Groom 101

Choosing a Band or DJ for the Wedding Reception

Chris Easter

Boxers or briefs? Fries or chips? Band or DJ? These are some of life’s toughest debates. For our purposes here, we’ll be discussing the question of whether to hire a band or a DJ for your reception entertainment.

The music and dance floor atmosphere can often make or break a wedding reception. Of course, the bride and groom will enjoy themselves no matter what. However, your guests may not be as easy to please. If you want to see your friends and family out on the dance floor instead of heading for the door right after dinner, you’ll want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of booking a band vs. a DJ.



  • Nothing beats live music.
  • The right band can read the feel of the room and adjust tempo to get everyone out on the dance floor.
  • Can cater to certain themes you may be trying to pull off.


  • Typically more expensive than a DJ.
  • Bands often only know a limited number of songs.
  • Certain bands only have expertise in one particular style of music.
  • When the band goes on break (usually once every two hours), the mood can suffer.
  • The possibility of your favorite song being butchered on your wedding day.
  • All of the band members will need to be served dinner (which can take a chunk out of the budget).



  • Requested songs are the real thing, not sung by an imitator.
  • Larger song selection than a band.
  • Less chance of hearing songs you don’t know.
  • A DJ with the right balance of seriousness and humor can be really entertaining. While music is playing, he can be out on the dance floor, getting everyone fired up.
  • Traditionally cheaper than a band.
  • No breaks in the music.


  • The ham-it-up factor – a non-funny, loud, and obnoxious DJ can be a turnoff to guests.
  • The chance of equipment failure.

TMR Recommendation: These tips will help make the decision making process a little less painful:

  • Go see any and all bands or DJs you’re considering perform live. This is a great way to put your fears to rest. If you can’t go see them play live, make sure to request a sample CD or DVD of them in action before committing.
  • If the band can’t play a specific song you really want, they’ll usually learn a few songs for the occasion. Sometimes, this costs extra. Otherwise, you can probably play these requested songs from a CD instead.
  • No matter which route you go, you should be given the chance to create a playlist and a “do not” playlist. If a band or DJ doesn’t offer this, don’t hire them.


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