Planning a wedding can be a huge and stressful undertaking, with so many things to consider. One of the most important elements to get right for your wedding day is the music – this is one of the key ingredients for making sure you and your guests have a great time. When choosing music for your big day, the most common question is: Should you hire a DJ or a band? I have played in wedding bands for over 20 years and have also DJ’d at a few over the years. Read on for my guide on Wedding Bands Vs Wedding DJs.
Variety of music
In this category the Djs have the edge. Theoretically your wedding DJs they will have access to every song ever recorded! They just need to download it. Whereas a band actually has to learn and rehearse their repertoire.However, most good wedding bands will have an extraordinary range of music. In my band we play everything from Gypsy Jazz instrumentals over canapes to thumping Top 40 and dance floor classics at the end of the night.
All good wedding bands and DJs should have stage and dance floor lighting (it’s an essential part of getting the party going). However, despite having a good light show a DJ can be slightly on the boring side to watch – it’s not their fault – but they don’t have that much to do during songs. They don’t need to “perform” as such, they just need to choose the next song. A band is much more visually interesting, you get to see the members playing their instruments and singing their hearts out. There really is nothing like seeing a great band perform live, and it really adds to the sense of occasion. Over the years I have found that kids in particular LOVE watching bands, they are mesmerised by the spectacle. Also if you have older guests who maybe aren’t up to dancing a band will be much for engaging for them.
DJs have total control over their volume, they can turn their system up or down just like a stereo. A band on the other hand will likely have some instruments which cannot be turned down, a drum kit for example. For inner city venues this can be a problem as there can be noise restrictions. Some wedding bands (like mine) get around this problem by having a backing track option (the drums and bass are pre-recorded) – this way you get the best of both worlds, a live band with total control of their volume. We are able to play at venues in Melbourne with a “no bands” policy by using this system.
Winner: DJ, or band with backing tracks.
If you hire a band for your wedding there is always a small chance that one of the performers will be unwell on the day. Wedding singers can get the flu! And if they do then their performance will be compromised. With a DJ it really doesn’t matter that much if they are a little bit under the weather, you and your guests probably wouldn’t even notice 🙂 On a personal note, I am happy to say that in over 20 years of playing at weddings I have never missed a gig or been too sick to perform at my best. But taking everything into consideration it is slightly more risky to hire a band than a DJ.
Winner: DJ (just)
A good wedding band will not just go through the motions and play songs in a robotic way – they will interact with your guests and make sure your guest are as entertained as possible. A DJ is a little bit more limited in this regard as they can’t talk over the music, and they are stuck behind the DJ booth. In my band we will make jokes during songs, change the lyrics, and react to what is happening on the dance floor. If the bride and groom ask nicely we will even let them or one of their guests come up and sing a song with us 🙂
The last category isn’t as practical as the previous ones. It’s more about the “vibe” you want to create at your wedding. If you have read this far you already know that I am in a wedding band, and I admit I am slightly biased. However, I know when I walk into an event as a guest and I see a live band set up, I feel a tingle of excitement which I don’t quite get from seeing a DJ. Don’t get me wrong, I have been to plenty of weddings with DJs and they were great! But, there is something magical about seeing a band perform live. When the band is rocking, and the dance floor is pumping, there is an energy and an exchange between the crowd and performer which cannot be replicated by a DJ.
I hope you have found this article useful in choosing music for your wedding! Just make sure you meet your band or DJ in person before you book them and that you share a vision for your big day. As I mentioned earlier in this article, I am biased, but I think if you can find the right band then a wedding band is a (slightly) better option for a wedding. A band gives the event a sense of occasion and provides a spectacle which a DJ can’t quite offer.
Mick Carney started his music career playing with his cousins in a cover band in rural NSW. He moved to Melbourne in 2003 and started Brightside Duo in 2009 with long time collaborator Dan Pennington. Brightside Duo feature on many preferred supplier lists and have become one of Melbourne’s most in demand and respected wedding bands, having played at hundreds of weddings of all shapes and sizes over the years.