You’d be surprised how many couples agonize over the decision of hiring a DJ or band for their wedding. It does not strike them as a major detail to worry about until someone asks, “hey, what about the music for the reception?”
We know how important music is for the reception. It’s the element – more than the speeches or the wedding cake – that can electrify people into motion and take to the dance floor. How much they dance into the wee hours of the morning is a sign of a well-planned reception. If you can persuade a couple of men who dislike dancing because they have two left feet to boogey onto the dance floor, then you know you picked the right DJ or band.
Band or DJ? Dancing is a form of celebration, it’s the ultimate expression of a romantic union. People dance in weddings not only to shake their booty but it’s their own version of a fertility dance , wishing the newly-weds a large brood and hence, prosperity. So the music’s the thing.
But let’s tackle the main issue here: should you hire a band or DJ for your reception?
Hiring a Band: Pros and Cons
We can think of at least three advantages of hiring a band:
Beats canned music anytime
You’ll want your guests to identify with a group of live singers. Even non-dancers will enjoy watching and hearing a group of talents. They can also serve as entertainers, dishing out jokes in between numbers and accommodating the requests of tireless dancers. When your band is energetic, they’re more likely to communicate that energy to the crowd and get them on their feet.
Delivers on sound quality
Do you remember how you used to get excited whenever there was a live concert in town? You’d line up at 4:00 in the morning just to be first in line when the ticket windows open at 10:00. Then when you got to the concert, you so admired the richness and texture of the singing that you realized it was well worth getting up at an ungodly hour and spending your month’s allowance. Bands – especially the experienced ones – come well equipped to deal with the acoustics of reception halls. They can mix and blend their instruments so that when they play, they don’t drown out the conversation or become inaudible.
Accommodates your wedding theme
Certain bands make their living by specializing in a particular wedding theme. For instance, if you have a Brazilian-theme wedding, you can look for bands that sing in Portuguese and can also belt out modern songs in English. There are Celtic bands too and there are bands that play only Elvis Pressley tunes if requested. We’re not sure there are many DJs who keep a huge inventory of a particular genre of music so a good talented band is your best bet.
As for the disadvantages of hiring a band:
While “live” is always better, it can be expensive. You can book a good band for anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000. However, couples who have no budget restrictions will spend up to $10,000 for a band to play in their wedding reception.
For couples who don’t know any bands personally or who can’t obtain recommendations from friends, they have to deal with an agent, which can be cumbersome or efficient, depending on how you look at it. The agent will need to know: type of theme requested, location, date and time and any special production requirements. When you finalize arrangements with an agent, ensure you’re guaranteed a certain number of hours and a certain number of songs played. Some couples, too busy with other details of the wedding, end up surprised when the band they hired will only play for two hours or will sing only X number of songs. So be sure you know what you’re signing for.
When your wedding day is approaching and then you suddenly remember that you haven’t tackled the issue of music yet, bands can be difficult to come by when your wedding is just a few weeks away. Suggested time for booking a band in most cases is 3 months.
Some bands who don’t have much experience or are just starting out can have inferior equipment that don’t stand up to the acoustics of the hall. Instead of dancing, your guests might ask for ear mufflers or hearing aids!
DJ: Pros and Cons
Here are the benefits of hiring a DJ.
Up close and personal
You got to admit, some DJs have that irresistible personality and can engage your guests. Even if they don’t say a word and stay in the background, their ability to “read” the audience is a plus. A DJ will scan the hall and see how many seniors, middle aged people and teens are present and then will come up with the right music mix. A seasoned DJ will catch the “pulse” of the audience. If he senses that people are melting or fading, he’ll know just what kind of record to put on – maybe along the lines of “Born to be Alive.” If he senses some hyper, he’ll probably put on a softer melody like “A Certain Smile.” That should put the romantic mood back on!
DJs who have been in this business a long time will usually have a huge inventory of different music genres. They’ll have classics, Broadway songs, hip-hop, jazz or hard rock. Plus you get to tell him what you like and don’t like. Based on your preferences, he’ll arrive at the reception hall with suitcases full of the music you love.
Most DJs know what it’s like when there are different age groups involved. Just like a radio DJ welcomes requests from station listeners, a wedding DJ will expect requests from guests that he’ll only be too glad to accommodate.
It goes without saying that hiring a DJ will cost you less money than hiring a live band.
But hiring a DJ can have its disadvantages. To name a few –
A tired DJ will only make your guests feel tired. Some DJs overbook themselves because they want to make as much money as they can. You’d be setting yourself up for a bit of frustration if your wedding party is the sixth party he’s working for that week. DJs are humans are can get tired or bored after awhile. What do they do? They either fall asleep behind the curtains or crack jokes that are inappopriate and call attention to themselves.
When you ask a DJ how long they’ve been a wedding DJ and they lie, that lie will be evident when they don’t have enough records to spin at your party. Or else you end up with a wedding DJ that only has hard rock or music of the 1920s. Bad news.
Some DJs turn off audiences. Have you ever switched to a radio station and listened to a DJ that was obnoxious? When you’re initially negotiating with a DJ, he may strike you as charming and the right music man for your wedding, but on your wedding day he sticks out like a sore thumb. If you have the slightest doubt, don’t sign on the dotted line. An alternative would be to ask for recommendations from your wedding planner or your hotel.
Now ask yourself: how many wedding receptions have you attended so far? Of those you attended, how many featured a live band and how many had DJs? Which ones did you enjoy the most? You’ll be surprised at how you can make a decision in a snap simply by trying to recall what your past experience was!