iPod Wedding Smacktalk

Grab a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. This is a long one.

A million years ago, I commented on a post about iPod weddings on the Broke Ass Bride. Dana, the blogger, understands what it’s like to be a broke bride and gave some tips on how to pull off the iPod wedding. I was thankful for the info since I’m a little worried about this whole endeavor.

Last week, someone replied to my comment.

Where the heck do you live that you are looking at a $1500 DJ? Seriously… We DJ on a regular basis and have NEVER asked for that much. And yes, we are professionals! Go to youtube and type in “Ipod wedding nightmare”. Then go to ADJA.com and type in the same thing. Good luck is all that I can say to anyone that attempts it! You will need to hire someone (or appoint someone and pray they are trustworthy) to lead your wedding regardless of the music. No umms or ahhhhhhhhs. How unprofessional! Good luck…

I tried to be polite as to not incite a riot on Dana’s blog, but I did make clear that on Long Island, these are typical DJ costs. I’ve defended the iPod wedding on a number of occasions. I’d say 99 percent of the time I’m defending the iPod wedding against someone in the wedding entertainment industry. Ya know, the same people who are losing business because broke people like myself are DIY-ing our music. These people who trash the iPod wedding have a HUGE stake in making you feel like you’re making a giant mistake.

And honestly, I’m getting a little sick of it.

In general, I don’t believe that an iPod can replace a DJ. I believe that DJ’s provide a very valuable service, one that is better left to a professional. Most people don’t have the equipment, talent or software to handle the music at their own wedding. I wouldn’t encourage the iPod wedding to those that are completely clueless. But, I also wouldn’t encourage putting yourself into debt JUST to have a DJ. If you can’t afford it, then do as much research as you can, talk to people and have a blast putting together your wedding playlist.

Let me preface my rant by telling you why we decided to iPod our wedding.

We have the equipment and software. As a musician, Chuck has most of the PA equipment necessary to play music for large crowds. He has the software and the skill needed to mix a set of songs into a playable set. We – well, not we, but my friends – have the talent necessary to make announcements, pump people up and force them on to the dance floor. Because of all of these factors, we can comfortably iPod our wedding.

What would be on your wedding playlist?

Do I want to iPod my wedding? No. Let’s be realistic, I’d much rather leave this up to a professional than go through the hassle of downloading five hours worth of music and hope to the Powers That Be that my wedding music doesn’t suck. Thankfully, I have very wonderful friends who are amazing behind a mic, but I’m a bit concerned that I won’t have anyone to really be in charge of my music. My attempts to find some random person to pay $100 to essentially sit and do nothing, haven’t been successful. This is the ONLY thing that I’m stressing out about.

But the alternative is paying some guy $1,500 to handle it. We don’t have $1,500. And if we had a spare $1,500 laying around, we’d spend it on rent or a few months of health insurance. That’s what broke people do with their money.

So, now for my rant, based on what I’ve seen from the weddings I’ve been to:

Many of these DJs sat behind a computer that had a program with all of their music (Like iTunes. Yes, I’ve seen plenty of DJs use iTunes) and they hit play. Sure, they MIGHT beat match one song into another instead of just fading it. They had those fancy lights, too. Sometimes there was some guy running around taking pictures who then loads them into another computer program so a slideshow of pictures that were taking 10 minutes ago can be played on giant TV screens. They made some announcements and played requests. Sometimes they had a personality and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they had too much personality and they needed to shut the hell up. I hear a lot of talk about “reading the crowd.” Seriously? This takes a professional? No one is dancing, PLAY A BETTER SONG! That’s what I’m paying over $1,500 for?

Chuck worked in pro audio at Guitar Center for two years and knows every single piece of equipment and computer program DJ’s use.  Every event we go to, he swings by the DJ booth to check out the setup. And more times than not, the most expensive thing they have, are the lights and the Mac they play their music on. Otherwise, the rest is cheap crap. And honestly, I would have caved on the DJ, but Chuck is the one that is standing strong. In his own words, “Unless you have some kind of turntable setup, you’re not worth me paying $1,500.”

And not for nothing, I’ve heard plenty of DJ horror stories. DJ’s who played everything on the Do Not Play list, DJ’s who pronounced names wrong, DJ’s who didn’t play any of the music the couple requested, DJ’s who played the music too loud in the middle of dinner, etc. DJ’s aren’t infallible. I have yet to encounter a wedding DJ that is worth $1,500.

If I had the money, I’d hire a band. I’d love a band, I really would.

I’ve tried to keep most of this ranty stuff to myself, because I hate putting ALL DJ’s in the same category. I’m sure DJ’s in Raleigh and other minor cities or rural areas don’t charge this much. These are the kinds of costs that you’d find near a major city, like DC, Manhattan and LA. Bride Tide once posted that the national average cost for a DJ was about $750. I’d pay $750. I wouldn’t be writing this post if I could find a DJ for that little money.

Now, I do understand that on Long Island, the cost of living is astronomical. It’s the whole reason why I moved to Raleigh. So of course, in order to make a living, you have to charge more. I get that. I really do. I mean, you have to do two parties at $1,500 just to pay your mortgage. But, just because I get it doesn’t mean I can pay it.

So wedding entertainment industry, please, just shut the F up.

Making me feel like I’m making a huge mistake and that my wedding will be a disaster isn’t going to make me want to hire you so you can come to my musical rescue. In fact, it makes me feel worse for not having the money to afford a DJ. Because, I’ll say it again, if a couple chooses to iPod their wedding, it is most likely because they can’t afford otherwise. I find that most of the time your comments are rude and demeaning. The one up there wasn’t bad, but I’ve seen DJ’s write terrible things about iPod weddings and the people that have them. There is a way to disagree without being insulting (that’s a general rule of thumb for everyone). If you have tips, share them, but I find it incredibly unprofessional when you say that ALL iPod weddings are disasters and then link your DJ company.

And to be honest, you are the only industry I ever see do this. I rarely see photographers or videographers make comments on posts about DIY-ing photo or video. It has really put a bad taste in my mouth regarding the entire industry.

Despite all of the “iPod wedding disasters” people are still doing it. Prominent and influential bloggers, like Dana, and Meg at A Practical Wedding, are supporting it and encouraging it. Maybe you should take the hint. At the very least, be a professional and stop smack talking people who are too broke to hire one.

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15 thoughts on “iPod Wedding Smacktalk

  1. Better yet, offer your services for free or at a discounted rate and just ask to put up a huge banner and have lots of cards with your info on them. Do it as a tax write-off. Pay it forward and see the wonderful things it can do for your business and your reputation.

    How bout that smack talking DJs!

  2. I definitely think you can pull this off. It’s true that no matter what people see on youtube, there are couples that are still doing the ipod thing and you know what, I bet there are a lot more weddings that go smoothly with it than djs would ever like to admit. No, there is no one there to get a feel for the crowd but I don’t think I buy into that thinking anymore.

    Your dance floor will be packed all night. I just know it. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jenn! The thing with You Tube is who is going to post a video that says, “iPod wedding success?” Of course there are disasters. There are also disasters in other parts of the wedding too. Here’s the thing, if my guests need a DJ to get out of the dance floor, that’s their problem. I don’t need a DJ to dance my butt off. Just music coming out of some speakers.

      BTW, thank you again for the music recommendations. I sent it to Chuck and he’s going to DL some more stuff.

    • Ohh, he did. You’re right. But that would be weird. Hey, we never talk and I didn’t invite you to my wedding, but can you DJ for us. Awkward.

  3. If you’re stressed and looking for someone to man the Ipod at the reception, I’d be willing to do it. I’ve been following your blog since the beginning and would love to see how everything came together.

  4. (Full disclosure: I do wedding photography & filmmaking, both in Kentucky and on Long Island. I have absolutely no desire to be a DJ, their equipment weighs too damn much.)

    I get it. Especially these days, budgets are tight. I applaud the desire to not start off your marriage on the wrong financial foot. I got married myself on less than $7K, on Long Island. And still had both a pro photog and DJ.

    I also understand leveraging the friends you have to maximize your budget. But I also have seen my share of iPod and friend DJ’ed weddings, and every last one was a disaster as far as the dance party goes, as well as from the perspective of transitions. They rarely have a music library beyond their own tastes, and no, having the couple pick all the music isn’t good enough- there’s no better recipe for undanceable.

    More importantly, in the absence of a wedding planner, your DJ is your most important person in the room as far as keeping your reception on schedule. This cannot be underestimated. Friends *never* get it back on track, and especially if you are, like most budget brides, an a limited time photography plan, that can lead to overtime charges. It can also lead to cold food if the food service is delayed. Guests remember cold food.

    Look, I understand their are bad dj’s out there- the same can be said of any event pros and that’s why reviews sites like Wedding Wire help, but there are better places to cut corners.

    First, the guest list. The more people you have to accommodate, the more $ you outlay. Period. You look for more inexpensive venues– catering halls will eat your budget alive, but there are many off the beaten track options that will both look unique and cost less. Beer & wine service instead of open bar. A charitable donation in lieu of favors. Even having friends cook all the food — some of the best wedding meals I’ve ever had were Southern barbecue buffets put on my the groom’s friends. In our case, we saved money by going to the Oceanside Knights of Columbus, which provided food (buffet) & the cake, keeping our guest list to 80, and not opting for a limo.

    With everything, try and remember that there’s a fine line between DIY chic and just looking cheap. This item is one of those that screams cheap, and the only way I’ve seen to not have that problem with not having professional music is simply to not have a dance floor at all.

    (For what it’s worth, DJ’s aren’t the only ones who bristle at the cost cutter options– ask a photographer what an Uncle Bob is sometime.)

    • Thanks for your comment, Ian. I see your points, I definitely do. And I even agree with them. But, we are already doing most of what you suggested. We are getting married at a very cheap venue. We’re doing an afternoon cocktail party with only beer and wine. We are doing donations in lieu of favors. We didn’t have a limo until my father decided to pay for it. I do have full day video and photo, but only because my friends are pros in the industry and are offering me an extremely generous discount. I spent months crocheting my flowers and my cousin is baking our cake. Let’s be honest, my wedding couldn’t look any more cheap. This isn’t DIY chic (I would never put myself and chic in the same sentence anyway), this is DIY because we barely have money to pay the rent let alone pay for a wedding. If it wasn’t for a generous gift from my parents, we would be getting married in Raleigh Town Hall or Vegas.

      If we were in a better financial position, we would most definitely leave our music up to the pros. But, it wouldn’t be any one of the jerks that have been leaving nasty comments.

  5. OMG I’m right there with you. I got several nasty comments and emails from DJs after my post about considering an iPod wedding! I mean, goodness gracious — do you think you’re going to convince me to hire a DJ by being such an asshole? For one, I know my iPod won’t talk back.

    I had one DJ leave a comment detailing exactly how much every single piece of his equipment cost him and why it’s terrible and horrible and offensive to have an iPod wedding.

    I have two words for assholes like those:
    suck. it.

    • I knew of all people you would appreciate this post because you went through the same thing. Hell, we had a running joke about pretending it wasn’t a wedding and it was a party.

      I’m kind of surprised this post has been up for three days and I haven’t gotten any nasty comments. I really didn’t have a raging problem with DJ’s or how much they charge until I started seeing all of the nasty comments. Now, I was just offended and instead of convincing me than an iPod wedding was a bad idea, it made me want to do it and throw it in their face when it was a raging success.

  6. Ugh I hate it when everyone makes you justify your decisions!!! You’re paying/not paying for something. It’s not THEIR money so why can’t they leave you alone? I feel your pain. You do your iPod wedding and make it awesome. Then post a video on Youtube. No one is going post, let alone WATCH a video where nothing interesting happened, of course you’re not going to get success videos. What silly logic. BTW we are paying $1,300 for our DJ in Toronto. Fiance’s sister paid $1,600 for hers. Those budget tools that tell you you should spend $100 on your limo are ridiculous. We are spending…$350, and that’s a steal considering the usual starting prices are $600! Toronto is a freaking expensive city and that’s what happens when you live in a big city. Stuff costs much more money than out in the country where the criticizers live so if you can leave something out and save money, all the power to you sister!

  7. Truth be told we almost had an ipod wedding. What I would have really loved was a band but that wasn’t in the cards. We were also looking at a minimum of $1500 for a DJ and like you said even if I had that kind of cash, I would have rather just bought a ton more booze than spend it on a DJ. Not because I don’t think they are important or talented but because that kind of money is outrageous for a few hours of music playing. 99% of the weddings I have been too have had DJ’s that were cheese balls. The guests really determine how fun it will be and who will dance not the DJ. Sure if he plays straight up terrible music that makes it hard but even a good DJ can’t get a lame crowd up and going. We had a DJ volunteer his time last minute and it was a stress relief but to say an ipod wedding is a disaster is ridiculous. Many of my friends have ipod libraries that would rival any DJ and yes our DJ used an ipod among other equipment. If I had to skimp on any professional it would no question be the DJ.

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