DJ or Band? How to Decide on Music for Your Wedding Day

A band or a DJ are two options for musical entertainment at your wedding reception. There are pros and cons to each choice. Your budget will play a role in determining what option is best for your wedding. Money is not the only determining factor. Things like your venue’s space restrictions, the music you like, and your invitees will also affect your decision.

It All Starts with the Budget

If you are reading this, you are likely somewhere along your wedding planning journey. You have already seen how expensive wedding planning can be. How flexible is your budget for entertainment? Do you have money set aside for entertainment? Or is your budget set and you are hoping to get as much as you can for the least amount?

Hiring a band or live entertainment costs money. You can hire your uncle’s band to play, but you will get what you pay for. You can pay a little more and get trained musicians. On the flip side, for the price of a so-so band, you could get an awesome DJ. The cost per person for a band is what you should expect for a DJ.

How Do You Envision Your Reception?

Next, think about how you envision your perfect reception. Do you envision an energy-filled jam session? Or are you picturing an even keel mix of crowd favorite songs? Answering these questions will help you book music talent that will give your reception the right feel.

COVID-19 has changed what people expect from musicians. In some cities and some venues, having an in-person musician is practical. In other locations, it may be best to book a virtual concert. This is where a musician or band does personal performances over Skype.

When you know what you want from your reception, you can start finding the entertainers you want to hire. You must provide some details about your event, including the location, crowd size, and how much you have budgeted for entertainment.

Once the event is confirmed, they will probably ask you to pay money to secure the reservation. The money may be held in escrow and then given to the entertainer once the gig is complete.

It is surprising the types of entertainers who work at weddings. Besides bands and DJs, you may consider dancers, magicians, musicians, and comedians. It all depends on your vision for your wedding.

Energy Versus Choice

A live band is going to interact with the crowd and energize the crowd even if it means doing a few breaks between sets. A DJ will provide constant music without interruption, giving the crowd the ability to hear the songs they want as they are recorded by the original artist. If you know that your invitees have a wide range of musical likes, a DJ might be the right option for you.

You should also think about where you need music. Do you need music at the wedding ceremony? Or do you only need it during the reception?

If you need music in multiple locations, a DJ is going to have a harder time as they need to set up and tie into the sound system in different locations. However, with a live band, you have the guitarist play acoustic music for the ceremony. If there’s a cocktail hour, the guitarist and a couple of others can play some jazz. The entire band can play dancing music for the reception. Sometimes, hiring one band and splitting their services up like this is more cost-effective.


Hiring a band is going to be more expensive because there are several people to pay. However, a live band offers energy that you cannot get from a DJ. Ask a live band to give you videos of other performances they have done. This will give you a feel for what to expect during your wedding.

DJs will play the music you want when you want it. A good DJ should be able to connect to the feel of the crowd. You need to be clear with a DJ about the experience you want. You may work with them to create a customized music list so that a more conservative audience does not feel shocked by the music that’s played and a more liberal audience does not feel like some of their favorite songs are left out.

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