If you have decided on a DJ for your evening wedding entertainment, your next question will likely and naturally be how long you need them for. Besides, they’re not particularly cheap, and you don’t want your vendors to be hanging around with nothing to do. So, with that in mind, let us now look at what you should do.
So, how long do you need a DJ for a wedding? It is common practice to have a DJ for between 3-5 hours, during the latter half of the wedding reception – particularly from when the evening guests start to arrive. You will typically need them longer if they are playing your first dance song and if you want the party to extend well into the night.
Ultimately this question can have a wide variety of answers depending on how long your wedding is, whether you have other entertainment ideas for your reception, and where your wedding is even being held.
Nevertheless, what is paramount is that you get an idea of your wedding day timeline and discuss this with your DJ and wedding venue alike.
This is not something that should be left to chance.
You want everyone to know what they are doing, when, why, and when.
Now, how hands-on you have to be in this process largely depends on whether you have a wedding coordinator or not.
Assuming you don’t, it’s going to be up to you (or whoever else may be planning your wedding day timeline) to work out the intricate details.
Nevertheless, let us continue to explore the formalities of a wedding DJ – with all aspects of the timeline you really do need to consider.
When Should A DJ Start At A Wedding?
If a DJ is your only source of evening entertainment, most DJs will begin their first set at around 7-8 pm to coincide with the first dance but after the meal has finished.
This is very common if you have a mid-afternoon or morning-timed wedding ceremony.
However, if you are having an evening wedding and you are planning for your wedding party to go through to the early hours of the morning, your DJ may agree to start later than this so that you aren’t scrambling for music when everyone is still ready to keep hopping at 2 am.
If you have booked a live band or singer for part of the wedding evening entertainment, you may find, depending on whether your DJ set is first or last, that times can vary.
IF your live entertainment begins at 6 pm, your DJ may not start till 11 pm, but if your DJ is going first, you may have them beginning at 6 pm.
When your DJ starts their first set is entirely dependent on how you want the timeline of your day to run and also whether they will agree to an earlier or later set.
When Does A DJ Stop Playing At A Wedding?
Much like when a DJ should start, the time that your DJ stops playing is entirely signed on the planned timeline for your wedding. If they start earlier, they will inevitably finish earlier and vice versa.
When it comes to when a DJ stops playing at a wedding when they start, how long you have paid them to play, and even your venue’s rules regarding music will all play a part in when your DJ stops playing.
Speaking to your potential DJ about your expectations and hearing their recommendations when it comes to how long they are willing to play and whether your budget can accommodate the length can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to your wedding entertainment planning.
How Long Do DJs Typically Play At A Wedding?
Usually, a wedding DJ will play anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. Once again, the length of your DJ set will be based upon your wedding budget – the longer you want your DJ to play, the more dollars you will have to shell out. You also need to consider how long your DJ is even willing to play.
The cost of transporting their equipment, set up times, and even planning the music lists with you and your partner are all part of the costs.
Your DJ may have a minimum time they are willing to accept so they can ensure they are making a profit, but they also have a home and a bed to go to.
So they may have a specified time limit as to how late they will play.
You will also want to make sure you are aware of any rules your wedding venue has regarding music that may shorten the time your DJ will be allowed to play.
If your venue is surrounded by residential homes, you will likely be expected to cut the loud music out after a certain time.
Whereas venues that are a bit more out of the way may be slightly more forgiving when it comes to loud music in the early morning hours.
Considerations When Planning Your Wedding DJ
When planning your wedding DJ, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind to make sure everything runs smoothly, and you have the best night of your life.
Are They Acting As Toastmasters?
If you are expecting your DJ to announce the speeches, the first dance, and any other poignant events during the evening, you will want to make sure they are the DJ for the job.
Some DJs prefer to just spin their decks and play awesome music and really just aren’t very good at conversing with the crowd.
However, other DJs thrive off of this back and forth banter they can have with your wedding guests.
Getting reviews from other wedding couples who have employed the services of the DJs you are interested in is the best way of finding out whether a DJ possesses the skills you are looking for when it comes to your wedding entertainment.
Are You Also Have A Live Band or Singer?
If you just have a DJ as your only evening wedding entertainment, planning that portion of your day can be relatively simple.
However, if you have also booked a live band or even a wedding singer, you will need to work out which one goes first.
Many people tend to have their live entertainment in the first part of the evening, after the meals, and before everyone has had a little too much champagne.
This is because live entertainment is pricier than DJ, but it can be a lot more personal, and you don’t want to be too tipsy to remember or even enjoy your live entertainment.
Also, live entertainment performers tend not to want to perform right through the night, and this is where it can be more of a savvy choice to have your wedding DJ follow on from your live band or wedding singer.
How Long Is Your Wedding?
How long your wedding is will 100% determine how and when your DJ will play and for how long.
If you are having an early to late morning wedding, either you will have other forms of entertainment planned to fill that space between lunchtime and your evening reception, or maybe you are having to consider your guest’s travel and are having an earlier party.
If you are having a fairly late wedding, which may mean you are skipping a full sit-down meal and heading straight for the buffet, your DJ may either begin a lot later, or you may just be ready to hit the dance floor the minute you exit the chapel.
Can Your Wedding Venue Offer Advice On Timelines And DJs?
Specified wedding venues, such as wedding halls or properties that have been converted specifically to hold weddings, usually have lots of experience when it comes to planning a wedding evening and the music entertainment.
Many will be able to advise you on timelines that may have worked very well for weddings they have held before; they may even be open to telling you what hasn’t worked, so you know what to avoid.
One of the best things about hiring out a proper wedding venue is that they usually have their very own lists of recommended performers, DJs, caterers, and sometimes even photographers and videographers.
Ask your wedding venue if they can provide these lists for you to have a look over but don’t forget to do your own research.
Just because the wedding venue recommends them doesn’t mean you will like them.
However, recommended DJs from your wedding venue have probably played at your venue many times and will be incredibly comfortable with the setup, timelines, and layouts. Saving them, and you, lots of time and hassle.
Your choice of DJ and how long they play can be one of the toughest decisions when it comes to your wedding day, especially if they are your sole source of entertainment.
You want to make sure they play long enough to keep everyone entertained but not so long that everyone is sick of the disco lights and is ready to go home before the night has even finished.
How long your DJ plays and when they begin and finish will be entirely dependent on your chosen wedding timeline.
The best way to ensure you have the DJ for the job is to be completely transparent about how you want the day to go and then be open to listening to their recommendations. They are the professionals and have all the experience, after all.
But, there is a debate on whether you even need a DJ and if they are even worth it.
Those are certain considerations to take into account, so do check out my following guides if you are still on the fence:
- Is A Wedding DJ Worth It? [Should You Budget For This?]
- Do You Need A DJ At A Wedding? [Are There Alternatives?]
- How Many Songs Do You Need For A Wedding? [For The Full Day]
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!