A good DJ has an educated idea of what will work to get people dancing. He does well when he can suspend his own musical prejudices and play for "the crowd". The iPod and the guests are at the mercy of the taste of its programmer. The person in charge of the iPod knows what THEY like but may be inexperienced at playing for a mixed group.
On the other hand, the "jukebox" aspect of the iPod is interesting. It allows for eclectic, random musical changes and songs that might not necessarily go together. If you've ever been to a bar where the jukebox plays Metallica one minute, Sinatra the next, you may have noticed a quirky charm to the unorthodox mix. If you have the kind of group that will dance to anything or is quite musically evolved, the iPod may work out fine.
If it doesn't work out, you may have to bear some responsibility. Perhaps not the best way to start on the road to matrimonial bliss.
Here are some potential pitfalls:
Unless you want to edit each song, there will be gaps of silence between songs which can be a momentum killer.
Even with Apple's "Sound Check" technology, there are often quite significant differences in volume level for various songs. Someone will have to watch over the player all night to make volume adjustments.
You're going to need an amp and some decent speakers. If you need to rent them you will have to pick them up, deliver and set up the system. Then load it up and take it back after the party.
Timing is important. An iPod cannot build musical momentum on your dance floor, anticipate when to change tempo, musical style or throw in the unexpected zinger or "Guilty Pleasure". As a DJ, I know that HOW I play and mix songs together is just as important as WHAT I play.
The iPod does NOT take requests. And it is limited to the musical breadth of the person who owns it. A DJ is likely to have a library that appeals to a wide audience and crosses over generations and social strata.
If you still want to do it yourself, let's see what kind of music programmer you are! Take The iPod Wedding Quiz:
1. Can you name the TWO rock songs of the past 20 years that have proven to be MOST likely to get a response from a mixed age group?
2. If you had to pick ONE slow song that would have the widest appeal and get the best response, what would it be?
3. What 3 upbeat Motown songs work just about every time?
4. If you got a request to play Country, what song would appeal to even non-Country fans?
5. Name THE 70s Rock song that people seem to NEVER get tired of.
1. "Love Shack" by The B-52s and "Smooth" by Santana. No other Rock songs from the last two decades have as much dance floor appeal.
2. "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole is the hands down winner here.
3. "It's The Same Old Song" by The Four Tops, "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations, "Come See About Me"- Diana Ross And The Supremes. Truth is, there are lots of Motown songs that work well. If you answered with at least one of these, give yourself a full point.
4. "Friends In Low Places"- Garth Brooks. You might try some Jimmy Buffet as well.
5. "Old Time Rock And Roll"- Bob Seger. People still love this song and rush to the dance floor when it is played. Did you say "You Shook Me" by AC/DC? Good guess but that was 1980. If you answered "My Sharona" deduct 2 points.
1-2 correct. Hire a professional to play music or risk the scorn of your loved ones and painful reception memories for years to come.
2-3 correct. You've got potential, you MAY be able to pull this off. If not, you'll have plenty to talk about on your honeymoon.
4-5 correct. OK Hotshot, you know your stuff. Do you have a back up sound system in case of emergency?