Our DIY wedding – the music

We’ve been to quite a few weddings and big parties over the last few years, and one thing became painfully apparent after one or two – event DJs are absolutely, embarrassingly awful and there is no way that we were going to have one ruin our party. We’ve heard DJs consistently call the guest of honour by a wrong (but similar) name, play tracks they utterly hate, and totally ignore those cds of “special songs” that they really, really wanted to hear on the night. We’ve heard so much bad and inappropriate music at weddings that James and I even have a running list of Songs That Should Never Be Played At A Wedding Ever (which includes Toni Braxton “Unbreak My Heart”, 50 Cent “Candy Shop”, and Shaggy “It Wasn’t Me”, which we’ve all heard firsthand at weddings).

Now, really, I don’t say this lightly – we are both huge music lovers. We both worked in student radio for years (mostly to get the free cds!), and I’ve worked on the fringes of the music industry for the last eight years (remember the Glastonbury dress?). So not only do we love music, but we know good music, and we know instinctively what order and flow to put the music in over the course of an evening when you want to get the dancefloor going and keep it going. We know when to play obscure (but danceable) indie music, and when to throw in those nostalgic, floor-filling trashy hits (“Baby Got Back”, I’m looking directly at you!).

The best way for us to achieve this was to control the music entirely ourselves. For the dinner music, we just ran the Dinner Playlist off James’s laptop (stashed under a table) and two small-but-powerful speakers, set to a quiet level in a corner of the ballroom. But for the dancefloor we used four big floor speakers hooked up to a small mixing desk of James’s and controlled by a single iPod and a playlist which we put together in the months leading up to the wedding. Since we used equipment that we already had (with the exception of a cable frantically loaned to us by the National Computing Museum at Bletchley!), the music cost us absolutely NOTHING.

If you’ve ever run a house party from a single computer, you’ll know that a big glowing screen full of a big list of music is absolutely irresistible to drunk people. They can’t help but change the order, skip tracks, and generally mess with that playlist you’ve spent months agonising over! So to avoid this, we ran the dancefloor off an iPod rather than a laptop, and hid it. One person still managed to mess with it, but they got a slap, and the damage was easily undone. Another option would be to run it off an iPhone (on Airplane Mode) so you can have a keylock on the screen to prevent “wandering fingers”.

Ceremony music

We were restricted by the civil ceremony laws on when we could have music playing during the ceremony itself, so we had to submit a cd with a specific set of songs (with no religious content allowed. No problem there!), and a friend of James’s (also a radio veteran) on the controls.

First dance

Our first dance was the only true secret we kept from absolutely everyone. We knew for years that it had be to Xploding Plastix “Treat Me Mean, I Need the Reputation”, but since it’s a fast number with a very undanceable syncopated slow bit in the middle, James used his music editing prowess to seamlessly cut out the slow part so the entire song was mostly just the fast pace broken electronic jazz.

We had lofty plans to take tango lessons (ha!), and in reality, we didn’t even get a chance to rehearse this once. The first dance was my #1 anxiety for the entire day. We totally bullshitted it, and it turned out great. I think. (You can judge for yourself with the video evidence.)

After our sweaty, relieved bows, there was then four hours of awesome, awesome dancefloor action. I danced for about 3hr45min of the 4 hours, I swear (the break was only to make a dent in the cheeseboard).

I always think it’s nice to see a dress enjoying itself. And I’d like to point out that I’m not even drunk in this photos (I was seriously too busy talking to people to get more than 2.5 glasses down me all day long). That is how good the music was.

And finally, we had to pick a last song of the night to be played at midnight, and for this, we chose Rokysopp “You Don’t Have a Clue”, for all its “this party hasn’t ended” sentiments.

Just one more wedding post left (and it’s a good one!) before I can move on to the America trip, a few pattern magazines, and the two things I’ve made since we’ve been back!

Most of these photos (the good ones, anyway!) are by Paul Tanner at Sixpence

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