Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that music is the universal language. While some people profess not to know that language too well, there is no denying that, at the very least, music is either a huge mood-booster or mood-killer. You definitely want to get your guests cranking out a few steps on the dance floor, so hiring great musical entertainment should be of considerable importance when planning your reception.
Unless, you know, you’re okay with your older brother trying to impersonate Tupac and rap your first wedding-dance song. Badly.
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Music sets the atmosphere and your guests will most likely judge your wedding based on three things: how touching and pretty your wedding was during the ceremony, the food, and whether or not they had a blast during the reception. As such, it’s imperative that you invest some time into making sure that you, your partner, and your guests are having a fun, stress-free time without having to worry whether or not your wedding’s a bore.
And that starts by researching your wedding entertainment.
Commence the Gnarly Guitar Solo
I personally love me some good live music. Not only is there room for improvisation and sexy guitar solos, but the music just seems so much more lively than mere bass-droppers in a seedy nightclub.
Plus, if they’re a reputable band, they’re pretty much guaranteed to be decent live. It’s like having your own mini-concert at your wedding! A great and professional band should also have a band leader who is reasonably experienced in MCing, so you won’t have to really worry about announcements there.
- I mean, please — who doesn’t love live music?
- It really adds a lot more personality and style to your wedding than a DJ would
- Professional bands should be open to learning one or two songs for your wedding. Perfect if you want to hear one of your favorite songs played live
- The band is probably best suited to those who love some classic rock sounds or softer acoustics
- Live bands will not have as many songs on hand as the DJ
- Maybe you don’t like covers — which limits their repertoire even more
- Live bands generally tend to be more expensive than a DJ, depending on the size and reputation. You’ll most likely have to pay per piece (person). Prices range from $1k-$10k. Plus meals.
- Live bands will need a break = less playing/dancing time
- It’s harder to gauge the talent of a live band than that of a DJ. Hopefully your live band will be amazing. Hopefully.
- Bands can take up quite a bit of space as well, so you’ll have to look at your venue to see where you can accommodate for their performance.
For live bands, I would suggest that you shop around. Gigmasters is a great resource to look for wedding bands around your local area. Additionally, if you aren’t too picky about making sure that your band is a “wedding” band, you might want to shop around at “pubs” or “bars” that have lots of live music. If they have bands performing that you really like, what’s the harm of asking them for their rates?
Thanks to the huge burst in EDM and top 40 hits in general, being a professional DJ is a profession that doesn’t deal with pinching pennies anymore. A DJ doesn’t quite have the same star power and pizzazz as a live band will, but he/she sure will have the party popping. That is, if you do your research and hire an excellent DJ.
The biggest reason why getting an excellent DJ is totally worth the money is because 1) he/she’ll most likely have a huge repertoire of music available already and 2) he/she is excellent at reading the mood of the crowd. That, and because a DJ is usually a solo act, the DJ will be used to hosting or MCing events by him/herself.
- Cheaper than a live band = saving lots of money!
- Is probably experienced in MCing
- Can read the vibes of the crowd and mix music if necessary. Also, best suited for EDM and pop hits (for obvious reasons)
- Can change songs on a fly and make necessary adjustments to suit the mood of the wedding
- The music will just be what you hear on the radio — so nothing too special
- Stay away from the boring/bored DJ. Otherwise, the routine’s just going to go on automatic, and you’re going to regret dropping so much on a DJ when he/she’s literally doing what you could’ve done yourself — plugging in your iPhone and playing from there. You NEED to have a personal interview, if just to gauge the DJ’s personality
- Even if the DJ is cheaper than a live band, he/she can still charge a hefty price upward to one to a couple grand. That, plus equipment. Plus meals.
DJs are becoming increasingly popular, but it doesn’t mean that their one-man act and usage of electronics makes their or your job any easier. Be sure to communicate your DO play songs and DON’T play songs to your DJ effectively, and he/she should be able to take care of the rest.
Be Your Own Entertainment
Be your own DJ! Duh.
But a warning — as devastatingly easy as it seems to throw a playlist together and plug in your Mac or iPod, there’s a reason why DJs exist and charge quite a bit for their services. If you want be the DJ at your own wedding, understand that it will take a considerable amount of time and effort if you want the music to be great.
But don’t get discouraged at that fact. If music is something you really care about and you’re convinced you can do a great job and have time to spare, you should definitely consider self-DJing your wedding. Musical taste is so subjective anyway, you might be able to do a better job than anyone you could hire and be satisfied with that.
- WAY cheaper than hiring a live band or DJ
- You’ll get the music you want, perfectly tailored to your wedding. No unpleasant surprises there!
- The magic of mixing music is an art. It’ll take a lot of time for you to really nail down the playlist — from selecting a good mix of songs that will please all of your audience, to trimming them, to figuring out the order you want to play the songs.
- You’re also going to have to figure out who is going to MC, as it is typically the band leader or DJ who takes over those duties as well.
- You won’t have as much experience or leeway as a DJ in terms of reading how your guests are feeling. When you’re relegated to a set playlist, it can be more difficult to switch around songs at a whim than it is for a DJ.
A former bride, Reddit user /Gluestick05 has an excellent breakdown of what she did to DJ her own wedding — and it turned out to be a huge success!
So brides and grooms, what do you think? Are you going to hire a live band or a DJ? Or are you daring enough to do it yourself?