Music can make or a break a wedding.

As much as you may be agonizing now over things like cummerbund colors and centerpieces, when your guests go home at the end of the night, the biggest things they’ll remember are how lovely the bride looked and how much fun they had at the reception.

The dance floor is your chance to get your guests involved your big day, and if you blow the music, it can kill the evening before it’s begun. So when you’re considering whether to hire a DJ or play your reception music with your iPod, keep these things in mind:

Personality Matters

A great wedding DJ is more than just a disc jockey; he’s an added form of entertainment. From joking with the guests to introducing songs, DJs bring an extra level of fun you just can’t get from a piece of equipment. This is one of the biggest parties you’ll ever throw, and having a seasoned pro in charge of hosting it can make a huge difference.

You wouldn’t put a robot in charge of performing your ceremony (unless you’ve got some sort of weird space-age theme going on). So why would you put a robot in charge of your reception?

 

Details Matter (And You Shouldn’t Have to Worry About Them)

Professional DJs know how weddings work, and they know how to account for all the little factors and glitches that you, as a DIY bride or groom, may not even think of.

Sure, you put together a lovely “cocktail hour” playlist, but did you consider how much time it will take you to get to the reception from your ceremony (including stopping for pictures with the wedding party)? If you’re running late, do you have a selection of backup songs to fill the gap? Who’s going to hit “play” if you’re not there?

Have you thought about what to play during all the little incidentals that happen at a reception—cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss? Every single one of these things will need some sort of background music, and you don’t want to spend your big day excusing yourself to queue up the next song selection.

You Need to Read the Crowd

A good wedding DJ can adapt the music to the mood of the crowd. If no one’s dancing, they can play a guaranteed hit that always gets people on the floor. (And they can call people out to really get them moving, something an iPod doesn’t have a feature for.)

Even if you set up elaborate playlists for different points of the night, you can’t predict ahead of time when lulls might occur or the mood in the room might change dramatically. Unless you want to spend the night running back and forth to your iPod to switch things up (or you assign an unfortunate friend to spend the night playing DJ instead of dancing and having fun), having a professional in charge of the tunes makes the most sense for a seamless, enjoyable experience—for you and your guests.

Technology Fails at the Worst Possible Times

At the end of the day, an iPod is still a machine, and machines are subject to spontaneous failure at the most inconvenient times. Batteries die. Songs skip. Playlists go missing. Tipsy uncles knock into the table and spill their drink all over the iPod station.

With all the time, money and effort you’re putting into your big day—and for all the years you’ll be looking back on it—do you really want to trust such a huge part of your reception to a piece of equipment?

It’s Up to You, So Choose Wisely

I’m not saying it’s impossible to throw a successful reception with an iPod as music master, but it takes a considerable amount of extra planning and attention to detail during the reception itself. For many couples, it’s just not worth the hassle.

So think long and hard before going that route to make sure it’s something you really want to deal with. If your budget is your main concern, could you cut back in other areas you don’t care about as much?

This is your day, so the choice is up to you. Make it one you’ll remember fondly from years to come.