Band versus DJ: What’s right for your wedding?

“Should get a band or a DJ for my wedding?” may be one of the most common wedding planning questions, but it doesn’t always come with a clear-cut answer. (And the answer can be different for every couple!)

Some couples prefer the live performance of a favorite dance band while others love the energy of a professional wedding DJ. Either way, you should always make sure to do your due diligence when researching both options; there are a lot of amateur DJs and bands that can don’t deliver what they promise (a personalized play list that keeps guests on the dance floor) OR can leave couples stuck without wedding reception entertainment in case of an emergency.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of wedding DJ questions that weeds out the amateurs and warning signs to watch for that indicate your wedding DJ is way less than professional. However, if you’re still grappling with the choice between a band a DJ, this table breaks down the question quickly and easily.

Wedding band versus DJ

  DJ Band
Keeps guests
on the dance
floor
Yes-if you choose an experienced pro! Yes-if you choose experienced musicians!
Cost Yes-Typically lower than a band No-Typically highest cost wedding entertainment
Emcee for
reception
Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch
Play list Endless Limited
State-of-the-art equipment Yes-ask to see the DJ’s equipment (and be concerned if they can’t or won’t show it to you) Yes-usually
Dinner music Yes-ask to make sure it is included, along with these other wedding DJ questions No-not usually but some groups can customize their act so a few musicians can provide soft dinner music and a full dance band later
Lighting Yes-high-quality wedding DJs offer this (usually as part of a package) Sometimes
Back-up plan (in case of illness or emergency) Yes-ask DJs before hiring to make sure they have back-up DJs and equipment (amateurs don’t) Yes-ask bands before hiring because some won’t

Tips for choosing the best wedding entertainer

  • Always research DJs and bands before hiring (i.e. on social media, YouTube, The Knot, Wedding Wire, etc.)
  • Don’t hire a wedding DJ or band without asking important questions (i.e. amount of time included in contract, overtime fees, amount of musicians included in band, etc.)
  • Be careful about hiring entertainers that raise any of these red flags.
  • If you want a particular musician or DJ, make sure you request that individual right away. Some bands or businesses have a list of musicians and pros that alternate performances.
  • Take note of reviews, but be extremely cautious about hiring a friend of a friend that performs at weddings as a side job.

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