The TRUTH About the "DIY Approach" to DJing Your Own Wedding
Do you really want THIS to DJ your wedding?
It is time for us all to face reality. Saving money by doing things yourself for your own wedding comes at a price. A price that no one ever mentions because if you were told the truth, you would never click on these crazy articles - articles written by people who are journalists and NOT wedding professionals.
With all of the preparation it takes to plan a wedding, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information that is out there. Especially the information that relates to "DIY-ing" your own wedding. This approach may work for some, but for most it is the first step on a path that leads to a less-than-exceptional wedding day experience. And let's be honest, when I say "less-than-exceptional", I really mean disastrous.
Sure, I am a wedding professional, and sure it would be counter-intuitive for me to encourage you to DIY your wedding. But a lot of the information that is out there to help you save money is there to do just that - save you money and nothing else. These articles NEVER mention the amount of stress and financial hardship that comes with excluding a true, highly regarded and well-prepared pro.
This is an article I found on Bustle.com. I thought I would show you the article and follow up each point with THE TRUTH. What you are about to read may shock you. But at least you will have all sides of the story so you can make an educated decision, once and for all, for yourself:
(taken from the article "How To DJ A Wedding With An iPod And Make Sure The Music Goes Off Without A Hitch". It can be found here: https://www.bustle.com/articles/116583-how-to-dj-a-wedding-with-an-ipod-and-make-sure-the-music-goes-off-without)
1. Think through each part of the wedding
Often when people decide to iPod their wedding, they are generally thinking about one part of the day — the ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception. If you're only using an iPod for one part of the wedding day, it generally has an effect on the other pieces. For instance, if you're using an iPod for the wedding reception, who will bring mics for the ceremony and reception announcements? And who will emcee the wedding and make those announcements? If you're having a band for the reception, who will handle setting up the sound equipment when you use an iPod for the ceremony and cocktail hour? There are always solutions to be found, but to avoid last-minute stress, it's good to think through the music, sound, and audio for the entire day, and plan accordingly.
The truth: This is EXACTLY what a professional wedding DJ will do for you. He/she already knows what each part of the wedding is and what music is appropriate for it. Also, your DJ will work with you to prepare music for every part of your wedding and use his/her experience to play something appropriate at any given time. An iPod cannot do this for you. He/she will bring his/her own equipment (more often than not, high-quality, professional equipment that is designed for this very type of thing).
2. Get the right equipment
Of course, everyone these days has an iPod or a smart phone that's capable of holding all the music you need for your wedding. It's the other equipment such as speakers, microphones, and all that sound equipment that's not as common. When you think through your event in full, determine all the sound equipment you'll need in addition to an iPod. Will you need a mic? A wireless one? A PA? An extra long wire? If you're like me — and know next to nothing about sound equipment — a musician is always a great person to consult.
The truth: Refer to "the truth" under item #1 above. Do you really want to take all this time to educate yourself on sound equipment? Plus, it's not JUST the equipment you will have to be concerned with. Actually RUNNING the sound system is another aspect all to itself. It is also an aspect that requires knowledge and training. You can't just turn this stuff on and expect it to work perfectly without any tweaking.
3. Appoint a sound person
Pick one person (and it cannot be you or your partner, because you'll be busy, you know, getting married) to be responsible for setting up the equipment, and controlling the playlist and sound. Your sound person should know a thing or two about the equipment, sound levels, feedback, and all that good stuff to ensure that if there's a complication, he or she can troubleshoot the issue smoothly. The best appointed sound people I've seen at weddings are the ones who always take their role super seriously, and know how to prevent issues before they become a problem. If my husband and I were to get married all over again knowing what I know now, this time around I'd take my own advice and steer myself completely clear of the iPod during the reception, and leave it in someone else's capable hands.
The truth: Will this appointed sound person will be one of your guests, one of your friends who isn't a guest or someone else? There is a really good chance that the person appointed will actually be one of these people and if so, they probably won't be too focused on being your DJ or your audio engineer. Hiring a professional DJ will eliminate this issue.
4. Make a playlist for each section of the wedding
For the ceremony, you'll likely have two to three songs picked out, and your ceremony playlist can be as simple as that. The rest of the day can be chunked into playlists that fit the mood for that part of the wedding. Playlists can be made for cocktail hour, introductions, dances (such as the first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance), dinner, group dancing, and the after party.
The truth: Here is where having a professional DJ really makes a difference. The one most important aspect of your ceremony is timing. Do you really think am iPod knows to extend a song if it isn't long enough? For instance, when you walk down the aisle and your processional song ends, there will be lots of uncomfortable silence. A DJ who has done hundreds of weddings will make sure that this song will be looped to account for the extra time and to make sure that it sounds flawless - and this is only ONE thing to consider. There are so many more, we could spend an hour talking about the dos and don'ts.
5. Make longer playlists than you think you need
Make longer playlists than you think you need for the cocktail hour and reception, as those are the two parts of the wedding that can be challenging to predict exactly how much music you'll need. Sometimes things run long, sometimes short, but either way, you want to make sure you have some extra music at the end of each play list. For example, if your cocktail hour is one hour long, it's a great idea to make a playlist that's an hour and a half.
The truth: Your professional DJ will already have this handled. Plus, the cocktail hour is a great opportunity for a DJ to "break the ice" with your guests and prep them for the amazing party that is to follow. An iPod just serves as a machine that plays music without regard for the guests that are at your event.
6. Build momentum with the music
As you make your playlists (particularly for the reception), think about how all the songs build on each other so that you eventually get to the point where no one can help but be on the dance floor. For instance, toward the end of dinner, make sure you're playing some music that puts your wedding guests in the dancing mood, then after that consider some music that's appealing to all ages when the dancing starts to get everyone on the dance floor. Then increase the momentum throughout the rest of the night.
The truth: Having a professional DJ take care of this part of your wedding event is vital. What happens if your pre-formatted playlist doesn't work at all? You are basically left with an empty dance floor. Is saving money by not hiring a professional DJ worth having an empty dance floor?
7. Do a sound check — once, twice, three times
The sound check is really the whole crux of iPod-ing your wedding successfully. Never underestimate the fact that sound equipment — particularly in a venue you've never set up sound equipment in before — can be incredibly finicky. In order to ensure there are no bumps, set up the sound equipment in the days before the wedding to test it out, and also test it out again on the morning of the wedding as early in the day as possible. If you have an inclement weather plan for your wedding where it may require that the ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception be moved in the event of rain, test out the equipment in the rain location as well. Sound checks — multiple times and in multiple locations — is the only way to ensure the music is ready to go.
The truth: You can sound check all you want, but chances are you will do your sound check to an empty room before everyone arrives. Once your reception area fills up with guests, it changes the way the sound is set up entirely. Human bodies absorb sound, so that sound check you did before everyone arrived will more than likely do you no good at all. A professional DJ is also an excellent audio engineer who can adjust for the changes in the sound dynamic no matter what the room looks like.
8. Know where the local electronics store is (just in case)
When you're DIY-ing any part of a wedding, it's always a good idea to note down where the closest stores are that can help solve potential problems. For sound-related issues, know where the nearest electronics store is so that the appointed sound person can run out to the store if all doesn't work out as planned during the sound check. It's happened more than once at weddings I've coordinated where the sound check didn't go as planned, and someone had to run out to buy an additional cable.
The truth: A DJ will have back up equipment to take care of any mishaps that may occur, so there is no need to "know where the local electronics store is". In addition, electronics stores typically carry consumer-grade electronics. Professional DJs typically have professional-grade electronics, which believe it or not, are far superior in quality and performance.
Bottom line - think about the time, huge expense and stress that you will have to consider if you are wanting you DIY your music component of your wedding. At the very least, talk entensively with your prospective wedding DJ and think very hard about the pros and cons of the DIY approach. Cutting this corner is probably not the best idea. Also, any professional DJ worth his/her salt will understand that you have budgeting concerns, so don't completely rule them out. Have a frank and open discussion with your DJ. It never hurts to take that extra time instead of trying to save a few bucks at the expense of your wedding day.