Every couple has to make choices during wedding planning: about the wedding venue, food, décor, ceremony music, wedding reception music…the list could go on and on. When it comes to wedding reception music, brides and grooms have three common wedding entertainment options: a band, DJ or the do-it-yourself entertainment option. You’ve probably heard of the DIY option: a wedding reception with a mp3 player and a speaker or some other kind of equipment playing in a corner while the guests dance.
So what is the best entertainment option for your wedding reception? The answer varies from wedding to wedding, and couple to couple. We’ve done our best to lay out your options for you with the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision—and get working on it. If you choose a DJ or band, the “best of the best” calendars fill up fast so you need to start contacting companies now. If you choose to go DIY, time to get started! You don’t want to be up working on your wedding reception music the night before.
Pros of a DJ
Emcee. A DJ can make announcements for your evening and let your guests know everything from the entrance of the married couple to a warning about a car being towed in the parking lot.
Dinner background music. This depends on the DJ, but many DJ’s offer couples the opportunity to have some quiet background music during dinner, or during the ceremony if needed.
Customized play list. A good DJ meets with the couple to determine what kind of songs they want played at their wedding reception (read how to craft your perfect playlist here). Note the catch: good. A bad DJ takes a one-size-fits-all approach, and doesn’t ask for any input from the couple.
Quality equipment. A quality DJ has state-of-the-art digital equipment that delivers a quality sound during your wedding reception, as well as a great time.
Access to “entertainment extras” (i.e. lighting, photo booth, etc.). Again, this depends on the DJ, but a lot of DJs offer “extras” as part of their wedding reception packages, such as lighting, enhanced sound options, and photo booths.
Cost. A DJ is typically cheaper than a band.
Back-up equipment if needed. A quality DJ company has back-up equipment, and personnel, to handle situations where the equipment fails or the DJ cannot attend.
Cons of a DJ
Cost. A DJ costs more than the DIY option (depending on how much you pay for the equipment and music).
Pros of a band
Emcee. A good band can make announcements and keep things moving throughout your wedding reception, including your guests.
Excellent play list. If you choose a band for your wedding reception, obviously you love their sound, giving you the perfect play list for your big night. A top wedding band can even take requests from your guests.
Quality sound equipment. A good band has excellent sound equipment that can work at almost any wedding reception, giving you and your guests a fantastic night.
Atmosphere. Do you have a particular wedding theme you’re trying to achieve, such as a retro wedding? A band can create the unique atmosphere you want with a sound that fits you as a couple.
Cons of a band
Cost. A quality band costs far more than a DJ or the DIY option. Usually bands won’t provide background dinner music without an additional cost.
No back-up if band can’t come. Unlike a DJ, you won’t have a back-up plan if the band can’t come.
Pros of do-it-yourself
Cost. The cost of the DIY option can be the cheapest, especially if you already have many of the songs downloaded for your wedding reception playlist.
Customized play list. Obviously, if you are the one to create your own play list, the play list is full of songs you want played.
Cons of do-it-yourself wedding entertainment
Time to compile play list. Wedding planning takes a lot of time, and downloading and crafting a play list (and testing your list) is adding another ‘to do’ on your already long checklist.
No emcee (or someone has to take their time away from festivities to do so). You won’t have someone to make announcements, such as for the entrance of the couple and bridal party. The other option is that you, or one of your friends or family, makes announcements, but then you have to take time away from having fun. You also may have to rent a microphone so everyone can hear you, which adds to the cost.
No back up if equipment doesn’t work. If your Mp3 player doesn’t work on your big day, you’re the one scrambling trying to repair, and get your wedding reception music up and going.
No extras. Unless you invest serious funds in lighting, or go out of your way to find a company that rents lighting, photo booths, or whatever other “extra” you want at your wedding reception, you’re not going to get those “extras” that you get with a DJ.
If your wedding budget is a concern, don’t automatically assume that you can’t afford a wedding DJ or band. Contact local DJ’s to get quotes and find out if the cost is within your budget. From there, you can make a decision about the right wedding entertainment that leaves you and your guests dancing the night away.