Live Band or DJ? How To Pick The Soundtrack To Your Wedding

“How was the wedding?”
“Gorgeous, the bride looked amazing.”
“Was it indoors or outdoors?”
“Outdoors.”
“Live band or DJ?”
“Live band.”

It’s one of the most defining traits of the modern wedding – the soundscape. There’s lots to consider when it comes to choosing between a band or DJ, and it’s not just about personal preference or cost (which are both huge considerations) but also what kind of experience it creates.

Recall the last wedding you went to. Possibly one of the first things that comes to mind is the dance floor. It’s where the intersection of friends, family, and new in-laws come together to bust out some moves and make some memories. The energy is completely different with a live band, sure, but is that something you want to bring into your special day?

            Let’s dive in to the pros and cons of the live band…

Pro: Live bands are a dynamic experience. Even if you don’t find yourself grooving on the dance floor, you’ll probably be entertained by their performance from the table as you tuck in to your second slice of cake. They’re entertainers, it’s their job to keep your attention.

Con: A live band can become the centerpiece of the reception. Do you want conversationalists to be pushed outside or towards quiet corners? Do you think your older relatives might not enjoy a mandatory concert? It could be just the right amount of entertainment, or it could push the evening over the top, it all comes down to the band.

Pro: Live bands notoriously play covers of your favorite songs. There’s nothing like the rush of recognizing your favorite song from college being performed live right in front of you. Cue screaming the chorus at the top of your lungs! Cue the call and response!

Con: You have more control over the music choices if you go with a DJ. You can hand him a list of pre-approved songs, or at any point in the night go and make a request.

            Now the pros and cons of the DJ…

Pro: It’s much, much cheaper. Live bands can range from anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 for a few hours of performance, and sometimes even more than that. If you’re getting married out of town, you have to pay for the band’s transportation and hotel rooms in addition to the fee. You can find a DJ n any city you’re traveling to, and they’re generally much more cost-effective.

Con: It’s harder to find a DJ you really like and trust. With a band, they have a tape that you can listen to and review before signing off. What they sound like in the audition is what they’ll sound like at your wedding. A DJ reacts more to the energy and requests of the audience, so it’s harder to tell beforehand if they’ll be a good fit for your crowd.

Pro: A DJ doesn’t take up much space and doesn’t require a stage. They can also be really versatile, announcing the cake-cutting and the first dance and so on. DJs can help organize the night but don’t really command the attention of your guests.

Con: If you have a lot of out-of-towners and friends and family who don’t know each other well, this might not be a plus for you. You might need a more entertaining focal point to bring everyone together and give them the common denominator of music to bond over the course of the night.

At the end of the day, the decision of choosing the soundtrack of your evening is a big decision, but not the defining one. What makes your wedding is the people who attend and the celebratory spirit of your friends and family. And of course, if the happy couple has the night of their life, no one will remember what songs were playing in the background.