment failures) manage the music volume and dealing with setup and tear-down so you can enjoy one of the most special days of you life with out any added stress.

So, was this a worse case scenario? Maybe, but this kind of thing does happen and more often than you think. Could it happen at your wedding? Yep, it sure can.

As a professional DJ, I would never DJ my own wedding. I have too many other things going to during my wedding to worry about the entertainment. It’s kind of like a dentist working on their own teeth. It just doesn’t work!

Hire a DJ or use your phone for your wedding reception?

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Starlight DJ Services is a mobile DJ and Entertainment company based in Dorchester, Ontario and services all of South Western Ontario.

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