As important as your wedding day is, there are only a few elements that your guests will take away and remember for years: the food and the music. As much as we all love a good meal, I think it was Shakespeare who said it best, “If music is the food of love, play on…” It’s the music that truly has the power to make or break the wedding reception, so choosing who should play at your wedding is a huge decision to make.
Whether it’s the theme tune to your favourite movie or that advert that makes you cry, music makes the world go round, and it’s an essential part of your wedding day. It creates the mood and gets everyone on the dance floor to party their socks off. You want your music to be a perfect reflection of you as a couple and a great medley of tunes for your guests to love and party to all night. While you might have a list of your favourite tunes coming out of your ears, you might be stuck on whether to have a wedding band or DJ? We compiled a list of pros and cons for each, so you can just sit back and enjoy the music while you choose.
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Your Wedding Style
Your reception music will set the tone for the night—make sure it fits with your wedding style or theme. Are you hosting an intimate dinner party or hoping for a big, lively reception that brings the house down? You want music to enhance your situation.
A string quartet may be the perfect choice for an elegant sit-down or more intimate dinner party setup. A cover band is a better option if you want your wedding guests to get up and sing along while they dance. You may go for a full jazz band if you and your partner frequent jazz music clubs for date nights. Live music can really drive your theme or style at home.
Wedding DJs are a better option if you consider the variety the spice of reception life. They can simply provide a much wider breadth of music genre options and can essentially play any song you request. Bands typically come prepared with a previously agreed upon set list—requests aren’t always on the table.
Ahead of your wedding, you and your partner will work with the DJ to come up with a list of must-play songs and, alternatively, a list of absolutely-do-not-play songs. Some wedding DJs welcome requests from wedding guests, others don’t. Be sure to ask any wedding DJs their preferences in this regard ahead of booking.
One last thing on this: While a wedding DJ will play pre-recorded songs (it’s great—your guests will know them and the party won’t stop until the music does), live wedding bands can improvise a bit. A band can work in standout instrument solos, change lyrics, and add any fun twists they see fit, which can be fun for you and your guests, too.
Average Wedding Band Cost
Wondering what the average cost of a wedding band is? According to Wedding Wire, live bands cost an average of $4,500. Couples who hire bands usually spend somewhere between $2,850 and $6,488. Like with all wedding vendors, prices vary based on your location and other factors, like the size of the band.
If you hope to hire a band but want to save money, look for bands in your local area. If a band needs to travel for your wedding, they may charge extra. Bands with fewer members are also more affordable, and two or three great musicians can get the crowd just as electrified on the dance floor as a big band. Although most bands charge a flat fee for a block of time, some might charge by the hour. If your band charges by the hour, consider having them arrive after cocktail hour to cut down costs.
To fit live music into your wedding budget, start researching bands early in the wedding planning process. Besides considering your budget, you want to book your favourite band before another couple does! Be especially mindful of this during wedding season, which starts in late spring and ends in the fall.
There’s nothing like a live band to get your wedding guests excited! Since it’s always fun to see musicians play in front of you, bands bring something extra magic to your big day. Live music is a more unusual experience reserved for special occasions, so there’s no better time than your wedding day to book a band.
If you have a favourite band, what better time to hear them play than at your wedding? For those with a specific taste in music, a band may be a better alternative to a DJ. Since bands specialize in particular genres of music, you can have your playlist filled with songs you love. For example, going for a jazzy vibe? A live jazz band will have your guests out of their seats and bopping to the music!
Although guests expect to dance at a wedding, not everyone may be dancing away the whole night. In this case, a band will still be entertaining to watch while sitting back and taking everything else at the reception. Since band members each have their personality, guests will be engaged as they play. A good band should be able to adapt to the mood and needs of guests, so the musicians can interact with the guests.
The major disadvantage of hiring a band is the cost. Bands are significantly more expensive than DJs, so when it comes down to it, many couples choose a more affordable option. Despite the price of a live band, other couples still hire one because of the many benefits.
Bands also take up more space than a DJ. When booking your venue, consider how much space the venue as if you’re leaning toward hiring a live band. Ask your venue if there’s enough space for the band to set up and perform as well as if the venue provides any sound equipment. Although bands can bring their equipment, it never hurts to have some extra for backup. If a band needs to travel, they may not want to transport all of their equipment, so you may have to rent sound equipment yourself.
Although a band’s music can tailor more to you and your partner’s specific interests, bands have less overall variety than DJs. While guests can request songs from DJs or bands, a DJ can play more songs, which may get more guests on the dance floor. A band will be limited to their repertoire and what they’re comfortable playing. Before you book a band, speak with the band members to familiarize yourself with what songs they can play at your wedding reception.
Finding the right DJ for your wedding is an important decision. Check out our range of the best wedding DJ at Brighton Savoy.
Hiring a DJ: Pros, Cons, and Cost
Average Wedding DJ Cost
Looking for a more affordable option for music on your wedding day? Wedding Wire says that the average price of a wedding DJ is $1,000, with the range of prices falling between $780 and $1,495. This is less than half the price of a band, and a DJ is still a fantastic choice for your wedding. Plenty of couples hire a wedding DJ and prefer the diversity of music over a live band.
Other than the cost, the other major benefit when hiring a DJ is the variety of songs you’ll be able to play at your wedding. Whether you want to dance to pop hits or disco music, DJs have it all. Guests can also request songs at your wedding, and the DJ will most likely be able to fulfil any request, so there’s bound to be a song or two for anyone to enjoy. Even with the wide range of music DJs have, it’s worth taking a peek at their songs to make sure your favourites are there.
While DJs have remixes and covers, a wedding DJ can also play the original song from your favourite artist. When you hire a wedding band, they are only going to play their own music or covers, so if you have your heart set on hearing Frank Sinatra sing “Fly Me to the Moon” for your first dance, a DJ is the best choice for you.
As a band, a DJ will be able to engage the crowd. A DJ will also take shorter breaks, if at all. While bands need breaks (this should be discussed in the contract), DJs can keep the party going all night long. With no awkward transitions or lulls in energy, you and your guests are free to mingle on the dance floor at any time.
You don’t want a DJ who makes you cringe! Before you book a DJ, see if you can meet them in person to see if you can get along well. Most importantly, go over a list of songs you want to hear at your wedding and the songs you would dread to hear. Do you hate group dances? If the sound of the Cha-Cha Slide isn’t for you, then make sure it’s on your no-play list!
Unlike a band, DJs are less adaptable. If a song needs to be slowed down or sped up, they don’t have too much control over it while a band just take the tempo back. Despite this, a DJ can still be sensitive to what the crowd enjoys and play the music that people respond to well. Some DJs also have a pre-made setlist and only allow a certain number of requests – even from the bride and groom themselves!
Can You Have Both a Wedding Band and a DJ?
If you love music and can’t decide between a band or DJ, it is possible to have both. However, most couples will pick either a band or a DJ because of price limitations. While you may be able to pay a DJ or band hourly, you may still need to pay full price for both because your DJ or band won’t be able to play another wedding or venue that same night. Select companies do have band and DJ combination packages for die-hard music lovers, or you can hire your own band and DJ separately.
When hiring both a band and a DJ, think about the mood of your wedding. A live band and DJ can shift the atmosphere drastically, so be mindful about sudden changes in wedding music and tone. Sticking to either a band or DJ makes it easier to keep the party consistent and fun for all. However, if you do opt for both, talk to your band and DJ to make any transitions smooth.
Deciding Between a Band and a DJ
Perhaps one of the hardest decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding reception is choosing between a band and DJ. Many aspects go into your decision, atmosphere, cost, and range of services. So, let’s dive in.
The entertainment you select for your reception will set the mood for the entire evening (or afternoon if you’re doing a brunch wedding!). One thing to think about is the fact that not all bands are the same, just as not all DJs are the same. Folks who lean towards bands typically think DJs are either boring or obnoxious, which isn’t always true. And folks who lean towards DJs think bands are limited in the genre, which also isn’t always true. A party band can play a wide range of music and provide an exciting atmosphere. A fun DJ can also keep the party going without being obnoxious by talking too much but instead being interactive with leading the crowd. In both cases, you should expect a fun evening for your guests with either.
The difference between good and great is almost always cost. A great wedding band typically charges between $7,500 and $10,000. Keep in mind, they have to divide that among the band members, the booking agent, etc. A great wedding DJ will charge between $1,500 and $3,000. Factored into the DJ’s costs are equipment, insurance, advertising, and value of services. There are cheaper bands and DJs, but if you’re looking for the best and most exciting environment, these are good ballpark figures to consider.
Check out our top list of the best wedding DJ at Brighton Savoy.
Range of services.
This is where you need to ask questions to your band or DJ. Do they offer multiple setups outside of reception for cocktail hour and ceremony? Do they provide MC services on your wedding day and help direct the timeline of events? Do they take breaks? If yes, for how long? Do they take requests from guests or have a pre-crafted playlist? The answers to these questions should factor into your decision as well.
At the end of the day, you are going to make a selection that best fits you and your guests. Any great wedding band or DJ is ready to help you celebrate your love.