As you continue navigating the exciting roller coaster that is wedding planning, you will inevitably ask the question: What kind of music do we want at our wedding?! It’s such a fun part of the overall experience, inspiring people to jump up and celebrate without an ounce of hesitation or bashfulness in their bodies. But, of course, you’re bound to face an influx of opinions from others as you make your choice.
The good news is there really is no wrong way to play music at your wedding! And honestly, to each their own. Every couple has their own wedding style, their own musical tastes and preferences, and their own visions about the role music will play in both the ceremony and the reception. So I say do a little research, talk to a few potential vendors, and then own your decision. It’s going to be great no matter what!
To help you get that research process off the ground, here are a few key differences between the wedding band experience and the wedding DJ experience.
Live Playing Time
When speaking with a potential wedding band, ask them how they tend to structure their playing time. After all, they can’t reasonably play their instruments non-stop throughout your entire wedding celebration! Typically, they will offer instrumentals during the ceremony, a cocktail hour, and dinner, and then provide a couple of main sets during the reception itself. During breaks, they will have music playing in the background for you.
Meanwhile, DJs can provide a completely varied music experience and keep it going throughout the majority of your day. Note: Some mix their sets live while others stick more heavily to recordings, so ask about that particular element of their style as well during your consultation. If they mix live, they’ll need breaks just like a band would.
Both can take song requests from your guests! But as you’d probably expect, a live band has a more limited range than a DJ. If your crew is all about song requests, consider a band that is likely to know the songs you know they love and list them ahead of time so they can prepare. And if you think you’d rather go the DJ route, be sure to ask how many song requests they will accept and give a similar list. Either way, your musicians will need some flexibility in order to read the mood of the room and keep your entire crowd engaged.
Depending on the size of the band (or the intensity of the DJ stand setup), you will need to allocate a certain amount of your reception space’s square footage to your music crew. If you hire an eight-piece big brass band, for instance, expect them to require a bit more real estate than a standard DJ rig.
Live musicians and DJs of different experience levels in different geographical regions charge a wide range of rates. But typically, you can expect a live band to be a bit pricier than a DJ because you have to account for the number of players in the band, which usually exceeds a solo DJ a good bit.
An Interactive Experience
Both live musicians and DJs can be super engaging… or not so much. It’s really a matter of the specific professionals you hire, how well they can vibe with your wedding attendees and their level of engagement with everyone as they transition from romantic melodies to total party vibes.
Here, I typically recommend reading reviews of their previous performances or even asking them for a few references. By speaking to someone who has hired them in the past, you can glean a lot more details about what to expect and whether that feels like a good fit for you and your partner.
No matter your choice, I can’t wait to capture amazing images of all of your friends and family members busting a move on the dance floor on your big day! It will be a party to remember — guaranteed.
Happy Wedding Planning!
Sarah Keenan, Photographer
Knoxville, Nashville, Asheville
Outer Banks, Williamsburg, Tampa