When it comes to choosing the entertainment for your wedding, this is always one of the first questions you’ll ask yourself. Band or DJ? I’ve seen couples who just couldn’t decide, and some who would probably never agree on which they preferred.
As a Wedding DJ & MC based in Phoenix, Arizona—I think it’s obvious what my preference is. However, and I still felt like it would be a good idea to write out a comprehensive list of the pros and cons for both options.
And hey, if this post makes you go with a band, that’s perfectly okay. If you decide that a DJ is right for you, you should also check out Questions You Should Ask Your Prospective Wedding DJ, Top Songs for Reception Events, and Getting the Most Out of Your Wedding DJ!
Before you decide, read on to find out the pros and cons of having a band or DJ. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to be too biased!
Band or DJ? A List of the Pros and Cons
Pros: There’s one thing a DJ just can’t provide, and that’s live music. Live music really allows your guests to experience a performance, and enjoy the atmosphere. A good bandleader will assist as a master of ceremonies at the reception, and the band should be able pay attention to the “vibes” in the room, and adjust their performance accordingly.
Cons: Bands have limitations that DJs don’t, and they tend to be more expensive—there is usually more people involved to pay. A DJ will have a variety of music on hand, while a band has to stick with what they know. Depending on the number of musicians in the band, you may need to have a lot of space at your reception. Before hiring a band, ask how much space they will need, and what equipment they carry.
Pros: A DJ can play any song out there, and will know great songs from just about any genre. It’s easier to give a DJ requests, to sing along to the songs a DJ plays, and for the DJ to improvise if they see that something just isn’t working. Most DJs also work as MCs, so you’re killing two birds with one stone by hiring one.
As an added bonus, DJ tend to cost less than the average band—something that’s important keep in mind when working with a wedding budget. In a recent article, I found that most couples should allocate between 7% and 9% of their wedding budget towards music and entertainment.
Cons: If your DJ isn’t charismatic, or has an unfriendly personality, it could bring the whole party down. That’s why it’s so important to adequately interview your DJ before hiring, and ask to see a video of a live performance. Additionally, a DJ could also take up a lot of reception space, depending on the amount of equipment they bring. Always ask in advance!
Overall, there are some common factors you should keep in mind when deciding between a band or DJ. You need to ask yourself what type of atmosphere you want at your wedding, how much variety you want in the music, what your budget is, and what kind of space your reception will be in.
The type of music you pick can help solidify your theme. Decide which music genre best reflects the vision you have for your wedding, and determine whether a band or DJ would better deliver on that vision.
A DJ tends to have more variety in their music, and can play just about whatever you want. This makes special requests easier. Also, if you have a special song, a DJ can play it just the way you like it, with no changes. If you want a specific genre/vibe, they can create a playlist of that as well. With a band, the sounds are very consistent, but they can only play what they know. However, the atmosphere created by live music is also very fun.
A DJ is usually cheaper than a band. While DJs can get expensive, you get what you pay for. With a band, there are usually more people involved, and the cost reflects this. You’re paying for more people.
Both a DJ and a band can take up a lot of space. They have their own speakers, instruments, and other equipment that must be accounted for. When choosing your reception space, keep this in mind. When a band has more people, they usually take up more space. For a band, you may need a reception space that has a specific stage area.
So, band or DJ? It’s completely up to you. What I recommend is always do your homework. Be smart when you hire, and know that usually, you get what you pay for.