No wedding reception is complete without music – as the main form of wedding entertainment, nobody wants to be stood in silence on the dancefloor. Once the alcohol starts flowing and the guests get merry, everybody is up for a bit of a dance. From our research, we’ve determined that the thing guests remember most about weddings is the entertainment, so it’s worth carefully weighing up your choices for music.
The options for wedding music fall into two camps: a live band or a DJ. Both have their pros and cons – there’s no objectively right choice, it all comes down to your preference and what you’re looking for. Despite being wedding DJs ourselves, the purpose of this post isn’t to tell you to hire us, it’s to help you weigh up your options and decide what kind of music and vibe you want your wedding to have.
Music is powerful and emotional, and can really help in creating a certain kind of atmosphere for your evening, or help reinforce a theme. What does your music taste say about you, and how would you want this to be best represented at your wedding? Are you a Sinatra fan, wanting some big band swing vibes? Or do you prefer a more synth-driven electronic touch to get the dancefloor filled? Hiring a live band for your wedding may be more suited for more lavish, jazzier affairs, whilst hiring a DJ may be better for pumping dancefloor heaters, if that’s more your style. It all comes down to how you want your evening of entertainment to represent your tastes.
How well does your music taste line up with your partners? Are you more Rocker and they more Mod? Both live bands and DJs will need to play a healthy mix of songs, covering all bases and tastes. DJs might have the edge on variety, due to the sheer volume of music they can carry around with them, whilst a live band may perform better at sticking to a theme and keeping a certain vibe going throughout the night.
On average, hiring a wedding DJ will cost less than hiring a live band, as there will be fewer band members that need paying and less equipment to move. This is not a hard and fast rule however – if you shop around you’ll be sure to find some more price-accessible bands, and some more premium-price DJs. Time of year, set length and day of the week will all factor into the price too.
Make sure you give consideration to the size of your venue – if you’re going for a more cosy intimate site, you may not be able to fit a 12 piece jazz band in with all their equipment and setup. Equal consideration must be given to noise limitations – some places such as registered landmarks may not allow booming sub bass speakers that DJs often utilise. Make sure your venue can accommodate your chosen wedding entertainment before locking them down!
A live wedding band really brings the spectacle to your reception, creating a sense of class and grandeur. Bands should be more than willing to play into the theme of your wedding and help convey the style you want – whether it’s a 50’s jazz throwback, or 90s Britpop ensemble. It may also be worth asking if the bandleader can perform as a master of ceremonies, providing an extra avenue for interaction with your guests and helping to engage the audience and build rapport.
- Live music is always going to feel more organic and natural than a recording. The added pressure and emotion of performance can really tap into the heartstrings, especially with a particularly moving sax solo.
- The live band spectacle usually comes at a higher cost. Also, regardless of how talented a band may be, their music selection and variety will never have the expansive library of a DJ who can fit 1000s of songs on a memory stick.
In the modern age, DJs are quickly becoming the new rock stars, able to tap into a whole wealth of musical styles, genres and vibes. Whilst recordings won’t have the same gravitas as being played live, there’s something to be said about hearing your favourite songs on a quality sound system.
- DJs are generally more space efficient, both in physical space and setting up equipment, and for the sheer volume of tracks they can access – if there’s a list of specific songs you want to hear, a wedding DJ has got you covered and can keep the dancefloor filled all night.
- DJ’s can sometimes feel a bit less personal and can rely on the music to do the talking – you don’t want a robot twiddling knobs behind the decks. It’s always worth meeting your DJs before booking them to see if they’ve got the right personal touch for you.
Before You Book
Whether you choose to go with a wedding DJ or a live band, it’s important that they’re receptive to your ideas and your vision for your wedding. Ultimately, the music and entertainment aspect of your wedding is there to compliment and add to the evening, not override your ideas. If you have a solid idea of what kind of atmosphere and evening you want, the choice between DJ and live band should become clear.
Oli & Tim