Featured in National Entertainer Magazine
Over the past year, there has been a new trend in magazines and online suggesting an inexpensive alternative to a DJ or band, your iPod. Pounding the positives of having complete control over your music play list and being able to add a personal touch, many brides are investigating this new trend.
Since no two weddings are the same, let’s look at an average wedding with 150 guests or so held in a local country club.
In some articles it has been suggested that it is easy to just plug your iPod into the venue’s overhead sound system. This is not a good idea. These systems are installed for conferences and are tuned for speeches, not music. To repair a system like this after it was damaged by loud music is extremely costly. If you are thinking a home stereo would work, think again. Home stereos are made for exactly that, your home. They are not equiped to play at a volume suitable for a medium to large audience and do not have the capability of a microphone.
You will need a professional PA system; you will find most music stores rent them. Look for one with speakers up on stands, a mixer, and a microphone on a stand. For a system that will accommodate 50-150 guests, rent will run between $400 and $600. This will not usually include delivery, setup, testing, teardown and return. Schlepping a PA system is not an easy task. You will need to choose one or two responsible people to perform these tasks. Also, since most venues will not allow you to leave the equipment overnight, be sure to have a vehicle that can accommodate the PA upon teardown at the end of your reception.
Lay out a timeline for the reception and set up play lists to match your timeline. Start with your grand entrance. Your "emcee" will need to get the guests attention and direct them to where you and your wedding party will be entering the room, then make the appropriate announcements. We now move to the cocktail and dinner music. For this section, go with a soft jazz set keeping the volume low so your guests can converse. Build up the music into a more "bubbly" set as you go into dinner to avoid putting people to sleep. Sometime around the end of dinner, an announcement needs to be made, depending on your timeline, in regards to the best man’s toast, the other toasts, and of course, the cake cutting.
Since most rental PAs have a wired mic system, toasts will need to be performed from the mic on the stand or podium. Your designated "emcee" needs to command the attention of the guests and bring the best man up to the mic. The best man or the "emcee" will then need to announce any other guests or family members performing a toast to come up to the microphone. Once the toasts are over, an announcement needs to be made for the cake cutting.
It’s not uncommon that one of your family or guests will try to take over the microphone. Your "emcee" needs to keep control of the mic. It is going to be hard for a family member or friend to tell a guest "no" when it comes to toasts or to know when the toasts become one too many, so you might wish to make a list of the only people you want giving toasts to avoid an embarrassing situation.
Opening up the dance floor is traditionally done with the bride and groom’s first dance and then the parents dances. Your "emcee" for the reception once again needs to command the attention of the guests and perform the announcement and hit the play button for the next play list, the First dance play list. This will be the list with "your" song, the song(s) for you and your parents to dance to, and if you wish, a bridal party song. After these important dances, it’s time to open the dance floor.
One of the main reasons the idea of having an iPod DJ a wedding came into play was to save money, the other was to be able to control what music gets played. You and your fiancée may be in love with a certain music artist or music style, but keep in mind that your guests may not share your passion. People tend to enjoy and dance to music they know, and your reception is not the right time to introduce them to something new and different. As strange as it may sound, your best bet in having a dance floor filled with people celebrating your wedding is to go with the old wedding standards to get them in the mood. Then you can throw in some of "your" music, tunes that they might not be that familiar with.
In creating your dancing play list, try to create sets of music that build in tempo to a peak and then drop down to a slow song. It’s hard to "read" what your guests want when preselecting all the music for the evening so try to set up play lists that will cover a wide selection of music genres. This gives your "emcee" or designated "iPod DJ" a chance to stop the music and change it to a different style if needed and create a flow to the dance floor while attempting to please all of your guests.
Choose your "emcee" carefully as they will need to not only be the voice of the reception, they will also need to handle the music and fix anything that goes wrong. You will need someone that is willing to give up celebrating with you and that is willing to dedicate themselves to the task and work the entire event without drinking too much.
That is your iPod wedding. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. Once again, we go back to the reasons it was suggested brides do an iPod wedding, saving money and controlling the music.
Let’s look at the first reason, saving money. Your out of the pocket expenses with an iPod wedding is $600 or more just for the PA rental, but you need to factor in your time locating the PA, picking the PA up, delivering the PA, any damage done to the PA while it is in your care, and your time to return the PA following the reception. Also factor in your time spent putting together your play lists, the purchasing of songs that you don’t have, etc. Not to mention finding the right "emcee" that can not only speak clearly on the mic, they also understand how to operate the PA and iPod. Since iPods are not always reliable, you might even want to have on hand a second iPod as a backup.
The second reason was to have control of the music. Let’s look at this a little closer. Is it because you only want a certain type of music, a certain artist, or definitely do not want a certain song or songs played? Now think of your guests and their musical tastes. Are they going to absolutely love all the music you love? Will Grandma jam to your "death metal"? Will that uncle from Wisconsin respect the playing of the Russian Cossack for dance music, you know the one you love to play in your car?
Not wanting to sway you too much from your iPod wedding dream, but let’s look at what an experienced wedding DJ or band can do for you. First off, price. After you factor in all the expenses and hassles of the PA system, a DJ could be about the same price. With a professional DJ though, you are getting a person whose business is the performing of music and emceeing at events and weddings. They have the right equipment and they know how to set it up and operate it. They set up before your guests arrive and teardown once the reception is over with. They most always carry backup equipment. They can provide you with a wireless mic so the toast can be performed at the head table, cake table, anywhere in the room. With a strong announcers voice, they command attention from the room while they announce the important events of the evening.
As for music. An experienced wedding DJ will meet with you and listen to you in regards to music. They will offer suggestions as they plan out the timeline for your reception. They will take and respect your "do not play" list and do their best to incorporate your special songs and music into the play list for the night. With thousands of songs to choose from, the right DJ can read what your guests want and change up the music to provide you with a non-stop celebration.
"Other perks of having an experienced wedding DJ include the fact that they work hand in hand with the other professionals involved. They will act as the conductor of the event, by setting the pace, connecting with the photographer, videographer and caterer for important events listed in your timeline and performing the announcements when everyone is ready", says Steve Gomez of N.A.M.E. (National Association of Mobile Entertainers), "Your photographer and videographer will not miss a moment, the caterer will know ahead of time when the toasts are going to happen, and that aunt you chose to cut up and serve the cake will know when she will need to leave the bar area to perform her service. This makes the evening relaxing and worry free for everyone involved." If you are looking for a professional DJ that can handle your wedding, you might look on the NAME member search website, www.locateadj.com.
You see it may be cute to have an iPod DJ your wedding, it may give you a sense of power over everything, but if you weigh all factors involved, you will see for this once in a lifetime event, "cute" may not always be the "best" choice and having an experienced, professional wedding DJ handle things for you will not only give you more time to spend with your guests, it will give you the piece of mind that your evening is in the hands of a person who cares about your wedding and will do everything it takes to make it a complete success.