Choosing Between a Band and a DJ

Determine which music option is best for your reception.

Choosing Between a Band and a DJ

Photo: Susan Bordelon

One of the most important elements in a great wedding reception is the entertainment. A question commonly asked is whether to utilize live music or disc jockey entertainment when planning the music for your wedding. There is no right or wrong answer, and there are benefits to either option – for example, while live music offers the character and excitement of an actual performance, disc jockeys can offer convenience, selection, authentic versions of songs, non-stop music, and greater volume control and generally lower prices. The key is to figure out what is most significant to you and what option best fits your own unique event.

Live Entertainment
Live entertainment can provide an undeniably classy element to your reception and may even raise the glamour quotient on your celebration, depending on the music genre or style of the band that you select. Having a great band can provide just the right touch to keep the guests talking about this special occasion for years.

Once you’ve decided to hire live entertainment for your wedding, it’s time to choose the type of atmosphere that you want for your guests as well as the musical genre or genres you like best. These decisions will help guide you to the group of bands that you will select from. The bandleader’s personality is an important component of the band, as he will not only be making several introductions but also controlling the tempo of the whole party. With a good sense of timing, the bandleader will provide the right music for all of the special events of the reception. Additionally, the bandleader should work closely with the photographer, videographer, catering/banquet manager and wedding coordinator so that the reception flows smoothly.

Of course, your budget will probably play a role in selecting your band. Some bands vary in price due to number of players, experience level, leader fees, travel fees and sound equipment required based on the size of the event. Different packages will include a variety of musicians based upon the degree of involvement in the ceremony, cocktail and reception portions of the wedding.

If you are booking your music through an entertainment agency, the band’s agent should be willing to review all of the pertinent details of the wedding ceremony and reception. An experienced agent for the selected band should be able to offer suggestions for all of the significant songs required at the wedding.

Disc Jockey
If you decide that the song selection and style of a disc jockey will fulfill your entertainment wishes, you will need to select him or her very carefully to ensure your event runs smoothly and is the way you have envisioned it. Although a good disc jockey will offer suggestions for ways to make your event the best possible party, he or she should also be open to your ideas and input.

Just as a talented bandleader is crucial to a band’s success, a disc jockey’s personality, emcee ability, coordination efforts and sense of mood perception and pacing are just as important as his or her extensive knowledge of music. Make sure the disc jockey you hire knows how to read guests, vary the format of music to please the entire audience and also is willing to take song requests from your guests.

A professional disc jockey should schedule a personal consultation well in advance of the wedding date, to determine all of the details of the reception, including an itinerary of events and music selections. During this consultation, make sure to ask questions, such as the type of equipment that is used. The equipment used by the disc jockey is very important. Make certain the disc jockey has professional sound equipment and has backup equipment readily available. Also make sure the schedule of the wedding day is agreed upon. The disc jockey should arrive at least one hour before the start of the reception. During this time, he or she will set up, do a sound check and confer with the catering/banquet manager and photographer/videographer and review the itinerary as to when certain events will take place. Finally, discuss all of the specifics regarding price.

As far as cost for disc jockey entertainment, that will normally be determined based upon the requirements for your event such as the hours of the performance and number of guests. Like all services, disc jockeys vary in cost, but typically are lower than for live entertainment.

The bottom line is that no matter which option you choose, both live music and disc jockey entertainment bring their own unique brand of excitement and magic to the celebration of marriage. Make the choice that is right for you, and look forward to being able to relax as a guest at your own party and fully enjoy one of the most memorable days of your life.

Opening photograph by Susan Bordelon