How To DJ Your Wedding With An iPod

wedding reception at night

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Have a music guard. Guests don’t get to adjust the playlist, no, no, no. Make someone your music bouncer, and make them tough.

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.

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. Our 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.

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