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Band vs. DJ: What’s the best fit?

Music is a major part of a wedding, as it keeps the guest entertained and helps to keep the wedding on pace with its timeline. However, planning the entertainment for the big day isn’t as simple as hooking up an iPod to your favorite playlist. In many cases, a DJ or a band is the best option as it brings a unique vibe to the space, while doubling as a master of ceremonies.

The question is: Band or DJ? Here are some of the top considerations.

The couple’s music taste

This is, of course, a big part of the decision when finalizing the entertainment plan. The first thing I ask a couple is whether they are a top-40 music lover or an indie lover, or anything in between. Most couples want their musical tastes represented at the reception, but you also want to be sure the guests aren’t bored or uninterested by the music. While a couple may love death metal, a wedding reception is supposed to be fun and filled with dancing for all guests to enjoy. If that’s the case, I would lean toward a DJ to ensure they play all of the requested hits. If the couple wants original music at their wedding, a band is definitely the way to go.

At an M Culinary on-site party for Leading Caterers of America, a DJ was chosen to keep the music going. Photo courtesy M Culinary 

The couple’s budget

The budget is a major factor when narrowing down entertainment choices. A band can easily start at $4,000 for a wedding celebration, whereas a DJ can start under $1,000. In addition, a DJ has much less equipment than a full band, so keep in mind that a band may come with other expenses, such as a larger stage or additional sound equipment. For couples that aren’t music aficionados, a DJ tends to be the general choice. For others, the investment for live music is entirely worth it.

The venue setup

Space is always something to think about. If a couple is having a small, intimate wedding, there may not have room for a band or it may overwhelm a small space. In that case, a DJ that fits their style is just the solution. Be sure to let the DJ know about the space so they can prepare their equipment accordingly.

The little things

While both options can usually double as MC for the night, there are other small considerations to keep in mind. For example, all vendors need to take breaks at some point throughout the night. Typically, a DJ can simply hit a button and keep the music going, whereas having a band would mean considering having an iPod or other music option to fill in their breaks. From a planner’s perspective, we also consider vendor meals. For a DJ, you may just need to plan a small break for one meal, but a band may need to have multiple breaks for more meals.

Both options have their pros and cons, so weigh them carefully as you consider what is best for your couple and their wedding. When it comes down to it, you really want the entertainment choice to reflect the couple’s personalities and the atmosphere that they want for their big day.

Come to Catersource in New Orleans, my home city, March 12-15 to see a variety of music options throughout the four day event!

Kim Sayatovic is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans, Louisiana.


Kim Sayatovic

Kim Sayatovic is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full-service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans, Louisiana.