One of the latest wedding and party trends is the iPod DJ. Going this route saves on money, but not on the nerves. Couples should remember the pitfalls of taking the human out of the equation when it comes to your musical entertainment.
1. Read the crowd
Simply put, an iPod doesn't. The only way iPod weddings work is the couple makes a playlist ahead of time, and hopes it's a hit. Professional DJs, on the other hand, can feel what's working and what's not with the crowd, take requests in some cases, and adjust accordingly. Also, there are probably more important things for the betrothed to worry about before their wedding apart from crafting the playlist. That's why DJs like me offer a place to request songs ahead of time, but they also leave it up to us to figure out where they work -- or don't -- in the flow. Music lovers, who place a deep value on making sure the songs reflect their tastes on their big day, are missing the fact that wedding guests might not feel the same way about the tunes that are cued up on the iPod, and be what I call "dance floor watchers" instead all night -- to usually an empty dance floor.
Without a DJ, the job of manning the decks usually falls to a groomsmen/family member/friend, who said they were happy to do it. But this also means that they can't go too far from the iPod station (for reason #3 below), and they can't fully enjoy themselves by having fun out on the dance floor themselves (or just schmoozing if that's more their thing). Let your guests be guests and leave the work to a pro.
3. What happens if there's a tech error?
I'll tell you what happens, since I've seen it occur first-hand on two occasions: the party stops. DJs should carry back up, so that if there's ever a disturbance due to equipment malfunction, they have it up and running in no time. Sometimes, you might not even notice that there was a problem because of the backup ready to go on the fly. Once a party stops, it can sometimes be hard to get it back on track. The last thing a couple needs is to worry about the music cutting out on their big day.
4. Quality of mixing
iPods and other portable music players may be able to hold and play oodles of songs, and they might even have an app you can add-on to throw in some crossfading or other effects, but thow many times can you hear a backspin or brake effect on a song? Very few options exist to vary the transition between tracks, and sometimes you need to let a song fade out or you need to cut it early: It's too long, it's not connecting with the crowd. With an iPod, you can only hit the FORWARD button, which is an abrupt crowd-killer.
5. Quality of sound
iPods are not built to be hooked up to powerful speakers before a crowd of more than a few people. If you turn up the iPod volume all the way, you'll get distortion and clipping, but if you keep the volume below its peak and crank the speakers, you'll get hissing from the extra power the speakers are trying to fill from the music source (the iPod). You can have the best speakers in the world, but this will still happen, and even the untrained ear will hear this.
So while an iPod wedding may save you some cash, and you may think you've prepared for every situation above, consider that a little extra money will go a long way towards making your big day stress-free, and fun for everyone in attendance.