Brides Want to Know: Wedding Band or DJ?

Dear Here Comes The Guide,

My fiancé and I have most of our wedding plans set, except the music for our reception. We can’t decide between live entertainment and a disc jockey. The reception will be indoors with about 150 guests. We have to keep an eye on cost, too. Are bands always more expensive? What do you recommend?

—Maria M., Fallbrook, CA

Still Music Photography

Well, Maria, to help shed some light on the burning DJ vs. band controversy, we’ve asked a few of our trusted experts to weigh in:

“Live entertainment is always a classy component of a reception,” offers David Burrows, whose company David Burrows Entertainment provides both disc jockeys and performers for weddings. “Maria, you can’t miss with a terrific band—they can deliver just the right dynamics to keep your guests raving about your wedding for years.” Soundsation’s Megan and John Woods, who also supply both types of musical diversion as well as specialty lighting, concur: “Bands definitely have more of a presence.” Even DJ Dave Cloutier of Feet First Eventertainment® concedes: “If you’ve always fantasized about having a live band at your wedding, then you shouldn’t let a few hundred dollars keep you from getting your wish.”

Ah, the dollar dilemma. Maria, costs are on the mind of many brides (and their parents) throughout the planning process. Normally disc jockeys are less expensive, but Soundsation points out that “the price tag for a quality live band varies considerably, and can be as low as $1,000 or as high as $10,000.”

Dave Cloutier’s partner, his brother Kevin Cloutier, has something else for you to think about. “There’s virtually no limit to the type of music a disc jockey can play. They take requests and do whatever is needed to get your reception going.” Soundsation agrees, noting that, “DJs can easily play period, ethnic or themed selections.”

David Burrows counters with: “The most popularly requested bands are able to play a variety of styles to satisfy a wide age range. And bands are often willing to learn a special song for important moments, like you and your Dad’s first dance.”

Since your reception is indoors, you probably won’t have volume restrictions, but Kevin acknowledges, “Many brides complain that the music at weddings is often too loud.” Regulating the volume first requires that musicians and DJs be aware of the sound level (lots of them aren’t). But according to Soundsation, adjusting the volume may also be a technical issue: “It’s simply much easier for a DJ to tone it down.”

After listening to the industry pros, it’s clear that making the DJ-or-band decision is a very personal one. David Burrows suggests that you ask yourself this question: “What would you rather see at your wedding—your favorite songs performed by a variety of talented musicians, or one dynamic personality who emcees your event while playing the songs on CD?” If you really can’t decide, follow the recommendation of Soundsation and Burrows and go for the ultimate in entertainment—hire a DJ to handle the emcee duties and play the tunes while your band takes their break. That way you can have the best of both worlds!

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