Before we got married, I read SO MANY posts about how it's just easier to hire a DJ and not worry about ceremony music on an iPod. Still… I wasn't having it. I wanted to control the music, I wanted to make it our own, and I didn't want to pay out the wazoo for any of it. Our solution? Spotify.
Spotify is a free music service, available in the United States, that works through a player on your desktop (like iTunes), only all of the music is web-based and free! You can find almost anything on it. Like Pandora, the free version includes semi-annoying but necessary ads here and there. Unlike Pandora, Spotify plays your playlists AS IS. You pick the exact songs.
Here's how we pulled it off…
What you'll need:
- A Spotify premium subscription. It costs $9.99 per month and you can use the same account on multiple mobile devices. (The paid version also gets rid of the ads.) I can tell you that it's 100% worth it, but try the free version on your computer first and then make a decision. To use Spotify for your wedding, you'll need the PAID version.
- An iPod Touch. You could probably use a phone, but if someone calls you during the ceremony, even a telemarketer, it could ruin everything.
- Speakers or access to a sound system. We used a small sub with two peripheral computer speakers — a setup easily connected to an iPod via auxiliary cord.
- A playlist.
- A responsible person to control the tunes — someone you trust, who understands how to use an iPod.
1. If you're creating your own ceremony, figure out where you'll need music and have fun with it! If you're more restricted, ask your officiant where music might be appropriate.
2. Download the Spotify app (for an iPod, from the iTunes Store).
3. Make a playlist using your Spotify premium account OR make one from any account and subscribe to it later using a mobile device that's logged into the premium account. (This was our playlist.)
4. Set the playlist so that it's available offline on the mobile device of your choosing. If you're using a iPod Touch, you need wi-fi long enough to “download” the playlist. Spotify lets you download temporary files to your iPod which last 30 days, at which point you'll lose access and have to log back in and re-download.
5. Test your setup wherever you plan to have the ceremony, preferably with some of the same songs you'll be using to see how they sound and how loud they should be.
6. Designate a responsible person to control the music. Give them a script for the ceremony with cues for where they should play each song.
Give your music person a script and a copy of the playlist in advance so they have time to study their cues and familiarize themselves with the music. I had my brother (who was also an usher) do it, and he and his girlfriend knocked it out of the park. But by giving him his cues the night of the rehearsal rather than earlier, we inadvertently caused him more stress than was necessary. If I could do it all over again, I would have been more prepared for his sake and mine.
Don't make people sit there and listen to entire five-minute-long songs. Choose music that can be faded in and out as the ceremony moves along. I stressed about this, worrying about cutting off lyrics, but the transitions will sound better than you might think.
- Keep the playlist in order of your wedding day schedule, for easy use.
- Practice with the music the night of the rehearsal.
- Use the music to cue actions in the ceremony.
- Use an iPod rather than a phone to avoid interruptions.
- Download and check your playlist a few days before so you know it's good to go.
- Make sure your device is charged before the ceremony. (In this case it doesn't hurt to have a second mobile device, even if it is a phone, as a backup.)
- Make sure the music is not too loud, but that it can be heard from any seat.
- Relax. You'll have so much to pay attention to during the ceremony, you won't be as worried about the music as you might think.
A note to our wedding DJ friends:
At Offbeat Bride, we super love wedding DJs (true story: our founder had FIVE DJs and 10 hours of music at her wedding!), and feel that that couples who want to use Spotify are NOT the clients a pro DJ wants. You want clients who are pumped about pro DJing… if someone's considering Spotify, that's just not your target market!
The same is true of couples who self-cater, or opt out of wedding photography… as a vendor, you want clients who value your work, and have prioritized your skills in their budget. In other words, the people interested in this post just are not your people.