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So you can't decide who will play your wedding tunes? When it comes to wedding planning, the question of hiring a band versus a DJ has been a debate between couples for quite some time. Ideally, if you can have both, that would suffice both sides of the argument. Strings for the ceremony and cocktail hour, a couple of cover songs by the band to get everyone involved, and then a DJ for the late night party. But lets be realistic. Most couples just can't allow that within their budget. So here's a little inside perspective of the good and the bad when looking at bands vs. a DJ.
First, when weighing your options it is important to consider your venue. Check with your reception site to see if they're even capable of handling a live band. They know their event space, the acoustics, and whether or not they have the electrical power to supply such equipment. Also, they may have certain restrictions on the number of musicians and equipment you may bring in, and whether there are certain noise limitations. The answers to these questions might just make your decision right there.
So, since we are already talking about live bands. Let us continue and dive right into the pros and cons of hiring a band for your reception.
Who doesn't like the heart-pounding beats of a live band, the classic elegance of a string quartet, or the swinging sounds of a Big Band? I mean lets be honest the music from a live band can get even the most adamant chair sitter up on their feet. However, before you sign on that dotted line there are a few things to consider.
The pros: Bands, like I have said, can get any crowd going. Bands give your guests a special performance. Bands can personalize music to match the theme of the wedding, and a good bandleader can also play the master of ceremonies.
The cons: They are much more expensive, and the price can go up depending on the time of year, the number of musicians, and the amount of time you want them to play. They will never be able to offer the variety and selection a DJ has to offer. They have limited control over their volume, so they can potentially blow away your Grandma whose sitting at the table in the front row. They can sometimes overshadow the bride and groom. They have a long setup and breakdown. And most importantly they take breaks. So you have to make sure that you have some backup entertainment while yours is on their break.
So now onto the DJ. Everyone knows that if you hire the wrong DJ your party will be ending a lot sooner than you anticipated. And with all that money you spent you want them to stay and have a good time. The same, however can go for hiring a bad band. So here are the pros and cons to a DJ.
Pros: First and most importantly Djs generally cost less. Depending of course, on the extras you want. Such as any type of uplighting, light shows, slide shows, etc. Celebrity Djs can be just as expensive as bands. The variety and selection of a DJ is wider than that of a band and close to unlimited if they have access to the internet. They tend to have more experience than bands when it comes to being the master of ceremonies for your wedding. They can control their volume level and adjust appropriately for your dear old Grandma so she won't be blown away during dinner.
Cons: It does not have the “energy” a band provides, so if you do not have a good DJ not many people will be dancing. It is very hard to find a DJ with that stellar personality to keep the party going. You generally have to provide the DJ with a list of songs to “play” and songs “not to play”, since they are more likely to take all requests.
So there you have it. Now I'm not saying that one is better than the other, or one works better than the other when it comes to wedding. When it comes down to it there are two things that will help pick which will be best: Personal taste, and of course budget. Whatever you decide to go with make sure to get references, go see the DJ or Band in action if possible. If not ask for a recent recorded performance so you can see what to expect. Gauge their personalities in person not over the phone, or via e-mail. Provide a “playlist” and a “do not playlist”. Most importantly give your bandleader/DJ a wedding timeline and make sure they are able to pronounce all members of your bridal party, and any other family members that will be recognized.