The music at your reception sets the tone for how your guests will view the entire evening. It can send them all home with their toes tapping or grimacing at how awkward the evening felt. This is one reason that I always discuss the pros and cons for all music options with my clients. It's a tricky road to walk between staying on the budget and not skimping on an important part of your reception experience.
If you were one of my brides, we'd start by analyzing what you want for the overall mood of your reception and talk about your priorities. We'd take a deep look at your budget and I'd advise you regarding how I thought we could best accomplish your vision while remaining respectful of your budget. Since we can't have a one-on-one conversation (unless you want to book me), I thought I would share some general thoughts on the debate between having a live band versus a DJ for your wedding reception.
DJs are Generally Less Expensive Than a Live Band
There's no way around this point. Unless you're friends with the band members or pick an newer band that's willing to play for less money, you're going to spend more money on the cost of a band than that of a DJ.
Audition the Band
Especially if you're choosing a newer band that hasn't played many weddings, it's very important that you audition them. You will want to make sure that the style of their music and the songs that they play fit the mood of your wedding day. It would not be a pleasant surprise if they show up at your reception and sound nothing like you were desiring.
Know What Types of Events Your DJ Plays For
Similar to auditioning your band, you will want to know what types of events your DJ normally plays for. If they normally play at sleazy nightclubs, they may not have the song list or personality that you're desiring. Be sure to ask what types of songs they play and how they normally dress for an event as a way to "audition" them.
Bands are More Limited on Songs While DJs Guarantee Sound + Songs
Bands often have a limited repertoire of songs that they know and play. Some take special requests if given advance notice, but not all of them do. If you like the types of songs the band sings and the style they play them in, then they might be the perfect fit. If not, DJs guarantee the style and sound of the songs you want played because they are playing the original artist's version. Which matters more to you?
DJs Can Offer Light Shows
DJs often offer light shows to accompany the dancing. You can always request that they not use this equipment, but it can be a great aid in helping guests get up and dance.
Both Can Sometimes Act as Emcee
Both DJs and bands can act as an emcee for your reception. Ones that have worked weddings before are generally aware of what announcements need made during a reception, but a coordinator (like myself) will generally go over what needs to be said and work with them to keep your event flowing right on track.
Bands Offer Excitement, DJs Equal Flexibility (Generally)
Bands can be very exciting for your guests, particularly if their style suits your event and crowd. DJs, on the other hand, offer flexibility. They can go with the flow a little easier than a band can. This is not to say that these skills are exclusive to either party, but it's a general rule to consider.
The Number of People You're Responsible to Feed
With both a DJ and a band you will be responsible to provide their meals for the evening. This number generally increases by quite a bit with a band because there are more band members than a single DJ. If your venue or caterer offers vendor meals, that can be very helpful, but it's something to consider either way.
Some Bands Will Also DJ
There are some bands that will also DJ events. They will have a playlist set up for breaks between their sets and keep the party going with a mix of live and recorded music. This can be a great option for those having trouble deciding between the two!
What option do you prefer?