The Truth about iPod Weddings and DIY or Family Friend Wedding DJs

Considering asking a friend or family member to provide music at your wedding?  Has a friend or family member offered to DJ your wedding for little or no cost as their gift to you?  Or, are you considering the prospect of DJing your own wedding?

Are you concerned that no DJ can provide the music you truly want at your wedding?  Are you thinking of renting equipment, using your computer, iPad, or iPod, and becoming your own DIY DJ on your wedding day?

iPod Wedding

If your friend or family member truly is a professional wedding DJ, you will most likely have a fantastic wedding with them.  Asking a few simple questions (found on numerous “How to Hire a DJ” websites) will help you to determine whether or not this is the case.

However, if he or she is simply someone who “has a lot of music” on their computer with little or no experience as a professional wedding vendor, you could be headed for a real problem on your wedding day.  Trying to direct the people and events and attempting to coordinate the music on your wedding day can be a very challenging task for someone who is not a trained, professional DJ.  Wedding ceremony and reception timelines move very quickly and your other vendors will expect to be working with a trained professional who can keep pace with them on your big day.

DJing your own wedding is next to impossible.  With the multiple demands placed on your time during your wedding day–visiting with your guests, taking photos, simply *being* a bride or a groom–there’s little time to add in being your own DJ as well.  As the owner of DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style I always tell my couples that their main jobs on their wedding day should be to eat, drink, dance, and celebrate.  Hire experienced vendors, create a plan with them in advance that reflects your unique style as a couple, and you can leave the worry and the work to the professionals.

Here are three big reasons why you should hire a professional wedding DJ to play music and MC your once-in-a-lifetime event:

1. Organization

While many couples are looking for less “talk” or crowd motivation from their DJ, these are concerns that can be easily addressed with a professional wedding DJ.  An experienced DJ will listen to your ideas and tailor their MC work to fit the overall style of your event.

However, there are times when you do need a professional DJ to act as your MC at your wedding.  Who will make introductions?  Who will announce events?  How will your guests know that you are transitioning from dinner to dancing?  Who will coordinate with your other vendors?

With the amount of time and money you’re investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that your carefully planned event comes together with perfection.  A highly trained wedding DJ will serve as your MC, coordinating with your team of vendors, organizing your wedding party, and directing you and your guests from one event to the next–all while playing the right songs at the right time!  From your first dance to your toasts and from dinner to your last dance, a professional wedding DJ will use your timeline, input from your vendor team, and his or her own training as a public speaker to create a natural flow of events for you and your guests.

2.  Reading the Crowd

Certainly, wanting to avoid typical wedding music and looking to have a “non-cheesy wedding DJ” experience is very important.  However, it doesn’t mean that you have to try to Do It Yourself or ask a family friend to be your DJ or MC.  In fact, you could end up having an even worse experience on your wedding day by trying to take on too much yourself.

Having a solid Must Play List and Do Not Play List the reflect your personal style is a great first step to a successful party on the day of your wedding.  However, an experienced DJ will also be able to “read the crowd,” paying attention to what is going on both on and off of the dance floor.  Sometimes your guests need one extra song–or one less.  Sometimes the mood on the dance floor changes and a planned song request needs to be moved up, moved back, or switched out for a different one.  Years of training and experience lead a DJ to knowing when to play the perfect song that fits that moment on your big day.

3.  The Back-Up Plan

Most couples either have or have access to a computer, iPad, or iPod full of music. Renting a speaker system and a microphone (or using equipment provided by a venue) is relatively easy as well. However, when it comes to DJ gear, having the equipment is only half the battle. Knowing how to use it and what to do when something goes wrong is where hiring an experienced DJ makes all the difference.

Each venue space is unique and requires a professional sound check and constant adjustments throughout your wedding to make sure the that music isn’t too loud and that the microphone is crystal clear.

In addition, having back-up gear and a back-up plan is a must on your wedding day. DJ equipment can fail for a number of reasons and there is little to no time during a wedding to try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. A professional wedding DJ will bring a complete back-up system to your weddding and have multiple “what-if” back-up plans (built on years of experience) to keep the music going at your once-in-a-lifetime event.

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek in the Mix Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios

Asking a friend or family member to help you with a Do It Yourself / iPod Wedding could end up costing you much more than the little bit of money you might be saving–there’s no reason to ruin your big day over concerns about the playlist or customizing the music to fit your style as a couple.  In fact, any truly professional wedding DJ will agree that your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists should reflect your personal style and the type of wedding you want your guests to enjoy.  A truly professional DJ will make these lists of songs an essential part of your unique wedding day, using professional MCing to keep a careful balance between food, photos, dancing, special moments, and everything in between!




DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Phone:   845.235.0080

What Is “Typical” Wedding Music? (What to ask for or avoid in planning your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists!)

What is “typical” wedding music?

What music should you either ask for or avoid when creating your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists?

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Spinning with Style Sarah Immel Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Spinning with Style Courtesy of Sarah Immel Photography

Music Sets the Tone

As the owner of DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style, I know that choosing music for a wedding is a matter of personal taste.  In choosing songs for your wedding day, you want to find titles and artists that reflect your own personal style as a couple.  From the grand entrance to the last dance, the music you choose (or choose to avoid) sets the tone for your event as much as the venue, the food, the flowers, etc.

Most of us know what we like in terms of music.  How does the playlist on our iPod fit into a wedding?  Also, what other lists of songs should a couple consider when planning music for their wedding day?

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl’s Eye Studios Photography

Must Play and Do Not Play Lists

When you put in the time and effort to plan a truly unique wedding that actively involves your friends and family throughout the festivities, filling the dance floor will be a natural part of your wedding day.  Your friends and family want to celebrate your marriage, and getting up and dancing is one of the best ways to do so!

We all have music that we personally love–and music we can’t stand to hear.  Our iPods, computers, and phones are full of our favorite songs that we like to “listen” to.  But how does this music translate to “dancing” at a wedding?

One question I often encourage my couples to ask is, “who are all these other people at our wedding, besides the two of us?”  What about your family and friends?  It may seem like an obvious question, but when you begin to make your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists, it’s easy to lose sight of your friends and family.  What music do you think that they will get up and dance to?

As a professional wedding DJ in the Hudson Valley, NY, over the year it has been my experience that a short, specific list of 10-15 songs is a good length for a “Must Play” List.  A 10 or 15 song “Must Play” List leaves room for a professional DJ to read the crowd and take guest requests at your wedding reception.  Your “Do Not Play” List should also be no longer than 10-15 songs — just long enough to acknowledge the types of music or specific songs you would like to avoid on your big day.

It’s important to strike a balance between the songs you love the most and songs that will give your guests an opportunity to dance to the music they know and love as well.  If your Must Play List is full of music only you know (and your guests are not familiar with or don’t like), they won’t have the opportunity to help you celebrate on your wedding day by dancing.  Similarly, if you fill your Do Not Play List with all of the most requested, most popular songs that people expect to hear at a wedding, your guests might be disappointed at your event.  No one wants an empty dance floor at their wedding!

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl’s Eye Studios Photography

“Listening” vs. “Dancing” Music

For titles and artists you truly love, but can’t see anyone dancing to on your big day, consider times such as cocktail hour, your entrances, dinner, and cake cutting to share your favorite “listening” music with your family and friends.  Also, if you know that a unique “dancing” selection is important to a particular person or group, indicate that on your wedding planning paperwork, so the song can be played at the right moment with the right people there to enjoy it.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Party Classics

Oftentimes, my couples will ask me for the same list of songs for two very different reasons:  they want to make sure that their family and friends can enjoy certain songs that they know and love, but at the same time, they want to avoid titles or artists that they personally dislike.  Phrases such as “typical,” “usual,” “cheesy,” “non-cheesy,” “party classics,” “fun,” and “wedding music” can all be used positively or negatively for this very same list of songs, depending on your point of view!

All of my couples at DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style receive comprehensive song lists featuring “classic” wedding selections from the 1940s to today’s hits, as well as “current” music that is popular now.  The classic song list is continually updated based on notes I gather after each wedding I DJ, and is organized into a variety of categories to make wedding planning easy.  The current song list is updated regularly as well, based on the radio-edited pop, rock, hip hop, dance, Latin, and country music I receive each month from Promo Only, “The Industry’s Complete Source for Music.”

These lists are extremely comprehensive and offer a variety of ideas for wedding planning.  But what about something simpler?  What if you want to quickly identify the “typical” music that guests often hear and request at a wedding–either to add to your Must Play List or your Do Not Play List?

A great song list that I share with my couples comes courtesy of Mobile Beat magazine, an industry resource written by and for Mobile Entertainers, including Wedding DJs.  The list is called the “Mobile Beat 200,” and can be found online here at

The “Mobile Beat 200” is based on all of the requests given to thousands of DJs by their customers in advance of their wedding, party, or event.  As such, it’s often described by my customers as a real “love it or hate it” list–because so many types of events around the country are represented on this list, any couple is sure to find at least a few songs for both their Must Play and Do Not Play Lists here, if not more.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

“The Dance Floor Was Packed All Night Long!”

Every wedding is unique, and so is every group of friends and family.  Songs that work at one event may not work at another.  Must Play and Do Not Play Lists are incredibly important tools that you can use to tell your DJ in advance what types of music you think your friends and family will enjoy, and what songs you do not want to hear.  Finding a balance between showcasing your unique style as a couple and taking your guests’ taste in music into consideration will ensure that the dance floor will be packed all night long.  By considering your own personal tastes, as well as who is coming to your wedding and what music you think those family members and friends would love to hear (or avoid), you can create a wedding day that reflects your unique style as a couple–a celebration of your marriage set to a soundtrack of the music you love the most!




DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Phone:  845.235.0080