All you have to do is Google “ipod wedding” and you’ll see a big can of worms open before your very eyes. You’ll find passionate arguments on both sides of the debate on whether you should do-it-yourself on music for your wedding.
I think there a few situations in which a DIY approach makes a lot of sense. First, if you have no desire (or don’t expect) to have dancing at your wedding, and are just looking for background music, then an iPod or a pre-programmed playlist on your laptop is a reasonable approach. Second, I think that doing your own music would be preferable to hiring a really bad DJ. At least you know what will be played if it’s your music. It is also a perfectly logical choice if you are doing your entire wedding on a shoestring budget.
What is NOT reasonable is the presumption that there is no difference between an iPod and an experienced professional disc jockey, since they both play music. That whole thought process is flawed. I like to use the analogy of the stone mason:
Imagine that a truck delivers a load of field stones into a pile. You could probably, without any experience at all, take the stones and form a wall of some type. It may not be perfect or stable or beautiful, but it would technically be a wall. A talented mason can take those very same stones and, with his experience, build a wall that is eye catching, memorable and will last a lifetime. Is there a difference between the two? You betcha!
One big disadvantage in using an mp3 player or laptop is that all you are doing is playing music — music that you chose based on what you THOUGHT your guests would enjoy. What happens when it’s time for dancing and people aren’t responding to what’s being played? And do you have a plan “B” if that iPod happens to freeze up during your wedding? If not, it’s sort of like skydiving without a reserve parachute. No iPod can take requests, make introductions for you, help keep your time line on track, work with your photographer to ensure that those special moments are captured, or use its expertise to adjust the music to get everyone involved in the celebration.
Some DJs like to post a link to a video that is easy to find on YouTube and many other sites that purport to show an iPod Wedding Disaster. For the record, I’m not convinced that what is being shown is genuine. I might be a little less cynical if it weren’t so boldly stamped with the logo of the American Disc Jockey Association. It screams “self-serving” with that big red, white and blue watermark. I have no direct evidence that it is staged; I’m just saying that I have my doubts as to its legitimacy. I know that a LOT of entertainers were quick to link to the clip. To me, those are just cheap scare tactics.
You can also read many forums in which brides brag about how they did their own music and how great it was. Again, in some cases, I am somewhat dubious. How many brides are really likely to ‘fess up to the fact that they tried something and it blew up in their face? Also, it’s possible THEY thought it was great because they saved some money, but I wonder if their guests shared their opinion. There are at least an equal number of forum writers describing their experience (as a guest) as awful.
If the only argument in favor of doing it yourself is the cost, there is some element of truth to that and there is no sense denying it. I’d like to point out that there is also a difference in cost between what your caterer charges and how much you could save by providing each of your guests a “Value Meal” from Taco Bell. And no reasonable thinking person is going to suggest that you can get a similar finished product by simply handing out disposable cameras instead of paying an experienced professional photographer.
And before you decide that doing it yourself is cheap, please remember that there is more to it than showing up with your iPod. Do you need to rent a sound system (amplifier, speakers, mixer, cables and microphones) that is powerful enough to fill the space? Also, what is the backup plan if something goes wrong? Who is going to transport the system to the venue, set it up, monitor it during the reception to balance the sound and then tear it all down and take it back at the end? Are there going to be announcements or other emcee duties? Who will be responsible for those?
To be clear, the decision lies with those who are paying the wedding bills. My hope is that it is a fully informed and educated decision.