Wedding Music – Band or DJ?

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Deciding between a live band or a DJ is a hard question that a lot of brides find themselves asking throughout the wedding planning process. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself stressing over this question arguably more than the choosing your venue, wedding planner, dress, and color scheme. This decision will set the tone (no pun intended) for the entire vibe of your wedding. Instead of letting that overwhelm you, I’m here to help you weigh the pro’s and con’s and walk you through the questions you need to ask yourself, your venue, and your potential wedding music vendors:

wedding music - Readyluck

Photo Credit: Readyluck

Important Things to Consider When Deciding Between a Band or a DJ

Before reaching out to a DJ or band, you and your fiancé need to ask yourselves a couple of questions that may help narrow your choices:

Things to ask Your Wedding Venue

  • Do they have a noise requirement that you have to stay within?
  • With your guest count, how big of a space will your venue allow for a band or DJ?
  • Can they accommodate for a band or DJ?
  • What type of hookups do they provide?

Things to ask Yourself

  • What does my wedding budget allow? How much are we willing to spend?
  • Is my wedding themed? Do I want music to be a certain genre or am I looking for variety?
  • Am I set on a certain original playlist or am I willing to have covers performed?
  • Am I looking for a full dance floor and an energized crowd or a large variety of music?

wedding music - corbin gurkin photography

Photo Credit: Corbin Gurkin Photography

Parts of the Wedding That you Need Songs for

It’s important to keep in mind the parts of the wedding where a song choice may be extremely important for you. Start to brainstorm what you’d want or decide that you’re okay with some musical flexibility:

  • Processional – The bridal party walking down the aisle. Normally soft music.
  • Recessional – Bride and Groom exiting as newlyweds. Exciting, upbeat, but not overbearing.
  • Cocktail Hour – Soft, light music. The point is to start to get people in the mingling mood.
  • Reception Entrance – Your first appearance as Mr. and Mrs. since walking up the aisle hand in hand. Normally this blends into the first dance.
  • The First Dance – Traditionally this is the most remembered song of the night, alongside the father/daughter dance.
  • Father/Daughter Dance – We recommend a sweet soft song. Some modern couples are stepping outside of tradition and making this a fun surprise mashup.
  • Reception Music – Since the reception lasts the longest, you normally won’t provide all of the songs you want to be played. Alternatively, it’s easier for everyone if you provide a do not play list (think YMCA or Chicken Dance).
  • Cake-Cutting – Decide if you have a preference on this song or not. A fun option for this time is “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle.
  • Bouquet and Garter Toss – A wedding tradition that is a fun way to engage your guests. Get your single ladies (and men) on the dance floor with a little Beyonce!

wedding music

Is a Wedding Band the way to go?


  • Bands bring a certain energy that inherently attracts guests to the dance floor and ensures that they stay there (and have the times of their lives) all night long.
  • They will create an experience that will make sure your guests remember your wedding and how much fun they had.
  • Even for people who don’t dance, they provide awesome entertainment.
  • Each song is unique to them. You won’t have a run of the mill experience.

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  • Price. Bands can range anywhere from $2,000-10,000.
  • Lack of variety. Ask potential bands for the options they have on their playlist.
  • Lull in music as the band takes a break.
  • Awkward silences. Ask them how their sets are organized to ensure a streamlined transition from song to song.
  • They can take up a lot of space. Make sure your venue allows it!
  • Sometimes their sound can’t be controlled. Ask your venue about sound limitations.

wedding music - apryl ann photography

Photo Credit: Apryl Ann Photography

Or Should you Choose a DJ for Your Wedding Music?


  • Most DJ’s can play just about any song you want.
  • They are more affordable coming in around $500-2,000 for a 5 hour period.
  • There are no breaks in music since the DJ will be playing all night long.


  • The DJ won’t have the dramatic performance element on their side. Meaning it may not be as engaging for your guests to get on the dance floor.
  • For those who don’t dance, it could be boring to watch the dance floor.
  • Their personality could be not engaging or even cheesy.

wedding music - anna lee media

Photo Credit: Anna Lee Media

When choosing between a band or a DJ, the biggest piece of advice we have is to go see them in action before you make your final decision! As they may be acting as your MC as well as one of the most integral parts of your wedding, you want to make sure you easily get along and you like their style. If you find the one, together you can create a wedding music vibe that will keep the dance floor packed all night!

wedding music - alison mayfield photography

Photo Credit: Alison Mayfield Photography

Which one did you choose? Or did you luck out and find one that did both? Tell us below!

Wedding Music - Band or DJ?
Article Name
Wedding Music - Band or DJ?
Band or DJ? Find out how we chose our wedding music by weighing all of the pro's and con's and asking all the right questions.

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1 Response

  1. Amanda says:

    I would hire a jazz band (they do exist!) for a wedding. The skill of these musicians would mean that they could even improv or jam out and not have to worry about people not necessarily liking a certain song or whatnot.