Choosing Your Wedding Entertainment: Band or DJ

“Should I get a band or a DJ for my wedding?”

If you’ve asked yourself this, you’ve come to the right place. Below we share some advice when it comes to selecting your wedding entertainment. Let’s talk money first, as that is what makes the budget go ’round… isn’t it?

Rose McGowan chose a folk band; photo by Callaway Gable

Simply put, DJs are less expensive. Why? Because they require less man power. Many wedding bands can have 5 to 12 band members. Even if they are on the budget-friendly side, you will still need to pay for each person on site. A DJ on the other hand, requires one man… sometimes two if he or she has a technician assisting him.

We suggest considering the age and demeanor of your guests when choosing between a DJ and live music. Younger folks tend to enjoy the energy around dancing, which may be easier for a DJ to emulate. Playing the exact songs that we all know and love from the radio on full blast is heaven for many dance patrons. Conversely, if you have a more shy or even mature crowd, consider live music. They can dance if they want to, or sit and enjoy the performance.

Kelly Preston and John Travolta enjoying the tunes of a DJ; photo by Studio Castillero

There are many bands that specialize in a certain style of music, and it would behoove you to select a band that falls within your desired genre and style. We love it when specialty bands join the wedding, even if only for a short time. We love seeing musicians dress up within the theme of their musical style, as it can also enhance the aesthetic of your wedding. Imagine a French-inspired wedding with a beautiful woman singing “La Vie En Rose,” complete with a vintage microphone and romantic attire. It’s very moving to be able to witness such a performance.

There are times when our clients have chosen to do a combination of live music and a DJ. It can save you money, but also satiate the need to include live music at your event. We often see a harpist booked for ceremony and cocktail hour, and a DJ arrive for reception. This amps up the party vibe and is a great way to close out the evening.

Ashley and Brian couldn’t help being on the dance floor thanks to their DJ; photo by Studio Castillero

Here’s a list of pros and cons adapted from brides.com:

Booking a DJ

Pros:

  • More affordable than a band (DJ rates typically start at about $500 for five hours; bands are often a minimum of $3,000)
  • Will play any song you want
  • Can work in small places without a lot of equipment
  • Can keep music going during the entire party with no lull
  • Is trained to choreograph the reception and make announcements, which means you also get an MC to aid in the flow of the program

Cons:

  • Can be a dance floor buzzkill if not the right personality
  • Improvisation is tough if, say, you need to cut a song short on the fly

Booking a Band

Pros:

  • Makes for a more dramatic presentation (think stage presence)
  • Has unique personalities
  • Can lead guests to the dance floor with infectious energy
  • Still provides a show for guests who don’t dance
  • Can evoke more emotion, as they are providing live music

Cons:

  • Higher rates
  • Does not have the full repertoire of a DJ, no matter how great

Live music provided by LIV ENTERTAINMENT for Hila and Weston Cage; photo by Heather Kincaid

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