How to Decide Between a Wedding Band and a DJ

Having the right music at your reception is essential to setting the mood, and making sure people have fun. But how do you know whether to hire a wedding band or DJ? Here are the pros and cons of each.

Wedding Band Pros

* There truly is nothing like live music, which can energize the crowd, and get people more excited for dancing

* Odds are, the sound quality will be better than with a DJ

* Musicians can change the tempo of songs so as to accommodate some fancy dance moves or a tired fiancé
* A specific type of band can truly complete a wedding theme. (For example, a 1930s-themed wedding and a swing band, an Irish wedding and a Celtic band, or fairytale wedding with an orchestra)

Wedding Band Cons

* For many, the cost of hiring a wedding band is prohibitive.
* Some wedding bands can really only play one sound, and have a hard time switching genres or styles. You might find yourself with one that is either too classical, too jazzy, or just plain too wedding-band-like. And, if you’ve got a favorite song, they may not be able to play it well
* Some bands have only one volume: loud. If you’ve got a small reception venue, a wedding band might overpower it
* Those musicians are going to need to take breaks; when the music stops, most will turn on a CD for you, but it won’t have the same energy as live music does

DJ Pros

* Your first dance song can be sung by the artist that made you fall in love, rather than a pale imitation
* Most DJs have libraries of hundreds or even thousands of songs. That means they’ll have music that your friends will like, as well as songs for Aunt Bettie’s generation
* Songs can quickly segue from great dance numbers to the perfect “cutting the cake song” or background music as someone makes a toast
* You shouldn’t have to have any break in the music at all

DJ Cons

* Beware of the bored DJ or worse, the one on autopilot. Because many wedding DJs have their routines down pat, they can get bored. This might mean that they make terrible jokes or try to ham it up between songs. Or, it might mean they are doing everything automatically. I’ve seen an autopilot DJ play songs from the “do not play list”, ask for the bride’s father to make a toast even though he wasn’t there, and announce a couple as Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname even though the bride didn’t change her name and they specifically asked to be announced in a different way! Make sure you meet with the person who will actually be performing your wedding. See if you’ve got a vibe that meshes, and if he/she seems excited about putting together a playlist specifically for your event

Above all, try to go and see the wedding band or DJ actually performing to know if they’re truly right for you. No, you don’t need to crash a wedding at someone’s house, but if they’re playing a reception at an event space, or a club, peek your head in the back unobtrusively and watch for their style and vibe. Frequently a DJ or band leader will act as the MC of a wedding reception, which means you’ll need them to be entertaining but not annoying, polished, friendly, and charismatic.


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