Choosing the right evening entertainment for your wedding is really important. Getting all of your guests up and dancing can be the climax of an unforgettable day and a chance for everyone to celebrate by showing their moves on the dance floor. Ideally, everyone from your nan to your young nephew will be inspired to have a good boogie. But as long as enough of the guests are dancing, then you know you’ve made the right choice!
So to help, here are some expert tips as to whether you should choose a DJ or a band:
Firstly, with a DJ the most obvious advantage is if you’re looking to save budget, then it’s almost always a less costly option (with the exception of more well-known DJs). You can choose a lot of your tracks and have the widest variety of genres if that’s what you want. The original versions of lots of dance floor hits are the ones that have been danced to all over the world for good reason. A great DJ will read the crowd and play tunes accordingly. The possible downside of this is that it could feel just like being in a club or bar and therefore not as special.
A great DJ should be attuned to your needs, so if you’re talking to them and they’re showing a lot of interest in the kind of music that you like, then you know they’re not just ‘going through the motions’. The best ones mix tracks together and are creatively working on the order of songs in real time. No two weddings are the same, and so no two wedding DJ setlists should be either!
In terms of variety, DJs offer a great choice of music, so they should be able to please almost everyone to an extent. A bit of Frank Sinatra at some point? Maybe some Stormzy? All very possible with a DJ, but unlikely with a band. Also with the original song, it’s not unusual to have a spontaneous sing-along! On the other hand, there are not usually many surprises as it’s a version everyone has heard before, whereas a band might have unique versions of favourite songs that can be more exciting on your wedding day.
Consider the issue of space also. A DJ will typically require less space than a band and too small an area may inhibit the band’s performance. Ask your chosen venue about which works better from previous weddings. If you have a large hall, then sometimes a band also looks better than just a DJ. But if the room is set up accordingly this should not be a deciding factor.
Image by Rich Page
The most obvious reason to have a band is that you’re getting live music. Anyone who’s been to a gig knows that it’s impossible to replicate that atmosphere with a DJ. Guitars, drums and live vocals – it’s a very unique sound and at its best can create an electric atmosphere.
Yes it’s true that no band can play in as many styles and genres as a DJ. However the best ones will have a great mix of pop from the 50s or 60s through to the present day. So although limited to the sound of the the singers’ voice and the instruments played, the actual tunes and genres will vary in the sets (which are usually 2 x 1 hour or 3 x 40 minutes with breaks). Ask any band you’re considering hiring for your wedding for an example set list. Also ask them if they know your first dance song choice. If they don’t, most professional bands will be happy to learn it for you. There can be more anxiety though, as the DJ can use the exact version that you’ve rehearsed to.
The other advantage of a band over a DJ is that the lead singer may be more interactive (and indeed the whole band might be). This can be fun and break down any barriers, encouraging guests to dance more with the live atmosphere. Some DJs can also do this, but may be happy just to play great music and watch more than participate. On the flip side, you may not want this and too extrovert a lead singer could perhaps be a bit too much – it’s not a gig and the real stars of the show are you and your loved one, not the band.
Wedding DJ and Band Combined
It’s worth mentioning that there are also acts that combine DJ with a band. So a DJ plays tracks and musicians play and improvise in real time, whilst being on the dance floor. Instruments like saxophone, trumpet and electric violin work well in this kind of set up, and sometimes a singer as well. If you really cannot decide between a DJ and a band because you love elements of both, this can be an ideal solution and it’s also a bit different!
Making The Right Decision
Finally, it can simply come down to personal preference and which band or DJ appeals to you as a couple. If you really enjoy any examples and live videos from the DJ or band, then you’re half way there. Availability and budget, seeing that they are professional and providing a great, friendly service can be the deciding factors. It’s really not possible to see one as better than the other, but essential to be aware of the differences and then make the decision between yourselves. Good testimonials and any examples of them performing can help you make the right choice too. Think about your guests, but if you love the DJ or band and are both dancing the night away, the chances are that everyone who’s there for you will love them too!
THIS IS A GUEST FEATURE WRITTEN BY // Liquid Strings // Entertainment Agency
Brian Lee runs Liquid Strings, a London-based agency providing high quality live music and DJs for weddings and parties.