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Wedding Music: DJ or Live Band?

August 10, 2021

Wedding Music: DJ or Live Band?

When it comes to entertainment for your reception, you’ve got two options: a wedding DJ or a live band. Each has its pros and cons, and there’s a winning option for every budget. 

But which is the right choice for you? It will depend on everything from your favorite style of music to your venue’s space restrictions.

This article has put together the pros and cons of wedding bands and DJs to help you make your decision a bit easier. 

Things You Need to Consider


The type of wedding music you pick can set the tone of your wedding, and it’s the thing people most often remember. Think about what musical genre best reflects your personality and inspires the ambiance you want to create.

Your Wedding Style

Your reception music will set the tone for the night—make sure it fits with your wedding style or theme. 

Are you hosting an intimate dinner party or hoping for a big, lively reception that brings the house down? Naturally, you want music to enhance your situation.

A string quartet may be the perfect choice for an elegant sit-down or more intimate dinner party set-up. 

A cover band is a better option if you want your wedding guests to get up and sing along while they dance. 

You may go for a full jazz band if you and your partner frequent jazz music clubs for date nights. Live music can really drive your theme or style home.

Wedding DJs are a better option if you consider the variety of the spice of reception life. 

They can simply provide a much wider breadth of music genre options and essentially play any song you request.

Bands typically come prepared with a previously agreed upon set list—requests aren’t always on the table.

Ahead of your wedding, you and your partner will work with the DJ to develop a list of must-play songs and, alternatively, a list of absolutely do-not-play songs. 

Some wedding DJs welcome requests from wedding guests. Others don’t.

Be sure to ask any wedding DJs their preferences in this regard ahead of booking.

One last thing on this: While a wedding DJ will play pre-recorded songs (it’s great—your guests will know them, and the party won’t stop until the music does), live wedding bands can improvise a bit. 

A band can work in standout instrument solos, change lyrics, and add any fun twists they see fit, which can be fun for you and your guests, too.


Generally, a live band will cost more. However, there are always exceptions – well-known DJs can be just as expensive as live bands. 

Remember that band prices vary by the number of wedding musicians, the amount of time you want them to play for, the day of the week, and what time of year it is.


You need to check whether the reception venue has any restrictions on the number of musicians and pieces of equipment you may bring in and whether there are any electrical power supply or noise limitations. 

For example, a registered landmark may not allow you to use large speakers. 

Your Guests

While your wedding day is a celebration of you as a couple, remember that you’re also essentially hosting an event for others. 

Consider your guest list before choosing your entertainment. Think about the age range of your guests and the general preferences of the group.

A wedding DJ will create a setlist that includes a variety of hits from all genres and for all generations. 

You can cover Top 40 hits, too. 

Live music is generally just entertaining to watch and provides a focal point—great for those guests who prefer not to dance. 

Younger guests may not vibe with a band’s take on songs, and, as we said, the song choices may be limited regardless.

Having known what to look out for when choosing between a wedding DJ and live band, let’s now look at the Pros and Cons of each wedding music. 

The Pros and Cons Of a Wedding DJ

Today’s DJs are artists in their own right, offering balanced and eclectic mixes of musical styles for all ages.


● They will play any song you want and be able to take requests

● A DJ with a charismatic stage presence and excellent emcee skills can really set the mood and keep the party going

● The songs played will sound exactly as you want them to, encouraging sing-alongs

● They can work in small spaces without a lot of equipment

● The music will continue during the entire party with no lull

● DJs are significantly more affordable than a live band


● A DJ with a cheesy or less-than-stellar personality can kill the mood. Thoroughly vet your DJ to make sure you love their personality, and they know exactly what you want to hear.

● Improvising song selections to liven up an unenthused crowd is harder for DJs because tempo changes are less natural, and it’s hard to end a song early without awkwardness.

● A DJ can be boring for guests who don’t want to dance or don’t enjoy their song selection, whereas non-dancers would still probably enjoy the performance of a live band.

The Pros and Cons of a Live Band


● A live wedding band can create an electric atmosphere and get the crowd excited and up on their feet.

● Live musicians can quickly gauge when a crowd needs a tempo change and can accommodate it subtly and effectively

● A band member can also act as the master of ceremonies for the event

● They make a more dramatic presentation, with musicians, vocalists, and instruments

● Their energy can get people on the dance floor, even people who usually wouldn’t dance

● Wedding guests who don’t dance will still enjoy watching the show

● With a live band, you can almost guarantee that your reception music will be one of a kind


● Live bands generally cost more than DJs, and the higher rates might be prohibitive for some couples

● No matter how great the band, they can’t have the repertoire of a DJ, who can keep a wide variety of music on hand and play guests’ song requests

● Bands usually play about 20-30 songs, filling 1/2 to 2/3 of the time they are hired. The rest of the time, they take breaks, which may disrupt the momentum of the party.

Ask Your Venue For Suggestions

Like we mentioned earlier, your wedding reception venue may offer added help in the DJ vs. band decision.  

Be sure to check with your venue first to determine if they have any restrictions on the number of musicians or pieces of equipment you can bring in.  

Also, ask about noise limitations and electrical power supply sources, which may help narrow down your choices.


Choosing to have a live wedding band or a wedding DJ is truly a matter of personal preference.  

One thing is certain though: you do want your guests to have a great evening, so booking an entertaining act is necessary.  

No matter what, be the life of your own party. If you are having a good time, your guests will undoubtedly follow suit. 

Thank you for reading “Wedding Music: DJ or Live Band?

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