Okay, there’s no chart of graph that can give you a clear answer on this question: Is a band better than a DJ?
So here’s my list of pros and cons to each. This is based on owning a production company and booking both DJs and Bands for 5 years. Plus just being in the industry for 30 years as a performing musician. I should note that I’ve played hundreds of weddings. So I’m no newby to weddings lol 🙂
Live Band for Weddings, or DJ?
First let’s look at the considerations.
Vibe: How the music is presented is the number one determining factor of VIBE! A DJ or live band can vary greatly in their persona and performance styles. Be sure the entertainment is a good reflection of your “brand” as a bride or groom. Many of your guest may not see you again, or rarely, and so their entire opinion of your marriage and personality will be formed and substantiated by what they see and experience at your wedding. Just know that a band, being larger in numbers than a single DJ, will magnify that impression exponentially. So if you find the right band, you’ve struck vibe gold!
Variety: Up tempo, slow songs, country, rock, R&B…. be sure that whoever you hire can cover the bases of what needs to be played at your wedding, and remember that weddings are an all ages event. Tip: Hiring a bar band or a bar DJ often results in shows and song selections that are inappropriate for all ages. You might find that sexy, over the top delivery of a lyric creates awkward and unwanted memories with some of your more distinguished guest:)
Budget: DJ’s definitely cost less than an equal or better band. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And 7-10 people can electrify a room more than one person. Be sure you consider whether you are going for low-key or high energy when selecting a dj or band.
Space: Sometimes it’s a simple question of what the venue can hold. Some venues are NOT set up for bands. They don’t have the needed power, space or even proper noise ordinance clearance. Work with your planner and venue to get these details up front!
NUTSHELL DJ PROS AND CONS
- A DJ is more affordable than a band (DJ rates typically start at about $500 for five hours; bands are often a minimum of $3,000)
- He or she will play any song you want
- Can work in small spaces without a lot of equipment
- Keeps music going during the entire party with no lull
- Is trained to choreograph the reception and make announcements, which means you also get an MC to help with the reception’s flow
- A DJ with a less-than-stellar personality can be a dance-floor buzzkill
- Improvisation is tough if, say, you need to cut a song short on the fly
NUTSHELL BAND PROS AND CONS
- They make a more dramatic presentation, with musicians, vocalists, and all those instruments
- Have unique personalities
- Their infectious energy can get people on the dance floor
- Guests who don’t dance will still enjoy watching the show
- Live music is more emotional, which is what the day is all about
- 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 huge variety of music on hand and play guests’ song requests
Live Bands for Weddings: Pros and Cons
Live Bands For Weddings create energy and bring a sense of sophistication to your wedding day!
- Pros: Not only is the performance of live music more enervating, but it’s also something to behold. It’s a show! You can stare at it all night and be entertained. There’s movement and musicianship, choreography and in the case of a band like Mannequin, there’s a genuine love for playing weddings. This is contagious and your guest will be swept up into the energy!
- Cons: Good bands, especially a luxury wedding band like Mannequin, can cost a good deal more than a DJ (how does the old saying go? you get what you pay for.) And no matter how hard we try, we’ll never have the repertoire of a dj. BUT… I’ve seen many a gig fall flat because of errant request that just killed the room. So if you hire a variety band and like the bands repertoire, this is a non-issue.
DJ: Pros and Cons
The days of disco are not gone, and there’s a new spinning generation that has reignited the DJ industry and profession. A good DJ can also put on a show, and will travel with exciting lights because at the end of the day, it’s just one person and a good entertainer will want to enhance their show any way they can!
- Pros: You’ll be able to hear what ever you want to hear. It’s as simple as downloading a tune.
- Cons: DJ’s have to be amazing entertainers. If they aren’t, there’s no band to carry them or compensate for the energy. Avoid this situation and NEVER hire a DJ unless you have seen them perform.
Watch them in a Live Setting
This is simple. See them live. Be sure you love the show and style. You can’t trust online video, and though we’ve invested greatly in our own promo video I hold to the fact that video can be doctored and therefore not always trustable! Having said that, if you have a trusted referral like a friend or relative who has seen them, that will most often be something you can trust:) Catching a luxury wedding band like Mannequin the Band can be tough, but if you reach out to us we will arrange for you to have access to a private event, invite you to a rehearsal or even Skype you into a rehearsal for a live audition! Plus you can read from the almost 100 5 Star reviews we have online:)
Before You Sign
Go over any specifics about your likes and dislikes. With a DJ you can completely control the songs played, but I encourage you to resist that temptation. A good DJ knows how to read the crowd and make the party rage! And bands typically have crafted a set list that is bullet proof dance floor gold! So it’s not a good idea to try to control their set list too much. If you have a band learning all kinds of songs (more than say, 3) then you’ll have them focussed on playing a new song rather than performing. My recommendation here is to only ask them to learn special dance songs, where they’re not the center of attention anyway, then for the dance set… let them loose! Let them do their thing ~ after all, you hired them because you like them!!
HELPFUL FOLLOW UP INFO WHEN HIRING A LIVE BAND FOR WEDDINGS
I hope this article helps you hire a band as easy as possible! In the spirit of being thorough, here are some other great follow up questions that you might be interested in asking if the answers aren’t already obvious 🙂
- Do you have experience with weddings?
- Will you contract the date and guarantee not to double book or take something bigger?
- Where can we see a video of you playing?
- Can you provide references?
- Can you provide a wedding band song list?
- Are we able to request songs be learned if they aren’t on your song list?
- What is your wedding attire?
- What is your cost?
- Are there pricing options? Larger wedding band with full horn line? Smaller band?
- How long will you play?
- Are there travel expenses.
- What if we want more time, encores, etc?
- Can you play CDs on breaks?
- Do you bring lights and sound?
- Can you emcee the reception?
- What is your cancellation Policy?
I hope this helps, and of course Mannequin the Band is a Denver based wedding band and are happy to talk to you about playing your wedding or helping you in any way we can:)
All the best ~ Alan Currens