Live Musicians or DJ? How to Choose Your Wedding Music

Indoor or outdoor ceremony? Summer or fall? Family-style meal or buffet? These are the types of key decisions you make when you’re planning your wedding. When it comes to your wedding music, one of the most important choices you’ll make is whether to have live musicians or a DJ for your reception. Each come with advantages and disadvantages, and your decision depends on factors such as your venue and budget, as well as your personal taste and the preferences of your guests.

Here are several factors to consider when deciding between a live band and DJ.


In short, DJs usually cost less. Their fees depend on the equipment they bring and whether the wedding is on a weekday or weekend. The cost of a band depends on the number of musicians, the amount of time they’ll play, and the day of the week and time of year of the wedding.


Make sure you find out if your reception venue has any restrictions on music before you hire anyone. They may limit the number of musicians or pieces of equipment you bring in due to noise or electrical power restrictions.

Consider the amount of space you have, too. You don’t want your 12-piece band taking up all the space in your tent, forcing your guests to cram together on a tiny dance floor. If your venue is more important to you, decide on that first, then choose your music based on the space, any rules the venue has, and how much money is left in your budget after choosing the venue!

Personal taste

A DJ is a great choice for couples who want a personalized playlist. Make sure you have him (or her) play a variety of music to mix things up and cater to your guests’ various tastes, and confirm that he’ll take song requests. Meet them first to get an idea of their style and personality, and discuss your needs and desires. Don’t forget to talk about his wardrobe. See if you can watch him in action before you hire him.


Consider the type of vibe you’d like for your reception. A live band is traditional and dynamic, and they create a certain kind of energy that can’t be achieved with a DJ. They also set the tone for your reception, particularly if you have a theme; there are jazz bands, blues bands, and steel drum bands, as well as rock bands, Latin bands, swing bands, and more.

Make sure they can play a variety of music, too—fast and slow songs, old and new songs, and so forth. Popular bands get booked far in advance book them ASAP!

CC Image Courtesy of Valerie Hinojosa on Flickr

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