Why Hire a DJ? Can’t I Just iPod It?

photos by Eduardo Lopez

“Oh, we’re thinking of having an iPod wedding…”

We hear this from couples on a regular basis. On the surface, it may seem like a great idea – put you songs on an iPod, plug it in and you’ve just saved yourselves a few hundred dollars. Sweet!

Or is it? Let’s take a closer look…

Timing is Everything – Sitting at home putting your playlists together, imagining how the day will unfold, is one thing but how the events actually happen is another. I always say that weddings take on a life of their own – we can plan and timeline down to the nth degree but once the day begins, it’s like a snowball tumbling down a mountainside, taking on its own momentum and we have to adjust accordingly. What worked in a sterile environment suddenly becomes inappropriate in the moment. Case in point – one couple had an iPod set put together and mid-way through dinner, ‘Baby’s Got Back’ came on. The father of the bride choked on his salad. ’nuff said.

Miscues – You’re about to start your first dance as husband and wife and…the iPod isn’t cued properly. Oops. Take 2.

Releasing the Inner DJ – After a few drinks, everyone is suddenly a Master DJ and wants to rule the iPod or hook up their iPod since their tunes are ‘so much better’. Ever witness dueling iPods fueled by 40 beers and drunken egos? I have my friends and it’s not pretty. If nobody is in charge, then everybody is in charge.

The Friend – Well, how about having one of your friends be in charge of the iPod? That solves the chaos, doesn’t it? Sure, as long as  your friend doesn’t mind working while everyone else is dancing and having fun. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind being saddled with the responsibility of keeping the music going and making sure everyone is having fun and dealing with the gazillion requests and trying to keep the other friends from plugging their iPods in since their music is ‘way cooler’…no, I’m sure they’d love to do it. After all, how hard can it be? Well, from watching this video with amateur DJs, pretty hard apparently…

Why do people want an iPod wedding? Usually to save money. Now, being that we’re in Costa Rica, renting audio gear for a wedding isn’t as easy as it would be in New York or Vancouver. Only a few rental shops in the country have the gear to rent and they require a technician to come along to set it up and make sure nothing happens to their very expensive equipment. And they are likely located in San Jose so you’ve got transport costs now. Being the land of Pura Vida, we pay ridiculous import taxes on things like audio gear, which means folks who rent things out are super careful with their stuff. In the end, renting the gear costs more than hiring a DJ. Yup, you read that right. It costs more.

Which brings us to DJs. I’ve seen videos of what some wedding DJs do in other parts of the world and frankly, they scare me. Seriously. Check this guy out…

Or this guy who, just, well, words fail me…

I understand where the reluctance to hire a DJ stems from. Rest assured, gentle reader, that the DJs here will not play the Chicken Dance (they’ve never heard of it as it seems Costa Rica is the only place on Earth that was saved from K-Tel recording artists,  The Emeralds’, heinous blight upon the wedding world) or the Electric Slide or tell silly jokes or monopolize your wedding with ridiculous games. Nope. Our Costa Rican DJs are 100% free of tackiness. They don’t speak much English so they will avoid blabbing away into the microphone at all costs (your wedding planner will usually act as MC, announcing first dances, cake cutting et al). The DJs just want to play music and keep the party hopping. A month before your wedding, they’ll ask you to fill out a form so they know what music you want and DON’T want played at your wedding as well as the songs for the special dances, cake cutting, etc.

As with many things, what seems expensive by hiring a pro usually ends up saving money (and a ton of stress) in the end. When it comes to your wedding music, don’t take chances – leave it to the professionals so you and everyone else can party the night away without worry.

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