Wedding DJs: To iPod Or Not to iPod

It’s no secret that Utah is the wedding capital of well, the world… Chances are if you’re reading this article you’re either planning on getting married yourself, or are helping a friend or loved one plan their wedding. Planning a wedding can be a crazy thing, especially without any help. Recent polls of newlywed couples are showing that one of the most important things that couples neglect to do when planning a wedding is taking adequate time to arrange the wedding entertainment. You might be surprised to find out that upwards of 80% of all wedding guests are saying that the thing they remember most about a wedding reception is the entertainment. While the bride and groom are the stars of the show, it’s clear that providing adequate entertainment for your guests is one of the best things you can do to put together and unforgettable wedding.

In looking for logical and economic ways to cut the costs of putting on a wedding, more and more couples are turning to iPod’s as the main source of entertainment at their weddings. Some reception centers have a PA system built into their venues making an iPod seem like an easy alternative to hiring a professional DJ. Many couples automatically think that hiring wedding DJs is going to be too expensive. Misguided wedding planners are even recommending turning to an iPods to save some money rather than hiring a professional wedding DJ. While initially this may sound like a great idea, here are some very important things to consider before deciding to go the do-it-yourself route with your wedding entertainment.

The first and perhaps most important job for a professional DJ is to play music that your guests are going to enjoy. Good Djs are able to read the crowd and play music that best fits the atmosphere you are trying to create, and appeals best to your guests. Let’s see an iPod on shuffle mode do that! The only real way of keeping a smooth flow of music going is by having a Dj who can react on the spot to the preferences of you and your wedding guests. Developing the skills necessary to read and react to a crowd isn’t a task that can be left to just anyone. Skilled professional DJ’s should have ample experience performing in front of crowds and have a good feel for what type of music to play within the first couple of minutes of being at your wedding. He needs to be able to “read the crowd” and select each song based on what the crowd will be most responsive to at any particular moment.

A DJs responsibility is to run the show. When a DJ is running the show that means that you don’t have to. A professional DJ is not afraid of speaking in front of large crowds and is able to gain “control” of a room. A DJ is not there to boss you and your guest around, but rather to keep the flow of events that are already happening going on. A professional DJ truly is the Master of Ceremonies for your entire event. An iPod can’t make announcements (at least not yet, check back with me tomorrow…) A DJ knows how to do such things as: handle your grand entrance introductions with appropriate music cued in the background, introduce the first dance and parents dances, announce the cake cutting, and set up the bouquet and garter toss. Do you really want to worry about those sort of things instead of thoroughly enjoying your special day?

Besides the professional skills a DJ has to offer, the person in charge of the music needs to have a very broad knowledge of music and experience playing all different types of genres. Simply listening to the radio or owning a lot of CDs does not qualify someone as having a broad knowledge of music. Unless you’re a music collector, chances are you don’t have a music library with big band swing, the latest international salsa hits, current pop music chart toppers, oldies, classic rock, hip hop and dance tracks along with everything in between. A professional DJ will have thousands of title selections and the ability to match the right type of music to your guests. Unless you want to subject your guests exclusively to your musical tastes, chances are you’ll probably have to buy some more music to better suit all of your guests. Do it yourself would have to spend hours on iTunes and hundreds of dollars on music to put together a playlist just to last long enough to cover the average reception. Once you get to that point all of the cost savings of deciding to use an iPod have been lost and you’re out several hours of your time.

Professional audio equipment is another important thing a DJ brings to your reception. Some reception centers have built in PA systems, however most of them are completely inadequate for the size of the venues in which they run. If your chosen venue doesn’t have a PA system, that leaves you with the responsibility of tracking down speakers, amplifiers, microphones, and mixers. Most wedding-sized PA systems that are available for rent run anywhere from $250 to $500 dollars per day, and that doesn’t even include set-up. Do you know the difference between a mini plug, an RCA plug, a quarter inch plug and an XLR plug? Once you’re able to track equipment down, in most cases you’ll need to provide a truck or van to lug all the equipment around. Are you starting to get the picture?

If planning and organizing all this is beginning to sound like just one big hassle, you’re right! Once rental fees and the hassle of putting together playlists and untangling raveled cables is tallied, hiring a professional DJ can end up being the more economical choice than even the do-it-yourself iPod approach. You’d definitely be better off hiring a professional. A professional DJ takes care of everything for you. Is it possible to do it all yourself? Sure it is, but after hearing about all the hassles involved who would really want to?