How to Pick Between a DJ and Live Music at Your Wedding

Wedding Entertainment

Decisions, decisions. Your big day is full of them: indoor or outdoor, chicken or fish, who sits where ?  Here’s another: DJ or live music ? This question may be a no-brainer for some couples, but many find themselves stumped when it comes to hiring musical entertainment for their wedding.

If you need some guidance on what avenue to take when choosing between a DJ or a live musician, you’re in luck!  We’ve put together a few tips and factors to consider when making your decision. 

Live Music or DJ ?

One of the first things you should consider is what type of music you and your future spouse enjoy.  Once you decide what type of music you’d like to hear during your ceremony and reception, it is time to decide who will provide the music.  

DJ working at the soundboard

When to Pick a DJ

You most likely want a DJ when:

  • You want a wide variety.  Live musicians typically have a repertoire of various songs they’re skilled in performing, and while some groups are happy to learn a few new tunes to enhance your special day, they may not be willing to add an entire playlist to their repertoire.  Hiring a DJ will allow you to request songs on the spot or add new songs to the setlist to accommodate any type of scenario.  
  • Your budget is tight.  If you are still stuck between a DJ or live musician/band an easy answer may be to choose the most budget-friendly option.  DJ’s are generally less expensive because you’re only paying for one or two people. Musicians and bands require prep work and practice prior to your big day, and this will up the ante in more ways than one. 
  • Your setlist is difficult to replicate.  The classic “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers can hold its own when performed by other musicians, but not everyone can belt out Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s “Perfect Duet”.  It may be in your best interest to stick to a DJ if you don’t believe your playlist will be the same covered by another band.

When to Pick A Live Musician

  • If you enjoy live entertainment.  Live musicians provide entertainment as much as they provide music.  You may have guests who are physically incapable of busting a move or who don’t like to dance, and a band or musician will keep them entertained all night from their seats.
  • The energy shifts.  Musicians are typically able to read a room pretty well and know what to perform to set the mood.  During dinner, you may prefer calm background music that transitions into upbeat music when the dinner ends and dancing begins.  Live music is sure to bring energy to a crowd that a DJ cannot by engaging with the crowd and injecting creativity into the performance. 
  • You want something memorable.  There is just something undeniable about live music; it keeps people wanting more.  With a live band, your guests will remember how lively and engaging your wedding was.

Best Practices to Follow

Regardless of whether you decide on a DJ or live musician for your wedding entertainment, here are few best practices to use in your decision process: 

  • Interview.  Regardless of what route you choose, interview a few prospects before diving in.  Share with them the vibe you’d like to capture during each stage of the day and listen to what they are able to provide. 
  • Read reviews.  The internet is flush with reviews. If you’d like to dig deeper, ask each potential hire for a list of recommendations to contact.
  • Ask for examples.  DJs and musicians often keep their own YouTube channels to catalog their work, so ask for links so you can hear them in action. For live musicians, ask if they are performing for the public anytime soon so you can see them live before choosing them for your wedding. 

If you’re still on the fence about your music options, contact us for assistance.

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Steven Vance has provided high-quality corporate entertainment and wedding music for over 20 years and more than 10,000 special events in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, DC, Virginia, New York, and surrounding areas.

Steven Vance Entertainment
SVENTERTAINMENT LLC