Greetings to our lovely followers from a beautiful and still-very-snowy Whistler! Our blog topic today is one that arouses strong reactions and emotions on many wedding planning pages. We refer to the question of whether you will hire professionals for the music at your wedding, or will you go all DIY and fall for an iPod Wedding?
Yes friends, the iPod Wedding has become A Thing. The term itself has entered the vernacular in wedding world jargon. You can Google it. And frankly, it fills us with alarm and dread.
Let us speak plainly – in our vast experience of many hundreds of weddings, unless you plan an extremely small and intimate ceremony and reception, and/or plan for no dancing or partying, an iPod wedding is a dreadful idea and a recipe for potential wedding day disaster. iPods are fabulous for personal use, but despite all those iPod apps out there, they have no place at an event – especially a wedding event where so much emotion is riding on the success of the whole experience for the couple and for the guests.
Later in this blog, we speak with some experts who can speak better than can we to the advisability of hiring professionals, whether DJ or live bands. But first, here are some considerations we urge all couples to seriously ponder before making a decision on music for their big day.
WHO CONTROLS THE iPOD?
Which of your guests or wedding party (and they better be pretty tech-savvy) is willing to miss the party in order to monitor the iPod and ensure everything plays in the goes-like-clockwork order you planned? Not to mention policing the iPod from guests who want to change that playlist you painstakingly spent hours and hours assembling (and they will).
AUDIO GEAR RENTAL AND SET-UP
Plugging in your iPod dock or borrowing your cousin’s speakers won’t cut it here. Sorry. To ensure your music is heard loud and clear on the dance floor while guests chatting on the periphery can still hear each other speak, you will need to hire professional grade audio gear and know how to use it, and that includes speakers, a mixer, an amplifier, wireless mics, speaker cables…the list goes on and the costs mount up. Do you have someone savvy enough to know how to use it….how many times have you been at an event where someone with a mic wanders in front of the speakers and sets up that ear-splitting shriek from the speakers? And who picks up all that equipment, delivers it to the venue, sets it up correctly, and tears it down when the party is done? Venues rarely if ever allow you to leave it overnight, someone must be responsible for dismantling it and storing it safely for delivery back to the hire vendor next day.
SYSTEM FAILURE…OH AND INSURANCE
Professionals own professional grade equipment worth many thousands of dollars. You won’t be seeing it at your local Best Buy. It is fully insured and regularly maintained. You can be sure they will have back-up if anything goes wrong. Hire gear on the other hand, has been used and probably abused by multiple people. What do you do if it fails? And what if someone drops a speaker on their toe or trips over a cable or shorts out the venue electrical system? Better be sure you have liability insurance. Thinking of all this is even freaking US out! And we’ve seen it all.
WE CAN JUST USE THE VENUE’S SOUND SYSTEM
Not so fast. Or so simple. Have you checked that your venue has the sound system capability you need to entertain a crowd? Do you know where the powerpoints are in the room? What length cables will you need? Are there any noise restrictions? Plus, when sound is fed into a venue space, the sound is evenly distributed, which means that while the dance floor music may be booming, your guests who want to sit and have a conversation at their table, will find it impossible to hear each other. At some venues, you may find your iPod must be set up in a totally different room from where the reception is taking place. Oops.
THE iPOD IS NOT HUMAN
An iPod may, if you’re lucky, obediently play a list of songs in the order you want. But that’s it. It cannot, repeat cannot, react in the moment if a change of pace is required, sense the mood of the crowd, control the flow of events, make announcements, interact with the guests, take requests, keep the dance floor packed when the mood changes, coordinate the timeline, liaise with the photographer, the caterer, the planner, create the energy and atmosphere that creates wonderful and lasting memories for you and your guests. That’s a long list! Professionals on the other hand, whether DJ or live band, are masters at all of this after years of experience. They are artists at their craft, and there is no substitute for their expertise. None.
Not willing to take our word for it? We approached three of our favourite local wedding music professionals for their feedback, and we hope their words resonate with any couple seeking a wedding that’s memorable for all the right reasons – and not because it ends up on YouTube under ‘wedding disasters’.
First up, Richard Zimmer, of Trax Mobile DJ Service.
Q – Richard, in your experience, what are the most important reasons a couple should hire a professional wedding DJ?
EXPERIENCE is probably the biggest factor in becoming a great DJ. Just like anything practice is required to excel. Trax has been in business over 15 years. All of our DJs have a minimum of 3 years experience as either a club DJ, mobile DJ or a technical diploma in the music industry. Practice teaches you how to read the crowd and respond to keep the energy level up on the dance floor. An Ipod cannot learn this!
PROFESSIONAL DJs This is our career and we take it very seriously by practicing, performing at over 100 gigs a year and keeping our music up to date and ensuring we have the specific music required for each event. Your DJ will know what song to play and when to play it to ensure the best music mix possible. Only years of experience can teach you this.
ENTERTAINER is what a DJ is. Again anyone can press play on a CD player but can they get on the mic and entertain the crowd? A great DJ needs to be able to use his voice to engage the crowd and help build energy. Whether it be just to make announcements or to be fully interactive by playing games with the crowd a DJ needs to be able to grab your attention and ensure you have a great time.
MUSIC is the main component of any party. Trax has spent over 15 years researching and compiling a vast music library as well as staying on top of today’s latest hits. Trax DJs know there tunes and how to mix them, again a talent that only a great DJs possess. On average your DJ will have over 10,000 songs at an event and we encourage as much input from our clients and guests as possible before and during the event.
PLANNING the perfect event takes time. Trax offers a comprehensive downloadable planning guide to help our clients choose the right music for their event. We also offer a top 200 and top 40 lists to help with your music selections. Experience has shown us that input from our clients and guests will ensure we have all the music requests required to provide a fun and entertaining event.
EQUIPMENT is essential. Dad’s home stereo doesn’t cut it today nor does your best friends iPod selection and a speaker. Trax uses only industry standard professional equipment. Each package has a minimum 1000 watts of sound. Each of our DJs uses professional mixing software from Serato or Traktor. On average we are bringing over $8000 worth of equipment to an event including Mackie powered speakers, Numark cd decks, Vestax mixer, Audio Technica cordless mic, Vertigo dance lights, laptop and software. Regular equipment updates ensure the best quality sound.
PROFESSIONALISM is a requirement for our DJs. Proper dress-code, politeness and accommodating client needs is standard. Our Djs are here to serve our clients including all the preplanning of their day of needs. Flexibilty is a quality that our clients enjoy as our DJs are aware things may change along the way. Trax DJs will never lose their cool and will always be courteous and respectful to all guests.
Q – How should a couple plan their music budget – do they pay by the hour or are there all- inclusive packages available?
Budget for a experienced Professional DJ. People need to understand that there is a world of difference between a DJ and a Professional DJ. A professional DJ has spent years practicing his craft. They know how to build the crowd energy and to be able to maintain it by bringing it back down as well. This takes years and years of practice and experience. I personally have done over 3000 club and mobile events and I am still learning new things. I often bring new so called DJs to my events. I play for a bit get a full dance floor then ask them to play a 3 song set of their choosing…almost every time they clear the dance floor by the 3rd song. Budget some funds for your entertainment!!!
Q – Do you offer advice on music selection for the reception and dancing?
We offer a 5 page Music planner to help our clients choose the perfect wedding music. The planner consists of our top 200 wedding songs as well as current top 40 songs. The client will choose as many songs as they like off our list as well as provide any music request they do not see on our lists. After we receive the completed planning guide we review it with our client to offer any advice and to ensure proper flow for the evening. We also encourage guests’ request to round out the event. We bring over 10,000 songs to our events and if needed we can download a song on the spot. We can also create a custom playlist with only our Clients’ requests if they so desire but unfortunately we rarely can stick to it as the crowd dynamic is ever changing and that is why you need a Professional DJ to read the crowd and play accordingly!
Next up, Pete Cronin of Pemberton DJ
Q – Pete, what are the most important reasons a couple should hire a professional wedding DJ?
Experience!! Professional equipment. Ability to read the crowd. Knowledge of the local venue acoustics. Skilled in the art of bringing the young and old together on the dance floor. Peace of mind!
Having good music at a wedding is key to a successful event. To achieve this you need a Dj with experience not a You Tube playlist.
We can discuss musical likes and dislikes. The demographic of the guests. Playing the right music at the right time. Special songs. Whether all requests should be played, including possible bridesmaid request caps. Do the couple want everyone to be included in dancing?
Q – How should a couple plan their music budget – do they pay by the hour or are there all-inclusive packages available?
I have a wedding package available that will work for most people. I am also happy to work with a client’s budget.
Q – Do you offer advice on music selection for the reception and dancing?
I listen to the client first, and based on what they like I add some suggestions that would complement their music choices.Once I understand what music is the clients’ cup of tea, then I can tailor the best tracks that will make the night fun and personal. If clients are unsure what they want or what gets people moving, then I will help them select the right music.
As the night gets underway I am able to read the crowd and will play to them, this comes with years of experience. Getting everyone involved and up and dancing and having a good time is what the clients and I both want.
Djing weddings for me is not about playing what I want, it’s about playing what the couple wants and what works to ensure that everyone is having a good time.
The clients’ music is mixed and beat matched on turntables live, which looks super crafty and hip. Very few wedding Dj’s use turntables nowadays as laptop djing has become the norm. Some classic tracks I even play on vinyl, which sound great live.
Last but most certainly not least, we spoke with Matt King, owner and leader of two fabulous live bands: Big Mountain Rhythm and Blame the Weekend!
Q – Matt, why should a couple hire a professional live musician for their wedding?
1. A professional band understands how a wedding works, it’s not just another show! A pro will be dressed accordingly, have the right questions to ask to facilitate your event, be willing to do a venue inspection with you to map out the event from a technical standpoint, choose material with you, work with your timeline, and be willing to facilitate key moments.
2. A professional band will have professional grade equipment with a sound engineer to mix the performance, and also to handle microphone levels during speeches & announcements. A pro will also have options like wireless microphones for speeches, lapel microphones for ceremony dialogue, and options for setting up multiple performance spaces within the venue (i.e. ceremony, cocktails, dinner and dancing) without moving equipment in front of your guests.
3. A professional band will have a deep enough repertoire to appeal to different demographics and ages at your wedding, understands how to read a crowd, fill a dance floor… and keep it full throughout the night!
4. A professional band will liaise with your planner and venue to ensure load-in, setup, and soundcheck are achieved in a timely and effective manner (well before guest arrival). They will also work with the planner throughout the event to adapt to changing timelines and circumstances.
5. A professional band is just that… a group of professional musicians who are experts at their craft. It’s not a garage band with pieced together equipment and a handful of inappropriate songs that your grandmother will despise. You wouldn’t hire a carpenter to bake your cake right?
Do yourself (and everyone) a favour and hire a professional musician for your wedding, the entertainment seals the deal for your big day and leaves a lasting impression of your party for years to come.
So there you have it folks – the voice of experience from not only yours truly, but very experienced wedding music professionals. Have we convinced you that it’s just not worth the risk to wing it with an iPod on the most special day of your life? Always, always go with a music professional . Do it for yourselves. Do it for love.