iPod Receptions

by Jen

Just because you’re having a budget wedding doesn’t mean you have to short your guests on silly dancing at your reception. If you have a friend who is willing to play master of ceremonies – or don’t mind skipping an emcee entirely – you can have a perfectly groovetastic reception with just a sound system, an MP3 player, and a little planning.

Pick songs you each love.
It’s your wedding, so love without shame. Kelly Clarkson? Sir Mix-a-Lot? ABBA? If it makes you happy and gets you moving, just throw it on the playlist and know that even the crabbiest music snobs will go ahead and shake their booties and assorted other body parts on your wedding day. Plus you’ll have video footage of them doing interpretive dances to “I’m Too Sexy” to use for blackmailing later.

Pick songs you both love.
Again, it’s your day, and it’s your launch into official couplehood, so now is the time to break out the bands that you discovered together, the songs that make you both feel silly and carefree, or even get schmoopy if you want to. You don’t have to explain – just dance and enjoy, or give each other a secret smile and wink from across the room.

Toss a few bones to other generations.
Even if you and all your friends are completely into acid trance or Indian club music, it is both kind and good manners to throw in a few songs to let the fogeys on your guest list feel like they are still more than capable of getting down. Toss in a little disco, a few choice Motown tunes, and even a few seriously moldy oldies for your oldest relatives. No, you don’t have to put on anything you absolutely can’t stand, but do try to choose with a generous heart. People will dance to anything once the party gets going – and you will too.

Yes, you each get a few vetoes.
Marriage is all about compromise, so you might as well get used to it now. If any song makes one of you curl up in a ball on the floor, off it goes. You are, of course, honor-bound not to abuse this privilege. No nixing all of your spouse’s picks by a given artist. OK, maybe if he or she likes The Pussycat Dolls.

CHECK THE LYRICS.
I can’t stress this precaution enough. When you’ve heard a beloved song enough times, it’s easy to forget that it’s about cheating on a girlfriend or killing an abusive husband and serving him to the bridge club as stew. Or that it’s just plain filthy at points. Take a step back and really listen to – or better yet, read through – the lyrics of each song. Pretend you are reading them out loud to your grandmother. I guarantee you that you’ll make at least one catch that will make it totally worth your time.

For real: Is this danceable?
I have been to one iPod reception that was an unfortunate misfire. The bride and groom did indeed pick some great songs, and they were clearly songs that meant a lot to them. They just forgot to do the bop test. The songs were terrific road trip songs and great sit-and-listen-to-‘em songs. And maybe even good talk-about-the-lyrics songs. They just weren’t dance songs. Sure, watching the crowd try to find a way to dance to them added a level of enjoyment to the reception, but not the one the bride and groom had intended.

If you really, really want your guests to hear all your favorite songs, then by all means make them a CD as a wedding favor. Just don’t expect it to be in anyone’s heavy rotation for more than a day or two after the wedding.

Recruit a pal or two.
Even if you don’t want someone giving a play-by-play of the wedding, you probably will want to turn the music on and off at certain points, or you may want to switch between the romantic playlist and the rumpshakers. You’ll also want someone who isn’t you to make sure the volume allows for both dancing and conversation and to keep an eye on the overall mood of the dance floor.

You will probably have a couple of friends who will be more than willing to do this, and one who two who will leap a little too hard at the chance. Aspiring DJs should be allowed to submit songs for possible inclusion in your playlist, especially if you really trust your pals’ taste, but no messing with the tracks you’ve selected.

Any friend who helps out with iPod monitoring is officially allowed to put “Mixmaster of Love” on his or her résumé.

Have a dry run with the equipment well before the reception.
MP3 players are designed to be plug-and-play, but there’s no reason to get cocky. The appetizer course is no time to discover software incompatibilities or that you’re missing a cable. Make a quick checklist of every last thing you’ll need with the sound system (Don’t forget extension cords!), and make sure you and your vendors agree about who’s bringing it.

Transfer your playlists to two backup iPods.
Better safe than sorry – you never know when a battery will run down faster than expected or a glitch will get in the way. A little over-preparation will keep Murphy’s Law at bay and make sure the dance hits keep on coming. You’ll be able to entertain your guests for hours. And blackmail them for even longer.