I’m planning a surprise 60th birthday party for my mother in about 2 weeks and we still haven’t thought about music. For my wedding, we found a reasonably priced DJ through a recommendation (I think the person who referred the company got a discount, if you’re trying to save, consider hawking your DJ’s services for a price cut.) For this cocktail party, it’s a lot more low-key so I’m going to go with DIY. But how?
I’ve heard a lot of people use their iPods in place of a DJ during their receptions. My mom reported that my second cousin did this at his wedding, actually. From what I’ve heard, this method works pretty well but it’s less polished than having a DJ: the songs don’t blend together smoothly so you may be left with a brief silence, it’s hard to jump in and save the situation if your pre-prepared playlists aren’t getting the crowd pumped up, and you’ll have to get a friend or relative to take on the unpaid position of MC. These aren’t really problems at a small family cocktail party, but it could be a bigger issue at a wedding. If you’re willing to risk it, it’s a great option. My one concern with this option is that it’s not free if you have to buy songs on iTunes (I can’t condone or promote piracy, but you know, it is out there.) You can always upload songs from your favorite CDs for free, but odds are that you’ll have to drop some money. Still a lot less than a DJ, but you do have to keep in mind that it won’t be totally free. Also, you’ll have to think about where you can plug your iPod in. Sound docks are great, but they may be on the tiny side in a large reception hall. Ask your venue what they have to offer in terms of A/V equipment to see if this plan is feasible.
For a very small wedding, or a cocktail party like my mom’s party, I’ve been considering a YouTube playlist. There are definite problems with this, like that you risk an ad being played, a video could be taken down which would result in a long break, there are long pauses between each video as the next loads, and the playlist may stop playing if the browser tab is no longer open. You’d also have to find a way for your computer to be hooked up to a sound system (or bring really fantastic speakers.) Plus side: it’s free. That’s a lot to contend with though.
You could always go a little old school and make your own mix CD, but it’s a lot of work, you have no MC, and you’re screwed if the crowd isn’t feeling your jams. But if you already have the mp3 files, it only costs as much as the blank CDs. Plus you’ll have keepsake CDs of all of the music played at your wedding.
Have you been to a wedding without a DJ? I’m dying to know how they turned out, whether the absence of a DJ was noticeable, and if you’re doing the same for your wedding. Please, please, please tell me! I’ve been thinking about this since I was wedding planning, these questions have been killing me for over a year now! Plus I need to hammer out my music plans for my mom’s party soon.