Tips for a Magical D.I.Y. Wedding Music PlanDon’t even THINK of doing it all on your own. Have a friend help you at the wedding. Let them be at the controls to ‘work’ the program and coordinate the highlights, etc. A ‘dry run’ to work out logistics is a must. Do a sound check at least a few days or a week before the wedding.

Select the special songs you’ve chosen for special highlights at least 2 or 3 weeks before your wedding day if possible. Add them to your playlist on your iPod. Select your favorite ‘Dinner’ or background music CDs and add them also, and do the same with favorite dance numbers.

Consider renting an iPod already ‘loaded’ with dance songs and romantic movie soundtracks. Then let the DJ add your MP3 playlist. More and more DJs offer ‘loaded’ iPods with dock and speakers for around $200, sometimes less.

Check out our music planning 101 pages for more planning ideas and tips and download our free planning CD with music samples for your style wedding for more ideas. It’s a great planning tool and fun to listen to.

The Pros and Cons of Using an iPod

Much has been written about the advantages of using an iPod or other MP3 playback device for wedding ceremonies and receptions. One obvious advantage is that you can save quite a bit of money not hiring a DJ for your wedding music. You can also have absolute control of each and every selection of music and the order in which it’s played throughout the entire event. However, the harsh reality is that in most cases, these may not be advantages at all. Just ask anyone who has been to a wedding where an iPod was used without the guidance of a professional wedding disc jockey. True, you may save hundreds of dollars, but at what cost to the quality of your wedding reception?

Keep these facts in mind:
An iPod can’t “read the crowd”, but that’s a professional wedding DJ’s ‘specialty’. A pro can change the tempo if your guests want a slow song next or a faster song played. Working with a professional wedding DJ who has a vast knowledge of all styles of music will, in most cases, make your wedding reception ‘an affair to remember’. Filling your iPod with songs that YOU like doesn’t guarantee that all your guests will like them as well.

An iPod can’t mix the music like a professional DJ. You’ll have a 2 or 3-second ‘dead-air’ gap between songs that can kill the energy on the dancefloor. On the other hand, a professional wedding DJ can mix almost seamlessly from song to song, keeping the guests dancing until the very end.

An iPod can’t act as a Master of Ceremonies. Hiring someone who does weddings on a regular basis and knows all the formalities associated with such events is priceless. If you think a friend can do the same job as a professional, think again. Be very careful and sure of the friend or relative you ask to do this for your wedding. Unfortunately, too many friends have ‘frozen’ at too many weddings, and there are no “do-overs” when it comes to weddings.

There’s a reason we use the words “professional wedding DJ” and not just “DJ”. There is a huge difference between the occasional wedding DJ (the ‘weekend warrior’ that has given the industry a bad name) and the full-time professional who customizes and personalizes every wedding s/he does. I urge you to seek out a professional who can help you plan the wedding of your dreams. A professional wedding DJ will go beyond just playing the music like an iPod or hobbyist DJ. They will act as Master of Ceremonies and keep the flow of the reception going through his or her coordination and directing skills.

(Thanks to DJ Ron Michaels at Ron Michaels Weddings for the Pros and Cons)

If You’re Having A DJ

Give the DJ your special MP3 selections and include them with the music program you and your DJ work out together.

Make sure to have a meeting with your DJ at least 2 weeks before the wedding to finalize your plan.

Have the DJ print out a program (your script) including all toasts, special dances, special ‘must play’ songs, even your ‘don’t play’ selections.

Coordinate your ‘script’ with the caterer, photographer, videographer and have a friend the DJ can call on to help coordinate special moments such as first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance, toasts, etc.

Check out Music Planning 101 for more tips on working with DJs Before You Hire A DJ, and After