Looking to start as a Wedding DJ but don’t know what you’ll need? Look no further.
In this guide, we show you the top 10 essential items you need to start your own Wedding DJ business.
There are so many things you could buy, but we will show you what you really need, hopefully saving you money!
Let’s get on to the Wedding DJ Equipment Checklist…
1. Turntables, CDJs or DJ Controller
The first item in the DJ checklist is the playout system, the equipment you will use to play your music from. There is actually a whole range of options for your playout, but we will cover the three most common. Assuming you are or will be a Mobile DJ, i.e. a DJ that is self-sufficient and transports their equipment to and from each venue, you will probably want to find a setup that is easy to move but still full of features.
Turntables – The original playout system: the turntables and mixer setup. It basically consists of two turntables (decks) and one mixer. The mixer controls the deck playing out to the crowd, the levels and any effects. Your headphones and microphone connect into the mixer, and the amplifier and/or speakers connect out of it.
I would suggest only using direct-drive turntables, as they are a more professional option, and are easier to work with, particularly if you plan to do any scratching.
The downside of turntables is that they are fairly large and bulky for moving regularly, they are delicate as they have moving parts, the stylus (cartridge) will require replacing fairly frequently and you will need to carry a large amount of vinyl records.
CDJs – As technology progressed, CDJs were introduced as a modern alternative to vinyl turntables. They are a bit smaller than turntables and use CDs, though you still need a mixer.
While you can use them purely with CDs, requiring a large CD library, you can also use them with DJ software, so the music used is stored on a computer or laptop. You often also have the option to plug in USB drives, so you can store music on them, which is much easier to carry, or have them as back-ups.
DJ Controller – My preferred option is the even more modern DJ controller. They are designed to simulate a CDJ – Mixer setup, but usually without CD drives. Much easier to transport and often lighter than the previous options, the DJ controller plugs straight into a laptop, out to your speakers, and any other devices can be plugged into it – headphones, microphones, CD players, even turntables!
Some DJ controllers don’t even require a laptop at all, as they can have CD drives, USB drive slots or other inputs, and they have a nice bright screen.
The majority of modern DJ setups involve a laptop of some description, whether for running the DJ software, controlling a lighting system or just as a backup. It is possible to DJ using just a laptop, but it is not something I would recommend for a professional wedding DJ.
Notice that I haven’t included a desktop PC – they are far from practical.
When choosing a DJ laptop it is one place not to go too cheap on. If it is where your main music library is and where you are running your DJ software, the last thing you need is a crash halfway through the first dance. I always use an Apple MacBook Pro, but a decent Windows 10 laptop can be just as good.
Specifications: I would opt for a Solid State Drive (SSD) of 512 GB or more, or a similar-sized Hard Disk Drive (HDD); 8GB RAM; a decent processor and graphics card running on a suitable screen size – 13-inch or more.
According to the Serato website, their minimum system requirements are:
- Operating System: macOS High Sierra 10.13 – or – Windows 10
- 64-bit only (32-bit operating systems not supported)
- Processor: i3: 1.07GHz
- Screen Resolution: 1280 x 720
- Memory: 4 GB
- USB: Available USB 2.0 port
Free HDD Space: 5 GB
There are two types of speakers used for DJing: Passive and Active. Passive speakers require an additional amplifier to power them, whereas Active (powered) speakers have built-in amps. Active speakers usually have other features and benefits, such as individual controls and inputs.
You may also want to consider a separate subwoofer or two, for a richer, fuller sound. It is not essential, especially if you will only play weddings, but perhaps something to plan for when your budget allows.
Whatever you decide, make sure that the speakers are powerful enough to reach the crowd numbers you plan to play for comfortably. They come in many shapes, sizes and configurations, and it is mainly down to personal choice.
There is so much to choose from when it comes to DJ lighting for weddings, and much of what we buy is unnecessary. As long as you have lighting that covers the dance floor area, flashes or moves around, you don’t need to spend that much.
My only tip would be to avoid anything with halogen bulbs – always buy LED lighting. It is so bright these days and they last years.
You can find packages suitable for DJ setups or buy what you want individually. There are also ready-made lighting bars that come all connected on a tripod.
5. Tripod Stands
Tripod stands are perfect for speakers and lights. You will need to make sure the speaker stands are compatible for the speakers – usually 35mm pole. They can be very cheap, just be aware they won’t last as long as the more expensive ones.
For the lights, I use a ‘T’ bar tripod so you can mount the lights on the horizontal bar, usually 2 – 4 per bar.
A DJ’s favourite tool is a microphone (probably). It allows you to talk to your audience and make introductions. This is especially useful at weddings to welcome the Bride and Groom onto the dancefloor.
I always have at least two microphones; a wireless one and a wired one. My primary microphone is wireless and can be used anywhere in the room which is really handy. A wired one is great for a backup.
Headphones enable you to listen to the mix before you play a track to your audience. The type you use is a personal preference. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot on them, as long as they are suitable.
Some DJs like big noise-isolating headphones, others like single-ear phones or even in-ear monitors (IEMs).
I carry two pairs, one as a backup.
8. Table or Deck Stand
Don’t underestimate a sturdy table when DJing. You cannot guarantee every wedding venue will have a suitable table so it is worth buying one.
The options in this category are a foldable table – for transporting – or some kind of Deck Stand. A table doesn’t look particularly professional for a wedding setting. You would need to cover it to hide cables.
A Deck Stand is designed for mobile DJs and looks much better. They often have the option to add a lighting bar too.
9. Sockets and Cables
You will definitely need a number of cables: an extension reel and a couple of multi-sockets to plug your equipment in, speaker cables, lighting cables, etc. The equipment will come with power cables, but you may need longer ones. Don’t forget spares.
10. Backup System
Plan for every situation: if any piece of equipment failed or broke down, could you still play the gig? Once you’re all set up, look at every item you have and decide if you need a backup – if you do, find a budget alternative that will see you through a night. You can always get the main equipment repaired or replaced before the next gig.
A Few Extras
There are a few other items to add to your kit that can come in handy;
- Gaffer Tape – to tape down cables on the floor
- Velcro Straps – for securing cables to the tripods
- Cart – for wheeling your equipment from your vehicle to the venue
- Tool Kit – just in case
- Torch/Table Lamp
- Notepad & Pen – for making notes and taking requests
- Equipment Cases and Covers
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Wedding DJ Equipment List;
- Turntables, CDJs, DJ Controller
- Tripod Stands
- Table or Deck Stand
- Sockets and Cables
- Backup system
A Mobile DJ is a type of DJ that is self-sufficient - they supply all their own equipment: Playout system, Speakers, Lights, Music, etc.
A Club DJ will normally only supply their own music playlist on either a laptop or memory stick/hard drive. They use the club's playout system, which is connected to speakers. The club will have its own lighting system too.
How long a DJ plays at a wedding varies but is usually decided by the Bride and Groom. The DJ could play music for the ceremony, welcome drinks, wedding breakfast (meal) and evening reception. Some DJs will only play music for the evening reception, which is around 5 hours, not including the setup and pack down times.
Choosing not to have a DJ at your wedding can save money, however, it can be hard work getting it right if you do want music.
A DJ will have a large selection of music. They will usually create a bespoke playlist based on the couple's requirements, make sure all the equipment is tested and working, and play the right music at the right time, often taking requests too.
A popular alternative is to hire a band or other live music.
It is possible to DJ using just a laptop. There is a range of DJ software that can be used with or without additional equipment. You will still need a way to plug your laptop into your DJ speakers, and if you want to play two or more tracks at the same time you will need an additional soundcard.
You can have some control using shortcuts on the laptop's keyboard, which are defined by the software itself.
Using a DJ Controller, Turntables or CDJs gives you more control and flexibility to mix your music.
A full Wedding DJ Equipment setup can range in price considerably, from $500 to more than $15,000. The good news is that you can start on a budget and upgrade items as you can afford to.
The key is finding the best you can afford, that will look good, is easy to set up in as short a time as possible and will fit in your vehicle. Try to build a symmetrical setup, as it looks better for your audience.