Many couples wonder if they should hire a live band or a DJ for their wedding. There are two, or even three parts of a traditional wedding celebration that benefit greatly from music: The ceremony, the cocktail hour, and the reception. Deciding what music to have and who will provide can be daunting indeed!
But it is important, because music infuses drama, adds zest, creates a range of moods and expresses emotion. We all have attachments to specific music, whether it was a song that we loved at that very special time in our lives, something we grew up with, or the soundtrack of the moment. Many couples talk about ‘their’ song, and how they will have their first dance to that very song.
I love the use of music during ritual moments in a ceremony. While lighting candles, presenting roses, pouring sand, or any number symbolic actions, with music playing, the moment is intensified. Don’t forget about music while guests are arriving, filling the space with whatever vibe you choose. Of course the processional and recessional are especially important musical moments. I love to see couples recess with a spirited song blasting!
Consider your ceremony and cocktail hour. Some people hire live musicians for a ceremony and a DJ for the reception, or vise versa. If you hire a band for the reception you may have some of the band members play the ceremony/cocktail hour; ask about it. After all, they’re already there. Similarly, an experienced wedding DJ will have a small set up just for the ceremony/cocktail hour, so be sure to ask about that, too. Many combinations are possible (you do the math).
Each generation has its style of music, and when you have multiple generations at a wedding it’s important to have something for everyone.
There are several pros and cons to choosing a band versus a DJ (or a combination).
One reason to chose a DJ might be the price, since you’re hiring one (or two) instead of 4, 7 or 10 or more. But of course prices vary with both DJs and bands, and it may not be your biggest concern anyway. Remember when you come up with a budget – prioritize what matters to you – not what some magazine or website told you.
Space is another consideration. Many DJ’s use a computer set up and don’t really need much room to provide high quality sound. They may also have great lighting options, which adds to the ambiance. Love those ‘up lights.’ Most bands also have lighting options as well.
If there are specific songs you want to hear at your wedding a DJ can provide that! A good DJ will have all your favorite tracks ready. I’ve heard stories of DJ’s who did not fulfill the couple’s song list – which kind of defeats the purpose. But then again, a band can’t possibly know every song in the world.
Be sure to choose a DJ with a personality that fits your style. Your DJ’s behavior will be at the forefront on that night. Read all the reviews, meet with him or her and interview them carefully. The right DJ makes a party fantastic!
Bands are a classic and timeless choice for a wedding. A truly great band (and many wedding bands are made up of excellent musicians) provides a performance, a concert in a way – a real experience. A good band can go with the flow, change the mood as needed and ‘read’ the room. A band can improvise and extend a song when needed or cut it short as well. Remember when you are hiring a band you are hiring real people with some limitations. I believe those limitations are worthwhile for the joy of live music, but that’s me. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some excellent DJs who are so professional and caring – its really heart-warming.
Both bands and DJs are often too loud for my taste. Don’t hesitate to speak with them about your needs – quiet music during dinner then get the party going? Or get the party going immediately? Think about it.
Unless you are on a very, very tight budget I don’t recommend you DIY with your iPod. I’ve seen that go very wrong. DJing is more than just hitting play, it is creating smooth transitions between songs, talking to the crowd, feeling what’s happening and changing things as needed. However, if you are having a quiet luncheon or dinner reception without plans for a dance party – providing your own music could work for you. Beware of family or friends who volunteer to provide the service with no experience whatsoever!
Bottom line – whatever you choose, choose carefully. Quality really matters – if you love music, pay for a great band or a great DJ and you’re sure to have a great time.
Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography for these gorgeous photos.