After the venue is booked and the photographer is scheduled, usually the next “To-Do” item in your wedding planning is to decide on entertainment. This normally revolves around looking at the positives and negatives of using a live band verses DJ service.
Believe it or not, this is probably the most important decision you will have to make. Picking the right entertainment can make or break your celebration. I often tell my clients that 10 years from now, your guest may not remember the exact food or decorations, but they will definitely be able to tell you if they had a great time or not! When it comes to this, here are many things to consider when making this choice. Let’s talk about the top four.
First and foremost, what type of mood are you trying to create? Do you want relaxing background music, or do you want a big party where everyone dances the night away?
Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, the personality of the band or DJ is going to be the driving force behind the atmosphere. Bands are great at putting on a show, but are somewhat limited in their ability to go with the flow of the event. DJ’s are flexible. A seasoned DJ tends to be a better Master of Ceremony making introductions and announcements to help the coordinator stay on schedule. DJ’s also do not take breaks. There is nothing worse than building good momentum with your guest and then killing the mood with a break.
In relation to hiring a band verses DJ service, make sure to spend ample time speaking with your band leader or DJ to learn their personality. A cheesy band leader or a DJ with no personality will likely ruin the fun.
The first question to ask when it comes to variety is the age range of your guest. Most people are surprised to learn that the average age of all their guest will be close to 40. The more important thing to understand is that the number 40 represents a lot of 20-30 year olds, and a lot of 50-60 year olds, and they all came to have a good time!
A great wedding band has a wide range of hits from different eras and genres in their set list. Unfortunately, no matter how great the band may be, there is only so many songs that they will be able to play, and play well. This is no problem for a good DJ. A great wedding DJ will be able to draw on their experience and read the crowd to play the PERFECT song and at the PERFECT time! From Carolina Shag, to 70’s R&B, to 80’s & 90’s Pop, to today’s most current Hip-Hop, your DJ will have it all!
Just remember that when looking at a live band verses DJ service, make sure you communicate the mix and make up of your guests and have them prepared to play fast, slow, old, and new songs
SPACE, SET-UP, AND EQUIPMENT
An often forgotten or neglected aspect of making a decision on hiring a band or a DJ is the equipment they will use and the space they will encompass.
Even with all the new technology in audio production, a band will still have a large foot print. They will need to set up big speakers, monitors, stage, some sort of lighting, sound board, and possibly more depending on the size of the band. The other part of having to set up big speakers is having loud music. No matter how well a band may play together, there is a point at which they cannot lower the volume without affecting the quality of the sound. With a reputable DJ, space and volume is never a problem. DJ’s can operate out of a broom closet if needed, and turn the volume down to a whisper. A great DJ company will also have more options for your wedding too. The right DJ company can provide audio for the ceremony, up-lighting for the venue, a computerized light show for the dance floor, monogram lighting, video screens and projectors for slide shows, and anything else you will need.
Make sure you speak with the venue and understand how much room you will have for your entertainment. Also, make sure to speak with the band leader or DJ and discuss all the options they have available to make your wedding perfect.
Here is the biggie: What’s all of this going to cost? However, the better question to ask might be, “How much value will I get from a band or DJ?”
A wedding band will start at around $3,000 and can go up to over $10,000, depending on size and experience. It will be live music and your guest will usually experience a performance. The down side is you will only get one style of music, they will have a comparatively limited repertoire of songs, they will take up a huge amount of real estate, and there is more room for mistakes. If one member of the band is off or is not available to play, it could ruin the entire performance. And remember, this is your special day. Your guest came to see and celebrate you and bands can steal the spotlight, even if it is unintended.
A great DJ will typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000, depending upon what options they have available and you choose. An experienced DJ will also put on a show without taking the spot light off of you. They will also have all styles of music in their original recordings, a limitless collection of songs (and the ability to download on the fly), and will take up as little or as much room as you would like. The down side here is that an inexperienced, cheesy, or DJ with no personality can make the event a bummer. Be careful of the DJ’s that priced too low as they are likely to have sub-par equipment and not enough experience or expertise to create a memorable experience for your guest.
Whether you choose a live band or DJ, the best advice is to get to know the people that will be working for you. Try to go see them live, if possible. Make sure they are professional, are willing to get to know you, work with you throughout the planning process, and can provide a multitude of options to help you make this the best day ever!