Music for the Wedding Reception: Is a Wedding DJ or a Live Band the Better Choice?

Posted on March 8, 2018 in Wedding Tips

Both DJs and live bands have extensive experience in performing at wedding receptions, and both can have a striking impact on the wedding day. It is important to choose wisely.

Live Wedding Music or a Wedding DJ?

One of the most basic considerations in deciding whether to hire a live band or a disc jockey for the wedding reception is the degree of importance the wedding couple attaches to music in its original form. The same song, when sung by someone other than the original recording artist, can sound quite different.

If the intricate instrumental nuances or the sound of an artist’s voice is what makes a song special to the wedding couple, then a DJ is likely the best choice. Songs will be played in their original form. There will be no personal embellishment, and the sound will be exactly as it was when the bride and groom fell in love with the song.

If having the original artist perform the song is not as important to the wedding couple as is the more festive ambiance of a live band, then using qualified musicians may be the better choice.

A live band and a DJ each bring something unique to the table. Deciding on what issues matter most is the key to choosing wisely. It is also possible to have a combination of both, such as a live soloist or a guitarist for the ceremony and a disc jockey for the reception, or perhaps recorded music for the ceremony and a live band at the reception.

Disc Jockey and Live Band Contrasts

  • Song sound: A DJ will play original artists and recordings. A live band will perform its own interpretation of songs.
  • Song choice: Either a DJ or a live cover band who frequently performs at weddings should have a vast selection and variety of songs in their repertoire.
  • Special requests: If the wedding couple wants to hear a particular song that is not on the play list of either the DJ or the band, the DJ will merely seek out and obtain the song. The band will have to learn it. Learning a new song in a short amount of time can produce mixed results. If the song is important, ample time must be allowed for a band to practice the new material.
  • Theme: For theme weddings, a live band can perform in costumes and in a specific musical style, such as jazz, swing, country, big band, etc. A style-specific band can add to the reception theme ambiance. A DJ, while able to don a costume and play some style-specific music, will not have the visual impact of a live band doing the same thing.
  • Venue: The size of the reception area is a factor. A full live band may not be able to keep the volume low enough in small reception halls. A DJ, depending upon his equipment and speakers, can easily adjust the volume.
  • Personality: Either a DJ or a live band can add or detract from the reception experience. Meeting potential candidates in person is the only way to determine if their demeanor is appropriate for the wedding. Watching them perform at other functions is the best way to conduct an audition.
  • Intrusion: Whether the choice is ultimately a DJ or a live band, either must entertain without being intrusive. The bride and groom are the stars of the day and should never be overshadowed by over-the-top performers. Asking for references, and following up, will help determine the satisfaction of others who have previously employed the band or DJ.
  • Cost: A DJ may be as much as 75% less expensive than a live band.

DJs and Live Musicians Matter

It is not better or worse, right or wrong, to choose a DJ over a live band, or vice versa. All that matters is choosing wisely so that the wedding reception is filled with wondrous melodies, not regrets.

The right music and the right provider will create a musical flow that smoothly and beautifully takes listeners from one song to the next. Whether the wedding couple is cutting the cake or dancing that first dance, the music, and those creating it, matters.

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