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Musical options for weddings: Live Performers, DJ’s & iPods


by Hal Wagenet of DJ Mendocino


as presented in Marry Me in Mendocino Magazine 2010 issue page 18.



If you are investing more than a few thousand dollars on the
life-changing event known as Your Wedding, you owe it to
yourself to consider the proper use of music to create the mood and
memories you will treasure.
Music sets the tone for your guests upon arrival, conducts
the ceremony, eases the cocktail hour, creates the tender moments
of the first dance, recalls sentimental memories, excites your
dancers, and sends you and your friends away with a pleasant glow.
How is this best accomplished? What is most cost effective? What
should you expect?

LIVE PERFORMERS: Live performers provide real spice for your
event. There is nothing more beautiful and exciting than a golden
harp, string quartet, or mariachi band !!
But performers come with inherent limitations. Few are
versatile enough to satisfy the variety of requests that are common
to weddings today. It is unlikely that a string quartet will provide
disco music or that your classical guitarist will also lay down a
modern country two-step with real conviction. And if you engage a
band, you must also provide food and beverages for the performers
and support personnel, in addition to the fee.


iPODS AND BEYOND: This path is the budget path. It is the
cheapest alternative for entertainment. With the advent of iPods and
MP3 players, some brides and grooms are tempted to simply “roll
their own” and rent a simple sound system for the day. Sometimes a
friend with a popular library is pressed into service. The perception
that it is cheaper and just as good as hired entertainment adds to the
allure. But there are potential serious pitfalls that come along with
this particular choice.

A list created in an iPod or other automated playback is
inflexible. It cannot provide Aunt Emma’s favorite tune on demand,
or change the mood according to the bride’s wishes, or fill the
unplanned for gap when the cake is delayed in transit. Special songs
for ceremony, first dance, cake cutting may be pre-arranged, but
someone must then cue and play them at the proper time. When
you prevail upon a friend of family member to provide this service,
that person is no longer a guest, but a worker at your wedding.
iPod playback is not capable of being your MC, or
working with your family or wedding coordinator on your special
day. And budget sound systems hired or borrowed to complete the
money-saving strategy may be discovered at the most inconvenient
times to be inadequate for the demands of your event.


DISC JOCKEYS: An experienced DJ will provide you with
appropriate entertainment at each phase of your wedding. A wellrounded
library is essential, along with many years of professional
experience. You should expect top quality JBL, or equivalent, sound
gear. And your truly professional DJ will offer you lighting that
works with your theme
Young DJ’s are great for youth parties, but for a wedding,
you will want several options for the wedding march. Professional
DJ’s have a broad range of selections and the sensitivity to choose
songs to fit the moment wisely. Ask your DJ to provide Master of
Ceremony (MC) services as needed and work with him for your
special requests ahead of time.
A modern DJ may be everything you need, with wireless
mics for your ceremony and speeches, and a web site that verifies his
experience. But you can also use a full service DJ to showcase live
musicians using his sound gear, or include a special presentation to
enhance your ceremony. They can integrate a special last-minute
tune on iPod or CD from your traveling collection. Some DJ’s can
also provide Karaoke to show off your guests’ talents.


consider your guests and make your commitment early!!

Professional DJ’s in Mendocino County are often booked 90 days to

a year in advance. If your DJ does not provide a simple contract defining

services, fees and payment schedule, move on to one who does.

After all, this is yourday, and you deserve to enjoy the confidence of a clear business
arrangement that meets your budget and fulfills your vision for a
memorable event. ❧


Musical Options Pros & Cons


     Add a touch of class, real sparkle
•      Create memorable moments
•      Cannot provide complete spectrum of modern music requests
•      May require special accommodations
•      Performers take breaks
•      MC service may be spotty
•      Lighting not included

•      Cheapest alternative
•      Appears to satisfy broad range of musical interests
•      Adds a task to Bride & Groom list
•      Often requires a friend or family member to do the work
•      Playlists are inflexible in the moment
•      Rented or borrowed sound gear may not suit the event
•      No MC service included (creating another task for someone)
•      Lighting not included

•      Provides appropriate music for all phases of wedding:
       arrival, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, toasts, dancing
•      Can integrate live performers, iPod or CD special requests
•      Provides MC service
•      Provides lighting
•      Owns, maintains, sets up & operates equipment
•      Sets a tone, provides a personality
•      May provide Karaoke service
•      As a professional, provides a contract with clear terms
•      Costs more than iPOD’s
•      Is not a specialty live musician


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