Let’s face it, music can either make or break the wedding reception.  Because your choice of song can often define your big day and set the stage for the party, you want to be prepared. While it may seem like a small detail in an otherwise large event, music is one of the biggest factors in determining the vibe at your venue.  Whether you’re hiring a DJ or planning for live entertainment, a few things should be considered before making the big decision.


Your music choice is an important aspect of your big day as it sets the tone for your wedding. Make it memorable! When picking a musical genre, it is important to decide, with your partner, what kind of tunes best reflect your own personalities, along with the theme and location of your wedding.  

If you are getting married in a house of worship, you may want to consider romantic strings. Weddings in a banquet hall or museum may be a good spot for more unique options such as pop hits or old-school funk. Once you have decided on a genre, try asking yourself if you picture the scene with a live performance or played from a track.  Unless you’re willing to hire one specific band or wedding singer, a DJ is often the way to go for pop and rap combinations, while big band or orchestra music is better done live.


The general rule of thumb is that DJs often cost less than a live band.  Think about it this way – DJ prices usually vary depending on the day of the week, plus normally only require 1 or 2 people with little equipment and setup time.  Bands can come with more people and equipment. Plus, since they are in such high demand, the price will often be much higher.


Wedding Dance Off | The Great Debate: DJ vs Band | Sound Force by Wonderly Creative | The Pink Bride® www.thepinkbride.com

Sound Force by Wonderly Creative



Deciding on a DJ or live band can often come down to how much space you have at the venue.  If you have a small reception hall or a large bridal party with limited space, there may not be room for a live band, whereas a DJ can often fit into a corner.  Check with the reception site to see if there are any restrictions on the number of extra people and equipment you can have as well as any requirements regarding the electrical power supply or noise limitations.  


Keep in mind the demographics of your guests at the reception.  If you plan on having much older guests at the wedding, you may not want to have a band they may be unfamiliar with or music that could be viewed inappropriate (the same goes for a wedding that will have children attending or other young people).



Band: Pros and Cons

If you’ve ever attended a concert, you know how fun the environment it creates can be.  A live band can get the crowd excited and match the music to the feel of the room, while keeping the energy of the reception upbeat and positive.

Pros: Live music is almost always a definite crowd pleaser.  You and your guests will get the full experience through energetic vocals and in-person visuals.

Cons: Although bands are a fun way to bring excitement to your reception, unless they are a wedding-specific band, they often only play one genre of music.  This could lead to less variety in music choice and can leave your guests wanting for something different. Bands often cost more and can be either too loud or too quiet during the performance.



DJ: Pros and Cons

In today’s age, disc jockeys have become artists and designers, often mixing their own eclectic styles with lights, voiceover, and audience interaction.  Unlike live bands, DJs offer a variety of music to choose from and can be a good choice for the couple who is looking to please their entire audience.

Pros: A DJ with a good stage presence can often make for a fun reception atmosphere.  Because they have a whole toolbox of music to choose from, you won’t be restricted to one genre or musician.  DJs often cost less money and take up not nearly as much space as a live band.

Cons: Although DJs are known for their amazing emcee skills, there is always the possibility you could end up with a less-than-stellar personality.  For example, he or she could make the wrong song choices or could end up cracking annoying jokes all night.


Guests Dancing at Wedding | The Great Debate: DJ vs Band | Sound Force by Erin McCall Photography | The Pink Bride® www.thepinkbride.com

Sound Force by Erin McCall Photography


Before the Wedding

See Them Live: It doesn’t hurt to get a preview of what you may be getting on the wedding day.  You should try to see the DJ or band perform before you commit to booking them so you will know if they will work for your theme and if you ultimately like the way they come across on stage.  This could include the way they dress, how they talk to the crowd, and their performance style. If you can’t make it to see them live, watch videos online or listen to them on a music streaming platform.

Ask for Referrals:  Ask the DJ or band for the names of other couples who booked them for their wedding.  Try talking to the couple about their experience and things they would have changed about their performance.  There is nothing worse than booking someone only to learn a horror story later on that could have saved you from any unforeseen events at your own reception.

Communicate Before the Big Day: One of the worst mistakes you can make is not have an open line of communication with your performers before the wedding day.  You don’t want to be meeting or talking to them for the first time at the reception. Set up a time to discuss your expectations for them beforehand.  Let them know what your music selection plan is and if there are any genres, artists or songs they should stay away from during their time there.



Are you getting a DJ, band, or both for your big day? Let us know in the comments below!