Planning an affordable, yet elegant wedding requires striking a careful balance between outsourcing what needs to be outsourced and doing yourself what you can realistically take care of on your own. For some people, wedding music can become one such do-it-yourself project—especially if you happen to have a friend who knows a thing or two about DJing. Not only can this save you money, but you’ll probably have more control over the music that plays, since you and your fiance(e) can prepare all the playlists yourselves ahead of time and then just hand them over to your friend. But before you enlist your friend’s help in DJing your wedding, here are some important questions to consider.

DJing

Is your friend in the wedding party?

If your friend is in the wedding party as a groomsman or bridesmaid, then you should definitely reconsider having him or her DJ the music at your wedding. Being a groomsman or bridesmaid is already a major job in itself, and adding DJing on top of that will only take your groomsman or bridesmaid away from key moments in the wedding, like the ceremony and group pictures. Consider asking another friend to DJ or hiring a professional here.

Does your friend have the right equipment?

DJing requires more equipment than you think, so you’ll want to be sure that your friend has all the right equipment—or at least enough equipment to fill in for what the venue doesn’t already have. (The venue, for example, might already have a speaker system set up throughout.) Typically, the equipment that a DJ will need for a wedding includes a mixer, laptop, microphones, speakers, speaker stands, audio cables, extension cables, and folding tables.

Is your friend familiar with safe DJing practices?

It’s one thing if your friend has DJed house parties in the past, but when it comes to your wedding, you’ll want to be sure that your friend is familiar with the safe practices that go along with DJing. Some essential safety tips for DJing are taping down cords, spreading out power, and being attentive to equipment weight limits.

Wedding Party

Is your friend going to do more than play music?

If the music is really the only reason you were considering hiring a DJ, then having your friend sub in as a DJ could definitely work for you. But keep in mind that a professional DJ does more than just play the music. In addition to lining up music for play, a professional DJ will MC the reception, solve any technical problems that arise, and gauge the crowd and adjust volume accordingly. A DJ will usually also have extensive experience in selecting ideal music for the crowd, setting, and point of the reception you’ve hit. So if you’re going to have your friend DJ instead of a professional, be sure that you and your friend are on the same page regarding song requests, MCing, volume, etc. And if you’re not sure you want your DJ friend serving as MC for the night in addition to lining up music, you can always ask a second, charismatic friend to take over that job as needed.

Does your venue offer a laptop or mp3 hookup?

Many wedding venues today offer a no-nonsense hookup for your laptop or mp3 player, making DJing the music for your wedding as easy as bringing a laptop or mp3 player and having someone click around your playlist. So if this is the case at your wedding venue, having your friend be the “DJ” is definitely an option for you. Designate someone to bring a laptop or mp3 player loaded with the playlist and to click around on the playlist as song requests come up. Just be sure that all of the music is actually on the laptop or mp3 player instead of relying on Wi-fi here.

Tip number one: You can actually download an app for your phone that will help you organize all of the wedding music into categories, such as pre-ceremony, bride’s processional, recessional, dinner, dancing, first dance, father-daughter dance, etc. Just be sure you or a friend has a phone with enough memory for all of the music you plan on playing on the big day.

Tip number two: You can also set up your music playlist to cross-fade. And you should. This will help keep the party going much more smoothly.

Do you want to re-live your wedding down the road?

Here’s something that many don’t consider: one major advantage to creating your playlists ahead of time and having a friend keep things running smoothly for you music-wise is that you’ll have those playlists years after the wedding. With a DJ, meanwhile, you’ll have less control over what plays and when. So if you ever want to re-live your wedding by listening to the music that was played, the do-it-yourself route is the way to go.

This article discusses even more safety tips for DJing.