August 15, 2013

The Wedding Music Debate: DJ or Live Band?

One of the big decisions wedding couples have to make is the type of entertainment to have. Whether it’s a string quartet, a full 8 piece band, or a DJ, there are many things to consider. While we can’t tell you what to do and we love both, here are some tips to help you make your musical decisions:

(photo:Avenna Studios, Boston Band Ripcord)




  • Practice Run / Showcase: Before selecting an entertainment group to play at your wedding, be sure to see them in action. Stay clear from going to another couple’s reception, but do attend rehearsal or view footage if they have any. Often, bands host showcases for wedding couples to attend. Be sure the musicians you see or hear will be the ones performing on the big day.
  • Background Check: Obtain references – current references!! Make sure they frequently do weddings or private events, not just Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. The clientele for events can vary drastically. So by double checking their references and typical events, this will help you get a better gage if they are the right fit for you. If you are working with other vendors such as photographers, the venue itself, or caterers, ask for their recommendations.
  • Little bit of both: If you really want a live band, but don’t think it will fit into your budget, there are some options you can look into. Instead of hiring a live band for the entire time, hire a few musicians to play during the cocktail hour and then use a DJ for the reception. The price for live musicians increases with the number of people in the band as well, so choose a 4-person band, instead of 8 if budget is tight.
  • Budget: Plan how much you are willing to spend ahead of time, and research pricing. Pick three entertainers, one below budget, one within budget, and one a little over budget and visit all three.
  • Venue: Check with the venue ahead of time on their restrictions. Be sure there are enough outlets for the musicians or DJ, and ask if the venue has a limit on the number of musicians.
  • Requests: If you are big music people, special requests and first dance songs may be super important! Ask them if they know the first song you picked, and/or if they are willing to learn that and other requests.
  • Do you click with them? This is the most important thing to note when choosing any vendor. You should like them, get a good vibe from them and enjoy working with them. If you don’t, chances are they are not right for you, no matter how good they are.

What are some pro’s and cons of having a DJ or Band?

Why we love DJ’s:

  • DJs have an extensive number of songs and genres
  • DJs are able to take requests on the fly and change the entire tempo of the evening with a hit of a button.

Thinks to Consider:

  • If you don’t hire a DJ who shares your musical taste (or at least understands it), you may end up hearing songs you hate (What? He’s playing the chicken dance!). Be sure to make a list of prohibited songs, genres, or games, and ask what kind of music your DJ likes to play.

Why we love Bands:

  • There is nothing quite like the energy of a full live band – the chance to see live performers is something guests don’t often forget!
  • Live Bands can offer a variety of sounds and different versions of songs to keep guests guessing.

Things to Consider:

  • Depending on your band, the song variety or requests could be more limited.
  • You will need to budget higher for a band than a DJ. Bands are typically 2-3x more.
  • You will need to make sure there is adequate power and space for a band, as they require more of both.

What do you look for in an entertainer?