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How To DJ Your Wedding With An Ipod


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

How To DJ Your Wedding With An Ipod | A Practical Wedding

From day one we knew we were going to DJ our own wedding, mostly because we *could.* As far as we were concerned, ipod’s were a small gift from the wedding gods. Halfway through the planning process though, I started to get nervous about our ipod DJ plan. You see, David and I like to dance, or more precisely we like to daaaaaaaaaaaaannnncccceeee. If you’re playing dancing music, you will not be able to get me off the dance floor. The hora? Hip-hop? The electric slide? I’m there. Heck, I’ll do country line dances, and I’ll lead a dance floor full of people in a funky Macarana if I’m forced into it. So I started to get very concerned, because people said, without a DJ there is no flow, without a DJ there is no energy, without a DJ people will take over your play list, without a DJ you have to work at your own wedding.

In sum: without a DJ, no one will dance. And I believe the technical term for that story is Bullsh*t.

In fact, not only will everyone dance, but you’ll have the playlist for the rest of your lives (we re-lived our wedding a bit on the honeymoon by listening to our mix). But to calm your nerves I’m going to give you my best tips for DJing your own wedding. I’m far from an expert, so feel free to add your best tips in the comments.

  1. Amplification matters. If I had to pick one thing that makes the difference between a successful ipod dance party, and one that falls flat, it would be this. You need your music to be loud. We paid roughly $300 to rent a professional amplification system that we could run with our computer, and it was worth every penny. Weddings I’ve been to where the music wasn’t quite loud enough, well, I never lost myself in the music. And that’s what you need.
  2. Cross-fade, cross-fade, cross-fade. You can set up your itunes playlist to do this, and you should. Just like dance parties don’t like quiet music, they don’t like dead air. Also, if the song is endless (I’m looking at you Michael Jackson) feel free to cut out the last 8 minutes of vamping.
  3. Play music people know. I might be the only wedding blogger in the history of time that has ever admitted this, but David and I are *not* music snobs. David’s tastes run a bit towards more classic stuff, whether it’s jazz or rock. As for me, when it comes to the dance floor, I’m not above Beyonce. And love to dance to some Justin Timberlake, and I’m not even ashamed of that. So our playlist was a mix of Tina Turner, Sir-Mix-Alot, Nina Simone, the Black Eyed Peas, The Beatles, Lauren Hill, Frank Sinatra, House of Pain, and yes, Dolly Parton. And people stayed on the dance floor. You may have much better taste in music than I do. You may listen to bands that don’t even exist yet. But if you load up your playlist with tons of songs people don’t know at all, you’re going to send up with a rousing bar scene, but probably not with a packed dance floor.
  4. Play a mix of music for all ages. Yeah, you and I might like Arrested Development, but I’m pretty sure your granny likes Billie Holiday singing the standards, so mix it up.
  5. Think about the flow of your play-list. Cate of Project Subrosa made me think about this pre-wedding, with her talk of building it up, and easing it down, building it up higher, dropping it down, and then building it up into a frenzy right at the end. She was 100% right.
  6. Have a music guard. Guests don’t get to adjust the playlist, no, no, no. Make someone your music bouncer, and make them tough.
  7. That said, don’t be afraid to screw with your own playlist mid-stream. YOU can play with the playlist during the wedding. We had more music than we needed, so there were times when we skipped further down the list. We also got to a point in the afternoon where no one over 30 was dancing. You know what I said about mixing it up? Yeah. If you don’t dance, we don’t play Frank Sinatra. At that point in the day we skipped straight to the hip-hop set, and people sweat through their shirts. And let me just cut off the people who say, “See? If you DJ your wedding you have to WORK at your wedding!” We spend about as much time on our playlist as we would have spent chatting to the DJ about requests or timing. We knew our playlist backwards and forwards, and could adjust it with a flick of our fingers.
  8. And finally, don’t be afraid to pick a few emotional and obscure favorites. We ended our day with this medley Sam Cooke, and that was when I finally let go, tears streaming down my cheeks. How To DJ Your Wedding With An Ipod | A Practical WeddingOur friends might not have known the song before our wedding, but they sang with all their hearts in those last moments as they formed a circle around us, which throbbed with some of the most powerful love that I’ve ever felt. And you can’t buy that.How To DJ Your Wedding With An Ipod | A Practical Wedding

Pictures: First by Emily Takes Photos. Then, our wedding warrior and chief, the fabulous Kate , last byOne Love Photo (yay)

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12031934571261945172 Jessica Young

    Sam Cooke is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. Not sure how we'll handle the dj bit, but so glad you brought some Sam Cooke into my apartment on this blustery last day of September.

  • http://petitechablis.wordpress.com/ petitechablis

    Meg, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this. I am violently tired of seeing people tell couples that they will RUIN their wedding and no one will dance and everyone will be miserable if they try to DJ it themselves with an iPod. That's completely untrue. The key, as you've said, is a really good sound system, one that's going to be loud enough to get everyone on the dance floor.

  • Melissa

    Any chance you'll share the playlist with your loyal readers?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02567097973987043341 Lauren

    Our DJ was an MIT grad student, and, as such, was completely affordable, but I still wish I had felt confident enough to be my own Ipod DJ. Good for you- I'm jealous of your playlist!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07829467193486965326 Jess

    We'll be using our ipod as our DJ at our wedding next Saturday(actually our computer, iTunes, and DJ quipment) and I've been getting really nervous about it being a disaster. Thanks for the boost of confidence- I really needed this!

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    Yeah I really don't get the big stink about iPod-ing one's wedding. It's pretty easy and there's no reason it wouldn't work or make people dance or whatevs. We had a friend set ours up and he was a former radio DJ so he was suuuuuper into reading the crowd and enjoyed messing with the playlist accordingly. Zero work on our wedding day. Lots of dancing. I don't get why people are so skeptical!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12669256908862614726 Beth

    Woohoo, love this! My fiance and I just finished making our playlist…we're lucky enough to have a friend with access to great sound equipment, and I cannot WAIT to dance like crazy to all the awesome songs that I know are in store :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16294864366284434807 Rosalie

    It was hard work coming up with more than 10 hours of music and two different feels, one for afternoon tea and one for the evening but it was worth it and I totally recommend Ipod DJing. We played ours on honeymoon too, was great! We also had a space on rsvp cards for song requests which was great, people liked it and then during the day I noticed people saying hey this is our song.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh! I forgot to say! There is nothing quite like loving every song played at your wedding. I kept saying, "Oh my god I LOVE this song!" over and over at the wedding. And yeah, of course I did, I'd picked them!

    • Jenn

      We found something on Pinterest that we plan to incorporate a line on our RSVPs into the wedding that says to write their favorite song and mix those requests into the playlist so all our quests can say “Hey I love this song”

  • http://www.themaidenmetallurgist.com The Maiden Metallurgist

    We did it, it was cheap (cheap, hell, it was free!) and whatever hiccups there were I can't even recall.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07002438626643133563 Emily

    I'm in the same exact spot: 6 months out and I'm second guessing DJiPod. Thanks for the post and the one from The Flashdance earlier. Inspiring!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09197008991622181061 PrincessMax

    As someone who spent money on a band (that we loved), let me tell those who are nervous about an iPod that a great band still does not guarantee that people will dance. They dance based on a number of factors. I noticed that the most people danced when I danced. If the music is loud enough and people know the tune, it really doesn't matter the source.

  • Erica

    We're going to use our iPod for music for our wedding, and I must admit I've been more than a little nervous about it! This is exactly what I needed to hear. Now, I'm back to being excited about making our playlist again!

    Though, I have one question I'd like to throw out there to Team Practical. My fiance came up with the idea of buying a touchscreen and some jukebox software that allows our guests to request music and then cues the music up to play when it's time for the next song. Any thoughts on this? They'd only be allowed to make requests from the music we've loaded onto the software though, so we don't have to worry about people selecting songs we don't like. We're not shooting for a dance party vibe because my fiance doesn't really dance and I typically need more liquid courage than I plan on consuming on my wedding day to really shake it. We want there to be dancing, for sure, but really are shooting for more of a bar-like atmosphere where people are mixing and mingling and maybe singing along when their favorite song comes on. Thoughts?

  • Lindsey

    I have been going back and forth about this and while I would love to use the ipod DJ, when you factor in the cost of renting a sound system for us a DJ is not that much more expensive – maybe $500 for the night. So I still haven't made up my mind. Thanks for this information though, it definitely helps!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06303924392508581301 Christine

    That last picture of your feet while your dancing… your dress and shoes look amazing! Ha, I know that's not what this post was about, but still… looks great!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00986985706531785806 McNair

    You know what… I think all the DJs in the world started the rumor that people won't dance if you i-pod your wedding. ;) We're having a band because they're wonderful friends of ours and we LOVE the way they sound. But if we weren't having a band… I totally would be i-poding my wedding!

    • lindsay

      I searched “Ipod wedding dj” and the first site that popped up was “Why Using An IPOD to DJ Your Wedding is a Horrible Idea.” And…you guessed it…it was written by a professional wedding DJ!!!

  • vanessa

    We had an ipod reception and we DID NOT ruin our wedding. It was fantastic. I do agree that you need to rent a QUALITY sound system to supposrt your ipod though, otherwise you do have the potential that it will sound like crap (technically speaking). My friend (musician) manned the speakers and the mic and everyone had a great time. People made requests, dedications, shout outs, and people of all ages were up dancing. Towards the end of the night there was also freestyle rapping. We had Michael Jackson, Fergie, BeeGees, Lipps, Inc, The Electric slide, even a little Pitbull.

    A few of our friends brought their own ipods and contributed to the mix. We had our wedding on the river, and the sound carried so well we had wedding crashers. Boats that were passing by would slow down (or stop) to listen, and we had kids on rafts paddle over and show up on the beach. We were the talk of the town for weeks afterwards, and everyone wants my uncle to install speakers permanently in his gazebo on the river. LOL.

    I myself was the DJ for about an hour, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It also brought me back to my college radio show co-host days.

    Tell all the naysayers to F*ck off, you and your fiance are the onl ones that truly know whats best for YOU.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15452082852708707013 Peacock Feathers and Diamond Rings

    @Christine – I thought that!

    We had a DJ (and a band) because one friend is a DJ and our other friends put a band together and played 7 of our favourite songs. TBH, I can't really remember what the DJ played because we gave him more of a free reign (from a huge list of our favourite bands). It was very good though and people were dancing all night. Earlier in the evening we instructed him what to play during the meal and so on, which was more of an 'ipod play list'.

    If we hadn't had friends who could do the music for us, we would have used an ipod.

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    Oh also, I run to our dancing playlist now. Perfect rhythm for running and I like reliving it in half hour spurts every day (or every other day, ha!).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17630812969476483227 Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    Preaching to the choir lady – husband djed our wedding and it rocked the house. We chose our restaurant because it had an awesome sound system already and we could have even put in cds of our own music.

    My husband set up a freaking wireless network in our restaurant and controlled his laptop with his iphone. It worked beautifully and people were busting a move to hip-hop, salsa, and soul. I'm going to make him blog about it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Lindsey
    Here are my thoughts (for what they are worth). I think the best options are a really f*cking great DJ, or an ipod (or a band, but that's not one of your options). A mediocre DJ is just the worst (says the girl who's been to more than a few Bar Mitzvahs). So it all depends. If you can get a great DJ in your area for around the cost of renting a sound system, why not? In our very expensive area, I think it would have cost us a few grand to get a DJ I trusted enough to build a playlist without us. But, I'm picky.

    Just my two cents.

    Meg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00901177853918418064 qasiaraine

    For those pondering an Ipod wedding but wonder about the cost of sound equipment vs an actual DJ…check with your venue. Ours had sound equipment (nothing fancy or super professional…but it didn't need to be) and we were able to just plug our laptop into that and it turned out fantastic!!
    My husband did put an awful lot of time into picking out and arranging songs and playlists, so you do have to weigh whether your time or money is more important to you, but the end result was much better than any DJ I've ever heard.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03027269311743965491 Sara

    just another suggestion – we are also planning on having an iPod wedding, and on our invitations we asked people to request two different songs that they would like to hear at the wedding. We'll use as much as we can, (if they don't work as "dancing music" we can always play it during dinner), and it gave people some sort of input into our playlist since they can't make requests to a DJ. It was awesome to see some of the songs people picked (like my fiance's 65 year old step dad writing 'anything by the black eyed peas')!!!

    • http://avaluablewedding.blogspot.com/ Pamela

      Hey! You stole my idea! lol.
      But yeah, that’s what I’m planning on doing. Makes me so excited to even think about it. I think we’ll get the most eclectic delightful mix of music. I think I’ll ask for two to three or something, and tell them that of course me and my guy have veto power. I also will have a few restrictions based on our taste.

      Then I actually plan on including a sort of menu of songs in my program, and next to each song have the person or persons who suggested it. So all the guests are like included! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05750659066802561501 Erika

    Just listened to part of our wedding playlist on our one-year anniversary, dancing at a campsite under the stars, one earbud apiece. We really did the ipod thing to save money and get to pick all the songs; the relistening moments have been an unexpected perk!

  • Kirsten

    Thank you so much for this post. I am really tired of hearing that using an ipod will ruin your wedding. Our venue has a sound system already, so it works perfectly for us. I plan on setting up some very carefully thought out playlists for dinner and dancing. I will also ask for requests of the guests on my wedding website. I'm excited to have control over the music that gets played at my own wedding. I've never really been fond of DJ's anyway.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09719798812778250015 Nicole

    quit making me cry!!! beauty about people around you for your *last* dance.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    we ended up cutting an hour of music from our playlist, less than five minutes before we started dancing.

    which was good, because i didn't haev enough time for all that music. it was also good the music because very in the moment. and it was all alright.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12038539163583576117 Marian

    Thank you! Thank you! So far I've been planning to go the ipod dj route, but I have since been considering hiring a DJ because I get concerned about the flow. You have given me new faith in the Ipod DJ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15338552079938981996 theflashdance

    i don't think an ipod will ever come close to a performance by a real dj, just like a filter will never make a bad photograph good. that said, i have danced my face off to an ipod with my friends and i am REALLY snobby about music! if you know what you like, and KNOW that your friends and family will like it too (esp if everyone is like you meg!) then it shouldn't be too hard to do. Butttttttttt most people do not know what people actually want to dance to. there is nothing quite as good as being surprised or caught off guard by the right song at the right moment, likewise there is nothing quite as bad as the wrong song at the right moment!

  • http://rubyplease.blogspot.com Jamie Z

    Need another reason? You could have a family like mine where no matter the begging and pleading I did NO ONE danced except my 4 year old cousins ("NOOOO, look at all the people here." is the excuse I heard a lot). So our "dance" music became background music and the husband and I danced alone to Paul Anka's version of Smells like Teen Spirit. It was a blast and one of the greatest memories of the day. But you better believe that in the car afterwords we both were like, "Thank GOD we didn't waste $$ on a DJ."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12497562042019201312 Yiskah

    Let's see this playlist! Sounds cool! I thought I was the only one who still rocked out to Mr. Wendell!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @TheFlashdance
    Oh good, I was waiting for you to weigh in. I'm type A. I'm not going to lie about taking notes on songs I liked to dance to for a full year before the wedding. Also, the fact that I will dance my face off with almost no provocation helps. If the bride is tearing it up, it's hard for people not to dance.

    Also, we INSTRUCTED all of our friends that their key responsibility was to rush the dance floor. And they did.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06496768444775791868 Charise

    We thought about just using an ipod for the same reasons you did. We've been to self-DJ'd weddings that didn't turn out so well, and those that were great, so ya just never know. But, we ended up using a DJ because renting an amplification system around here was almost as expensive as the DJ we found. The DJ who is willing to play the ipod playlists we give him for the cocktail hour and dinner since we had very specific songs in mind for those, along with taking our very lengthy request and do not play lists for the rest of the night. We'll see how it goes in a few days! : )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00174894872050076618 Marie-Ève

    Oh that first picture…! And that dress… And those shoes… You're killing me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15436246498431231106 ladyspryte

    i haven't really checked in much since my wedding in february but wouldn't you know it, i do today and you still make me cry every time. here i thought i was done being inspired and then you remind me of how f-ing special those moments were at my wedding. it was perfect. ladies, do what you want. it will be awesome! because if you're here, your heart is in it. just live the moment and leave the rest…to love.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Meg! Thanks for this post! Good tips, especially on the fade out! We are DJing our own music with an iPod and have a friend who has the whole sound system, so although it's taken more time putting playlists together..it's been fun and we hope to boogie the night away next Saturday!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04246980175636237355 Theresa

    oops, how did that happen..I didn't want to be anonymous! P.S. we also did song requests on our RSVP cards, we wanted to include everyone's song requests, even country!

  • Anonymous

    Very good post.

    Are there DJ's who are willing to play the exact songs you want in the exact order you want them? In other words, it would be my playlist, but with a DJ executing it.

    People talk as if that could never happen.

  • http://lovelyandlucky.wordpress.com Allison

    It's funny, I'm not all that concerned with everyone dancing as I am about having lovely, soft music to shuffle to while in the arms of my new husband. I think that the dancing will be left for the afterparty when I'm in a short dress and drinking cheap cocktails!

    Thank you so much for these re-caps Meg, you always make me choke up a little which means I still have a heart!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05955067991628905693 Bookbag

    We hired a band for half the reception and iPodded the rest, and it was great. And I second the other people who point out that if the bride dances, so does everyone else. I was never alone out there. Having cute kids tearing it up on the dance floor didn't hurt either!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Allison
    Oh, honey, these aren't recaps, these are just facts. If you're choking up now, just wait till we talk about the wedding ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06912665327917655751 jehara

    we are using an ipod as well for the music. we are working on our playlist which will have music for each age group and tons of dance stuff. one of my good friends will act as emcee/dj so we don't have to worry about the music or flow. this post couldn't have come at a better time.
    and i will say again, the bottom of your dress looks so beautiful and spinny that i can't wait for the unveiling of the whole dress! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15103047512463828864 jamie

    those shoes *are* perfect.

  • sara-grey

    we used an ipod to dj our outdoor wedding this August and it was a serious hit! Our soundsystem was super loud and totally did the trick but we only paid about 40$ for a standard PA and two huge speakers from our local music store.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05098729708314853961 MWK

    Yes yes yes yes yes! And thanks for making me feel good about not being a music snob! We did our own iPod, downloaded the Billboard Top 100 from 1950-today and picked all the best ones that people would know and IT. WAS. AWESOME. When you have conservative Texans dancing their socks off next to your sweaty anarchist friends (to Mariah Carey, no less) you know you've done something right.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    We didn't do dancing but we do love music and every part of our day had a soundtrack. Every part of that soundtrack came from an ipod and it was fantastic. I've never understood why it would be anything BUT fantastic using an ipod and who would be as much of an arse as to meddle with the ipod at someone else's wedding??

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    Thank you Meg – That Sam Cooke song is SO good. We are planning on playing Ipod DJ's at our wedding and these tips are great.
    LOVE your blog so much. Thanks for being normal!!

  • http://www.chatterberries.com/ Chatterberries

    I guess this is one great idea of using an Ipod for the wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09082544337347129322 Amanda

    I am overjoyed that you posted this.

    I'm overjoyed that you have a blog.

    You make planning my wedding so much easier.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04186503079519108010 Ruthie

    Thank you for this post! We are doing the iPod DJ thing and this is a great reference. I am totally marking this for later when we actually build our playlist (although I'm already dropping songs I like into a playlist marked wedding!).

    We have a friend who's an out of work DJ (his boss, who owned all the equipment moved out of state) and he will be our DJ bouncer and take care of any other music issues.

    Totally saving this post for later!

  • http://urbanesse.com Michelle

    Ugh, Meg I freaking love oyu. Thank you for this post. We're going to do the same thing to save a few bucks and to have some artistic control, but I was worried about doing a good job. This rocks! thank you :D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02111123909212699733 April Elizabeth

    we are doing this at our wedding! On the invitations we are asking people to mail back requests on the RSVP card.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03209113339750185034 nina@mount pleasant wedding

    Thank you sooo much for this!! We had already planned to iPod our music. We went to friend's wedding a couple of weeks ago and she didn't have enough music on her playlist, so people started fiddling with the iPod. We decided to assign a guardian like you said–my younger cousin and a sign that says "Do NOT touch!!" I hadn't thought of the cross fading though–thanks for that!! My fiance has also called me anal-retentive–I've started a list already and we're not getting married till next August!

  • Anonymous

    This is GREAT advice, because I have been to "that" wedding – where there was the 3 second pause between each song where everyone stood there awkwardly, everyone was huddling around the computer messing with the playlist the bride and groom created, and would switch the song after 30 seconds of a song if they didn't like it…it was kind of disaster. I have given the advice to my friends who are doing it in the future – make sure NO ONE else can go near the computer, and make sure to do the fade thing.

    So truth be told – there have been some pretty bad weddings, but also I would hope that everyone can learn from those!

  • http://catherinejao.deviantart.com Cathie

    Thinking about iPod-ing my wedding too, but really nervous about it, since I don’t know how it’s supposed to go, and how much music to put in, and what kind of music? This is such a boost to the iPod idea though, I’m more excited to try and do it! Anyone has any tips on how long it’s supposed to be and how to make everything flow into each other? :)

  • HK

    i love what you said about music-snobbery. I went to a wedding recently where the bride and groom played only indie music- it was SO awkward. I could tell they were so disappointed during the reception, and actually started to walk from group to group asking guests to dance. I tried to oblige- but the music was awful and slow and picky guitars and the usual lot. I’m a firm believer that every wedding should have brick house played. HA!

  • http://aweddingofourown.blogspot.com Lindsey M

    This is sort of a late request, but how amazing would it be if all of the APW readers who did the whole iPod DJ-thing posted their playlists somewhere? That would be really helpful.

    • meg

      I so beat you to the punch on that idea, I’ve been thinking of that for awhile. I just… need… to…. find…. TIME to make this stuff happen :)

      • http://www.aweddingofourown.blogspot.com LIndsey M

        Any chance it will happen in the next couple weeks? Because I’m sure you have tons and tons of free time to get that done. :)
        I am selfishly asking this because our wedding is 5/29 and we are iPod DJ-ing it and it’s totally stressing me out. (can you hear my anxiety level rising? Scary, I am usually a calm person, I swear.) It’s that one detail that is just killing me.

        • meg

          Ha ha ha ha ha. No. Working 40 hours a week and another 20 on the site and… no. It’s going to take some major programming power, cash, and time. Go look on The Flashdance’s site already.

  • http://www.fleurageneve.blogspot.com Flower Star

    Oh, my!
    Thank you ever so much!!!
    We’re doing the laptop DJ stuff (a cross faded playlist adjusted to the different moods throughout the evening) and I loved your post! I’ve been told that this is madness but I know I’d be much more nervous if someone else was to be in charge of the music. You see I like things my way and I so want to go on saying I LOVE THIS SONG, I love this song! lol
    That said, I’m still a bit nervous. But I know it’s gonna turn out the party of a lifetime. Well, we can temper with the music any time! ;)

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  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    This is awesome! In fact this post alone pushed us over the edge in deciding to skip a DJ and ipod it ourselves…wish us luck!

  • Katy

    Thanks for all the info, Meg!

    Since my fiance is a musician, we’re selecting our music ourselves and putting it on an iPod. Our reception is pretty short – just two hours – which made us decide to get a DJ to keep the evening on schedule. A friend of a friend is bringing speakers, etc. and agreed to follow our (detailed) playlist, script, and schedule for the evening. We’re paying $300, which is a bargain and lets us put more money to food!

  • Sandy

    As someone who tried to set up a great playlist for their wedding, I have a different story than most of you – after attending some really great weddings and some not so good, and gathering lots of tips and suggestions from the internet we really thought we were ready to put together a smashing playlist for our reception!

    We were so wrong and disappointed that we chose to go this route. Sure some people danced, we danced, it was some of our music after all, but what we missed was the dynamic feel – things changed from moment to moment; when we actually ended up toasting turned out to be 30 minutes later than we had originally thought, we decided to hold off on our first dance till later too and on top of that our playlist wasn’t really up to making the changes for all our wrong guesses about timing of how many fast to slow songs, style of music etc.

    We misjudged the success of certain types of music – too much country and classics not enough top 40 and hip hop – at least for my friends :). Anyway, the bottom line for us was that we thought we were prepared, knew what we were doing and ended up failing miserably – just like all those “Wedding DJs'” said we would – the same ones everyone here are complaining about. Was it OK, sure, was it really great….No. All night long, instead of focusing our attention on each other and our friends we were worried about how to change the music to fix our reception – argh!

    We’re now convinced, with all the money we spent on our wedding, the couple of hundred bucks more for a really good dj would have been well worth the cost – but that’s just our take on it.

    • Kelly

      I have to agree with everything Sandy just said. Having an ipod be our DJ at our wedding was a huge mistake. I would have paid a few hundred bucks for that problem to GO AWAY. And we were on a super budget.
      1. Our ipod crashed. Just crashed. We had to use someone else’s with no playlist. Nightmare.
      2. The room where the ipod was plugged in, was in a different room. No one wanted to be a “guard” because they would literally NOT be at the party.
      3. Who turns the music down when someone wants to make a toast? Yeah. No one. I should have PAID someone to stand over the ipod in the consol room.
      4. I was stressed the f*ck out the entire time. People were getting drunk and changing the song in the middle of the song when everyone finally got dancing. The ipod we eventually had to use was lame music. People were complaining to me all night about it. It was a disaster. REALLY think about this and make sure you have a few things:
      1. A backup ipod! Or a backup computer!
      2. If the ipod is in the room, make someone watch it. If the ipod hook up is in another room, think about getting a DJ. Seriously.

      • meg

        See in the post how I said you need to have an ipod guard, and someone in charge of turning it down for toasts and not letting people mess with songs? You do. It’s your wedding, if you try to be in charge on the day of, it’s not going to be pretty. If you delegate and trust the people you delegate it will be JUST FINE.

        And yes, test your technology and always have several backups. We had our playlist on two computers and two ipods, in case there were any problems. So we had three backups, and all was well.

    • meg

      Ah, and also, you need to have about twice the amount of music you think you need, broken out by type and flow. We skipped around. If things lagged, we just jumped to a heavy dance section of the playlist, or an oldies section. We also know what we like to dance to, and what our people like to dance to… this is KEY. Pay a whole lot of attention to this at the parties you go to and who is dancing to what, before you build your playlist.

      This is a totally manageable thing, and no one should worry about failing. But you do need to be REALLY prepared, with extra music, someone in charge, and lots and lots of thought.

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  • margiemive

    We took all of this advice, and we worked so hard on our playlist. We had backup PCs and rented sound equipment and edited songs for length and designated a friend to be in charge of it…

    … and it really didn’t work out. It was okay, but the sound was really bad and not for lack of trying. The sound equipment we rented had the wrong kind of cables and you couldn’t really hear the vocals. And six months out, relatives still like to tell me that the music failed because we were “too intellectual.” (Eff that noise, we may be intellectual about music, but we were studious about including top 40 hits and classics, etc.)

    In retrospect, I would have preferred a good DJ. But also in retrospect, no DJ would be better than hearing the sheer glee in my perpetually anxious father’s voice when he announced that the sound equipment only cost $150. Oh my, that pleased him so much!

    So the music didn’t work out that well. I still have a picture of my college friends dancing barefoot. My dad and I had the most unbelievable dance. My husband did “The Geoff” – his signature, seizure dance move. Everyone did The Geoff. When the words went out on the songs, everyone sang along. Then they retreated to the bar. It was still a rocking party.

    • Steph

      Hahaha!! Good story! I love how you were able to end with, “Meh, in retrospect, a DJ may have been good, but it was still an awesome party”! Waay better than the dooms-day “YOU WILL REGRET NOT HAVING A DJ” advice from others. Thanks for keeping it in persepctive :)

  • Alexandra

    Good info. I’ll echo an earlier question that wasn’t answered–we have a lot of “must play” and some “must NOT play” songs, and it is implied in several places that DJs do their own thing and don’t accept super-scripted playlist options.
    Anyone know for sure?

  • Hoppy Bunny

    For those of us who are *technologically impaired*, could someone please explain how to cross-fade in itunes? I have never seen this option before (but I admit, I am a little scared of my itunes, so that might be why).

    ALSO: does cross-fading fix the problem of some songs on your playlist being much, much louder or more quiet than the previous songs? Cuz I hate that and would love a solution other than manually adjusting the volume every time it happens.

    Thanks!!

    • Hoppy Bunny

      OMG it is so easy. Nevermind.

      In case anyone else wants to know:

      itunes>preferences>playback>crossfade

      Bam.

      Oh, and soundcheck fixes the loud song/ quiet song issue apparently.

      New lease on life? Yes. My car is gonna be a disco party now.

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  • Miranda

    Currently working furiously on my playlist; great post, but a few broken links :(

    What was the Sam Cooke song? YouTube won’t tell me.

    And what was the advice from Project Subrosa? That blog seems to be invite only… I’m about to start taking a huge list of songs and ordering them — any tips on that?

  • http://www.downsized76.wordpress.com tina

    Imagine my surprise when I come across this blog post as I research ideas for my own wedding (October 2012) and see a reference to my fiance in your post. My future husband created the “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet” tee for Threadless!

  • Steph

    AWESOME!!! My husband to be and I are actually doing this same method and, to be honest, I was the one who was starting to get cold feet (our wedding is in April, so I know it’s getting a bit close to be switching everything up right now with a DJ). I started to read all of these blogs about how DJ’s were masters at the skill of “crowd-reading,” how no one would dance, how the whole reception would be ruined because no one would be keeping track, blah, blah, blah. Well, all that crap being said..THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!! I am COMPLETELY at ease now and know that we’re going to have a blast at our reception. Again, THANK YOU! :)

  • Nicole

    My husband and I did this at our wedding three weeks ago, and it was FANTASTIC!

    It was free for us, because our church had a set of two speakers and an old sound board that we could borrow free of charge. The only cost to us was a cheap adapter to let the iPod plug on – which we donated afterwards.

    We asked my cousin to ‘DJ’ for the important events. He and his brother ran around to check timing with us and announced the wedding party, the cutting of the pie (we didn’t have cake), and our first dance.

    We had two wedding playlists to make it easier – one filled with slow quiet stuff for dinner, then our ‘dance’ list which started out with our mother/son/father/daughter dance and then our first dance, then went into full out dance mode.

    The best part was building the playlist, though. The week I got engaged, I started a google spreadsheet called ‘Nicole’s Wedding Playlist’ and threw the link out to dozens of friends. They gave me names of songs and artists – and the best part is, every song on that list was a song someone had! A few weeks before the wedding everyone sent me files in Dropbox and my fiance and I spent time arranging the ones we liked into a playlist – supplemented by a few favorites of our own and some I’d gotten from the library.

    We were careful to do a mix of upbeat and slow (a surprise: Etta James’ ‘At Last’, the 5th or so song up, is what packed the dance floor out) and to always do something irresistable after a slow section (there are songs that just require being on a dance floor. Electric Slide. Shout. Any version of twisting. Single Ladies. You get the idea).

    Our dance floor was never empty, and had some serious surprises. My grandmother got into it in a way that I never would have guessed!

    The best part was slipping in songs that are not great for dancing, but that had special meaning for certain guests. The whole room burst into song for ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, and a group of long-distance friends managed to drown everything else out singing Chicago’s ‘When Your Good to Mama’.

    And because it was a ‘crowdsourced’ playlist, there was something for everyone!

    I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s one of my favorite memories from my wedding.

    In fact, it went so well that the waitresses at our venue asked for my cousin’s phone number so they could call him to DJ things in the future!

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  • Tom

    This is really helpful and uplifting. My fiancee and I are debating the music question now for our wedding coming up, and are curious if anyone has advice about how to select a sound system/speakers to rent that will be loud enough to fill the room. We’re celebrating with approximately 250 guests in an old wood-paneled community hall-type room. The wedding is where my fiancee grew up, but we live far away and will probably need to commit to the sound system before having a chance to test the volume in person. Any ideas? Thanks!

  • Chris

    I’m going to weigh in. I’m a professional DJ (Don’t tune me out just yet ;) ), and I might be able to bring another perspective.

    If all you want is music, then this might work out. There isn’t any reason that you can’t rent your own equipment and prepare your own playlist. There really isn’t. You will probably get people dancing as well. If that’s what you want for your wedding, you won’t hear me complaining.

    I’m also not ignorant enough to believe that all dj’s are good. I’ve met plenty that aren’t. In fact, most of the DJ’s I’ve met aren’t much better than iPods with rented sound systems. And that gives the professionals a really bad name.

    On the other hand, if you are able to find a real professional, you will have a completely different experience. A DJ is much more than a living Jukebox. They should control the flow of the evening. They should direct attention to where it needs to be. They should entertain as much, or as little as needed to keep things interesting. They should take all of the stress off of the Bride and Groom (and family and friends) to make sure that things run smoothly. We do this for a living and have the experience to know what to do if something does go wrong or unplanned. Our job is to make the night go as the Bride & Groom want. You usually have to pay a bit more, but you’re paying for peace of mind, experience, and a well rounded night, not just music. Again, if you were just wanting to for music, don’t get a DJ, you don’t need one.

    As an example, a close friend of mine opted to not have a DJ at their wedding. The mother of the bride missed her daughter walking down the aisle because she was trying to get the sound system to work. I know that’s an extreme example, but I’ve heard similar stories elsewhere.

    Again, there are definitely weddings where and iPod would work fantastically, but there isn’t a wedding out there (in my biased opinion) that would be worse off for having a professional DJ. The only exception would be an open house, having a DJ just wouldn’t fit.

    I hope I haven’t offended anyone in writing this. I just wanted to bring a little perspective from the enemy. ;)

  • Kyle

    Good article. I’m a hobbyist DJ. I consider myself a hobbyist because I DJ for enjoyment not profit, and only for friends or acquaintances, and I only do 1-2 wedding per year. I also undercharge and thought it was a little humorous that I charged ~$150 for my sister-in-laws wedding in 2010 however the equipment rental was more than that from this article.

    My take away from the articles and comments is there are some people who won’t do a good job at DJ’ing their own wedding and some who will and some who will just get lucky and not have a failure with equipment during the event. There are risks with “pro DJ’s” too who aren’t following good DJ practices.

    Another article about how to hire a good DJ if you don’t have the desire to DJ your own wedding would be good. How to interview the DJ, seeing what their services entail, are they doing anything to make the event special/memorable, etc… DJ’s tend to focus on their equipment, but that by itself doesn’t make a good DJ or not.

  • Martha

    Hi! I am so excited to try this at my wedding in 2 weeks (I read it a while ago after I had already started a playlist even earlier-in case you were worried that I was taking on too much right before the wedding. ha). In making our playlist, I have found a helpful site and thought I would share:

    http://www.mobilebeat.com/top-200/

    It is a list of the top 200 songs requested to DJs in the past year. If you are struggling to find songs that everybody will like, this list really hits the nail on the head. I guess we’ll see how it works in only 14 days!

    Good luck to any other brides who are doing this! :)

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  • Laura

    I really want to do this at my wedding! I dont want a horrible DJ with cheesy lines and horrible choices! I want to set up a personal mix that means something to both of us! Did you have a microphone aswell so that your first dance could be announced or did you just dance!? Thank you for this blog post, its made me feel better now that I know other people have done it! And some helpful tips to! :)

    • Chris

      Laura,

      I would recommend a DJ every time, hands down. The key thing is just to let the DJ know what you want. My clients let me know all their requests, what to play and what NOT to play, how they want the energy of the party to go, how much they want me to interact with guests, etc. I’ve had people specifically write “no cheese” on their forms. The right DJ will do exactly what you ask.

      The DJ can also do many things the iPod cannot. The iPod can’t introduce the bridal party, walk the wireless mic over to the best man for the toast, call the bride and father up for their dance, coordinate with other vendors (caterer, photographer, etc). All one can do with an iPod is just pick songs to play in the exact order, and if lucky enough to have a program that blends one one into another may do a marginal job at best. The iPod lacks all the skill and on-the-spot decision making abilities a professional DJ who works at weddings on a weekly basis does.

      And what happens if the equipment goes down? A DJ has a backup system, and probably an on-call person if he needs help. If the iPod or rented equipment goes down, what happens to the music at the reception?

      All these are things to think about.

  • http://thehottoddiesofwa.blogspot.com/ Marriah

    I am so glad that I found this! This is a HUGE stress reliver, thank you!

  • Nicole

    Thank you so much! I thought about an IPOD wedding then I was worried how I would do this & that but you’ve convinced me that it will be alright. I am renting sound equipment but its way less then an HOUR at a dj rate. My whole wedding has been a camo budget wedding! & this part is a MAJOR budget cut for it! Thank you for giving me hope that it can go the way I would like it too :)

    • Chris

      I would recommend a DJ every time, hands down. The key thing is just to let the DJ know what you want. My clients let me know all their requests, what to play and what NOT to play, how they want the energy of the party to go, how much they want me to interact with guests, etc. I’ve had people specifically write “no cheese” on their forms. The right DJ will do exactly what you ask.

      The DJ can also do many things the iPod cannot. The iPod can’t introduce the bridal party, walk the wireless mic over to the best man for the toast, call the bride and father up for their dance, coordinate with other vendors (caterer, photographer, etc). All one can do with an iPod is just pick songs to play in the exact order, and if lucky enough to have a program that blends one one into another may do a marginal job at best. The iPod lacks all the skill and on-the-spot decision making abilities a professional DJ who works at weddings on a weekly basis does.

      And what happens if the equipment goes down? A DJ has a backup system, and probably an on-call person if he needs help. If the iPod or rented equipment goes down, what happens to the music at the reception?

      All these are things to think about.

  • Brent

    Interesting article but also alarming? would wedding couples 100% trust an ipod to provide all their wedding tunes? it may seem cost effective than hiring a Good DJ with decent equipment who would plan the songs with you and can tailor better songs that work for the cake cutting etc

    The good DJ can also make announcements, play special dedications and can antipated what is working on the dance floor and what’s not.

    For a wedding you need to have your favourite songs played but also need to think what songs your guests will enjoy. You may have a cross range of aged groups as your guests would the young children be satisfied or uncle Arthur(whose in his 70’s) like your pre-programmed ipod list? even if you change songs during the reception there will be interuptions and silence.

    The ipod and jukeboxes have their uses but for wedding or that professional event please get a good DJ or band? if your ipod malfunctions during your bridal waltz or plays the wrong song you will be screaming. Put in ipod dJ in youtube and watch all the failed weddings lol.

  • http://www.onlyoldiesinc.com George Panzitta

    You didn’t mention the how to introduce the wedding party, first dance, cutting the cake, mother son/father daughter dance. Did you do that yourself? Did you ever see dancing on clouds? Where were the wireless first toast given from? No dance lights , video montages? How about the flow? you cut out the Dj, but left out the real talent you really pay for in an excellent Mc. Bet you never heard of the “Love Story” told to music or did the ever popular “newlywed game” These are the real package deals that most brides wont miss out on.

    • Ariel

      I don’t want any of those things at my wedding. Why would we want to play a game (are you referring to the one with shoes?) when we could be DANCING?

      • Chris

        Ariel the DJ will do whatever you ask. I do it all the time with my clients. If they say just play music all night, I’ll do exactly that and keep the dance floor packed regardless. The iPod has no ability to manage the energy of the party like a DJ does. An iPod can’t change songs if something doesn’t work, can’t beat mix, can’t transition songs as well as a DJ, and can’t do lots of other things a DJ can. And even if the DJ isn’t playing games and what not, he still does a lot of work (even behind the scenes) coordinating your wedding.

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  • Risa

    Can anyone give recommendations on what software I could use to create a DJ mix? Something to edit the songs slightly for transitions between songs.

    • Caroline

      I think most people just use iTunes.

  • http://www.weddingspartiesanything.com.au/ Joe

    I think having an iPod instead of a DJ is great at birthday functions and other events, but not at weddings. The bride and groom have enough things to worry about on the day.

  • Chris

    I think what people overlook here is how important a real DJ is at a wedding. People mistakingly look at DJs as a commodity by thinking they all do the same thing, and do nothing but play music. NOT TRUE AT ALL!

    The DJ fulfills the role as emcee for the event. iPods can’t introduce your bridal party, coordinate formal dances, speechws, etc.

    The DJ plays a pivotal role in event coordination. An iPod can’t coordinate the evening with your caterer, photographer, videographer, and other vendors.

    There’s a HUGE difference betweena DJ mixing, and an automated cross fade in iTunes. It’s the difference between smooth transitions between songs, versus it sounding like a train wreck. The DJ uses talent and experience to fill the dance floor. Tell me how an iPod knows when to change up music at the appropriate times. The answer is: it doesn’t.

    Also what happens if a piece of equipment goes down? Is the bride and groom going to pack spares, or hace an on-call emergency person for assistance? Most likely no. If your computer, iPod, or rented PA equipment (which people borrow and abuse since it’s not their own) does your reception recover.

    Lastly, why would you want to put all that work into a day you shoul enjoy? In my 20 years of experience in the wedding industry, I find the most successful events to be the ones in which the bride hands the keys over to th DJ snd lets him do his thing. The more controlled and regimented the event, the more likely something will go wrong. Again, thats just an observation.

    My advice to those planning a wedding: take good advice from people who work at weddings regularly and know the business, lose the iPods, and hire a DJ or band.

  • Chris

    With the advent of such technology came the “everyone’s a DJ” concept which contributed to people looking a DJs as a commodity. People seem to think all DJs do the same thing, and do nothing more that play music. NOT TRUE AT ALL! I have to strongly caution those considering the “iPod DJ” route for weddings, and provide some things to consider

    The DJ plays a pivotal role and does quite a bit of work and at a reception, much of which nobody ever sees or knows about. He fulfills the role of emcee at a wedding, coordinates with the caterer and other vendors, manages activities and formalities during the reception, manages other behind-the-scenes activities, and of courses manages the flow and energy of the party. An iPod can’t introduce the bridal party, coordinate speeches, make special announcements, make ad hoc changes, make sure the photographer is ready to capture the shot BEFORE the cake cutting, work with the caterer in conjunction with their dinner service and formalities, and so many other things a DJ does at a wedding. Even if many or all the formalities get omitted from the reception, you still have an experienced professional managing the helm. The DJ does much more than an iPod ever will.

    Programming a playlist might ensure you get to hear the songs you want in the order you want them, but does not replace the human element or artistic quality of a DJ. The DJ will not only play your songs, but also transition between songs without sounding robotic, preprogrammed, or like a train wreck. A DJ with a lot of experience has probably been beat matching and mixing long before the digital music era. And how does an iPod know when to change the music at the appropriate times if needed? It only knows what someone programs it to do. The iPod does not have the flexibility to manage music the same way as a DJ does.

    Also what happens and who is there to support you if your iPod or rented equipment stops working? Do you have a backup? Do you have an on-call emergency person to come out? Please remember this rented equipment gets used and abused regularly. A professional DJ will usually have backup equipment on hand, and probably a on-call person if something fails catastrophically so that the reception does not go down for the night. If your rented equipment goes down, are you willing to take the risk of no music for the remainder of the reception, one of the most important events in your life?

    Lastly do you really want to do all that work on your wedding day? I appreciate the enthusiasm brides have in planning a wedding, but there comes a point in which being too controlling becomes a detriment to the party and not an asset. Ask your self if you’re there to have fun, or to run the reception? Sometimes it’s just better to let the DJ know what you want for your event, give him the keys, and let him do his thing. In fact I find weddings most successful when they are less regimented and restricted. All that worrying does nothing more than add more anxiety to an already anxious time. Forgive me for being so blunt, but your DJ most likely has been to many more weddings than you have, has tons more experience than you do, and knows intuitively from experience what works at events. Your iPod does not.

    I work in IT and have experience with various software and equipment. With that said, I would still hire a DJ every time.

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  • Alex

    Hi, we are doing our own music at our wedding in October (2013). We are using Spotify (you can download the playlist to be offline if you have a premium account = no purchasing music.) What I need to know is what exactly is considered a “professional speaker system” and where should you go to rent this? We have a friend who has two 80 watt Harbinger speakers in approx 18 x 13 x 10″ cabinets, plus a mixer, speaker cables and microphone. I need to know whether or not this will give us the amps we need to have the music loud enough and of high enough quality. Specifics would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  • Madeleine

    Someone asked a while ago your playlist would be made available – is it anywhere?

  • Melynda

    I plan on trying this for my wedding. We are only having 100 guests and it is on a party boat. There will also be a party going on down stairs at the same time as the reception so we are all planning on crashing it (that was recommended by the boats wedding planner). Why waist money when there is a band and party downstairs. And I know my guests they are going to mingle with the other party regardless.

  • Amber Smith

    I think the wedding DJ’s need to chill out a bit, haha. Of course you’re feeling defensive of your field, and we all recognize that a DJ does more than hit “play”. Sure, in an ideal world, we could all afford DJs and they would all be professional, but that’s not what’s going on. We’ve all been to weddings with DJ’s that were atrocious, and weddings with amazing DJ’s that controlled the flow of the night in an amazing way. We aren’t talking about the choice between DJ or no DJ here, this article is “so you’ve decided no DJ, here are some tips so you don’t suck at it.”
    Weddings don’t necessarily need to be a huge night club style event with the whole 9 yards. I’m currently planning an intimate (40 people) wedding in a small location. The space is so small, I don’t know how we would even fit a DJ table in there without being overwhelming and demanding all the attention. And as far as money goes-a decent DJ in my area would be 10% of my budget, and in order to afford one I’d have to cut in areas I’m not willing to cut from like food or location or photography.
    Some people choose to not have a cake. Some people choose to not have flowers. Some people choose to wear pants instead of a gown. And whether you like it or not, some people choose to not have a DJ. And for those people, we all really appreciate articles like this.

    • Dylan Urquhart

      I think if you are choosing to have no DJ, you aren’t really having a party atmosphere wedding. Fair enough if you want the night’s atmosphere to plateau and have everyone talking for the night with no dancing. I’ve been at some weddings with no DJ and the night felt like we were just having drinks at a friends house. I know many brides want their wedding to be memorable, so if they are ok with a chilled out wedding with minimal entertainment options, go for it.

      Just to make a point, you mentioned that a DJ would be 10% of your budget if it was your wedding? I think you underestimate how important it is to have a good DJ. I’ve been to plenty of iPod weddings and they all start out ok, but end with the bridesmaids skipping all the songs halfway through (“OMG play Spice Girls babe!!” kinda stuff), and the majority of people not having a good time.

      If you choose no cake, or no flowers, thats ok because that doesn’t have a major impact on the atmosphere of the night for all of your guests. The entertainment aspect of the night lies purely with the MC, Speeches and the DJ. If you kill off any three of these, you are setting yourself up for one boring night.

      • LdyAce

        Having a DJ doesn’t mean there isn’t a party atmosphere. I have been to weddings without DJs that turned out great and it still felt like a party. I think you are basically giving DJs more importance than they really are, but in all honesty its not up to you to decide whats important or not to people for their wedding. If a cake is more important than a DJ to them then so be it. It is an opinion. Do not try to tell someone that they are wrong in thinking a DJ is not important, just because it is important for you does not mean it is important for anyone else. Just because there is no DJ does not mean you cannot have speeches or an MC. Wedding party members can be the MC and speeches don’t need a microphone if that is what you are getting at. Especially if you are having a small wedding.

        • Dylan

          Isn’t that the point of having an opinion @disqus_4sJWKQWS78:disqus? I have no problem if people want to do it their way. I just think its a risky decision.

          I understand small weddings often don’t require a DJ, as they don’t have the same atmosphere as the larger weddings. But the point still lies, who controls the music?

          Nobody is wrong in their choice of not having a DJ at their wedding. It is simply my opinion that many people think the budget option of having an iPod with their own music will do can be a risky choice.

          Also, one major point to note. What happens if there are issues with the sound system or iPod during the night? Many DJ’s have backup speakers or smaller systems in case anything goes wrong.

          • LdyAce

            OK but DJS are not always the way to go…… If you learn how to work your equipment rental right or better yet have a friend that has equipment there usually aren’t any problems.

          • Tovah

            I think you are thinking about this from a viewpoint of privileged people. Weddings in our recent past, have rivalled some of the hottest celebrity weddings. Luxury is the name of that game. And there is nothing wrong with that. In a wedding industry that pushes the “right dress” (at an average price of $1000), the “right flowers”, the “right decorations”, the “right” centrepieces…. the “right” DJ, it’s refreshing to see more DIYers. The idea is that if any of these things aren’t as good or better than your friends, then you are somehow lesser than they are. This mindset is very troubling. We see it permeate into all kinds of areas, including people’s self worth and self value. But that’s another issue. The point is, a DJ is fine for those who want to indulge and have a lavish and traditional wedding. But for those who are embracing the hipster kind of thing, or the hippy thing, or just the casual thing, a DJ is an unnecessary expense. Can things go wrong? Sure. But that’s kind of part of the fun. It make a funny story. People are creative. In a world of Pinterest and DIY brides, wedding DJs that take 10% of the budget is an unnecessary expense. That money could be put towards more lighting for your outdoor garden wedding. Or maybe a more talented photographer, who studied photography and graphic design. In today’s new world, couples are choosing things that represent them as a couple and as individual people (Dr. Who themed wedding anyone?). Today’s couples are choosing more personal gatherings, rather than impersonal club vibes. And those couples are just as important as the couples who want the best of everything! <3 (From a bride who is creating her wedding playlist to play at her destination wedding in Jamaica, with an intimate reception on the beach using an ipod and speakers)

      • Tee

        I think you highly underestimate guests love of cake.

  • Becky

    Awesome shirt! I bought it for my nephew for Christmas. So cool!

  • Molly Beatrice

    I can’t find that post from Project Subrosa! I remember reading it some time ago, and would love to reference it again. Is there a place it is archived? Many thanks!

  • WaltzDreams

    Sounds like you guys have great taste in music. I hope we can do something similar at our wedding. Thanks for the tip on the Google spreadsheet; I would not have thought of that. :)

  • Dylan Urquhart

    Great points made. Totally agree. Also many underestimate the stupidity of drunk people. All it takes is one drunk person to take over the iPod and then you have one annoying night of half played songs and interruptions!

  • Trevor Ng

    Thank you! :) you make me feel more confident with my own wedding!

  • Tom

    An iPod replacing a DJ…really? This article actually made me laugh. When your guests look back at your wedding day, they will remember the disaster you created for yourself by eliminating someone to lead the event. I see some of these posts, and, I’m sure many who have tried this, saw their receptions clear out almost immediately following the dinner hour. Those of you who have are planning to do this, think twice, and then, think twice again, then, when you’re done with that thought process, call a professional entertainer. You are cutting out the MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

    • Alicia Zepp

      Wrong. You just have a friend or family member do that part. Your comment made me laugh. Why pay a stranger when its more meaningfull coming from someone you know? Our friends did this and there wedding was wonderful. They just rented the equipment, made a playlist & put a friend in charge of all the announcing. They were also there iPod bouncers for the night to keep other people from messing with stuff. Plus they had music all night instead of a DJ leaving at midnight or 1 am or whenever. Backyard wedding we danced until the wee hours. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to & we are doing the same thing for our wedding.

      • PJ

        Hell yes! I have a Mistress of Ceremonies, who is one of my closest and oldest friends and I can’t imagine having a stranger doing that for me. We are getting married in Thailand I really don’t fancy using the DJ that the resort can provide at a cost. I think the iPod along with the MOC will be great!

    • PJ

      Why would you be cutting out the Master of Ceremonies by using an iPod? If I was having a DJ at my wedding I certainly wouldn’t want him their officiating my reception, introducing our speeches etc. Very impersonal and for me it is about choosing one of my closest friends to such an important job.

  • Tom
  • Leah

    Thank you for this. I was just having twinges of doubt in our decision to be our own DJ – this put my head back on straight!

  • Alicia

    I am a long-time APW reader, but first-time poster, and want to start by saying how truly incredible APW and its community of commenters are. I got married back in September and relied on this site heavily for inspiration and advice. Now, I want to pay some of this help forward by sharing something that worked really well for us.

    When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we knew we didn’t want a traditional DJ­ but we were also worried about having to spend the night checking-in on a traditional playlist.

    In true APW spirit, my husband—being the amazing engineer he is—built an iPad app for us from scratch called LimitList. It lets you choose a library of songs for your reception, but then your guests get to vote on the song they want to hear next. It also has a photobooth feature that takes a picture with each vote. We have around 500 amazing pictures now from the app alone. The app worked incredibly for us and gave us a nice balance between the interactivity of a DJ and the musical control of a playlist. We hope it might be helpful for some future APW brides and grooms!

  • MC

    I’ve never seen a DJ coordinate with caterers? Hmmmmm interesting… I think the DJs are just blah blah blah because they don’t want to lose business. Over prices business.

    • Paul Lothary

      In my area, I charge less than the cost of renting speakers & mixing board and no lights. That’s 950 at Select Sound, Mikwaukee, WI. Also does not include pickup, transport, setup, teardown, music, time, and the hassle of running it and returning it Monday when you should be on your honeymoon. Only a fool would represent themselves at trial; only a fool would have an iPod wedding unless you have a tiny wedding.

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  • cashclowncollegeprofessor

    i understand the djs points about having a singular voice to direct guests on the various stages of a reception, but they are VASTLY underestimating the role the crowd plays when they say the dance floor will be empty without a dj. If you have a crowd that is ready to party, they will dance. If you pick songs people know and like, they will dance. I am planning an ipod wedding and my fiancees brother is going to make the announcements for the first dance and speeches and the like. And every family party we throw is always a raucous loud and fun affair so I think as long as we plan it well we are in good shape.

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  • Emily

    Question (on the offchance anybody sees new comments on old posts): How do you backup the playlist? Is there a way to “copy and paste” from itunes to iPods or other computers? I started my playlist on itunes on my computer, then didn’t see how to make the playlist show up on my iPod. Thank you!!

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  • Sar

    I love APW! I don’t think we could pull off our wedding without it. For ipod DJers out there, where do you acquire music to begin with if your itunes is a little spare? (We tend to listen to music on songza and other website and don’t actually own many tunes at all.) Any recommendations for sites where we could download some dance playlists to get us started? Or anyone have a playlist they’ve used that they want to share?

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    Using an IPod is a great way to cut down on a wedding budget, but I found having a wedding dj cut down on the stress.

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