Band vs. DJ

Many couples debate hiring a band versus a DJ. Others decide to do both. They might hire acoustic musicians for the ceremony and / or cocktail hour, then have a DJ take over at dinner with introductions, toasts, formal dances and dancing. Or they'll get a band and hire a DJ to spin all the hot newer songs during the band's breaks and provide music and mics at the ceremony and cocktail hour. Couples who want a band but don't want to compromise can have both if the budget allows.

For those weighing the pros and cons of band vs. DJ, here are some important considerations (admittedly, we're DJs so we're somewhat biased):

1. Setup Flexibility:

Band: A band's setup is much more complex than that of a DJ. This can prevent a band from being able or willing to cover the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, all of which are usually held in separate locations.

DJ: A well-organized and properly-equipped DJ can easily address the unique needs of weddings, with separate systems, mics, etc. for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.

2. Breaks:

Band: Bands usually play about 20-30 songs, filling 1/2 to 2/3 of the time for which they are hired.  The rest of the time they take breaks, abruptly ending the momentum of the party each time... unless there's a DJ ready to immediately take over and keep the party hopping 'til the band comes back on.

DJ: DJ's keep the music seamless (and your guests dancing) all night without taking breaks.

3. Stage Presence:

Band: People go out to see a band. They go out to dance to a DJ.  Bands offer a stage presence that commands attention and works well for couples seeking to put on a "show" at their reception, rather than have non-stop dancing.

DJ: Conversely, couples looking for a less intrusive approach may prefer a professional, unobtrusive DJ... One who can maintain constant excitement on the dance floor, but keep the focus of attention on the couple and their celebration, rather than on the entertainers.

4. Volume Level:

Band: Music volume levels are a serious concern for wedding guests who want to be able to converse at the reception. Bands have limited control over their sound levels and are notorious for playing much louder than a DJ.

DJ: The higher production quality of recorded music, with every instrument and vocal carefully set by the producer in the studio, makes it sound great at any volume level. This enables a DJ to adjust volume as necessary throughout the event.

5. Music Variety:

Band: Bands are limited to what songs they know how to play well. Most play the same 20-30 songs at every reception. Very few have the ability to play the vast array of musical genre required by the mixed age groups at most weddings.

DJ: A DJ can offer nearly limitless variety and flexibility. Being able to play everything from old-school classics to the latest, hottest hits allows a DJ to create a playlist that's tailored to your needs ...and keep all your guests happy.

6. Song Familiarity:

Band: People like to dance to music they know. Bands do their best to imitate the way a song should sound, but many bands lack the instruments for all the parts (no trumpet for the trumpet solos, etc.) and few have both a male and female vocalist. Listening to a less than spectacular band attempt to cover your favorite song can be a painful experience.

DJ: A DJ can play exactly the music you have imagined for your wedding: your favorite songs by your favorite artists that sound exactly as you and your guests expect them to sound. As DJs, we love those moments when we hit the start button and immediately hear a guest say "I love this song!"

7. Reliability:

Band: Bands rely on a lot more people than a DJ. If one member of a band can't do the event, trying to find someone to play the same instruments and know the parts of the other band members can be nearly impossible, thereby forcing the band to cancel.

DJ: A reputable DJ company will (should) always have another trained DJ on stand-by to cover an event when necessary. We regularly receive last-minute calls during the wedding season from couples whose bands or single-operator DJs have cancelled.

8. Cost

Band: A great wedding band can cost ten thousand dollars and up.

DJ: A great DJ can be hired for about $2000 - $3000.

According to The Knot,
65% of couples that chose a band to entertain at their wedding said that, if they were to do it again, they would choose a DJ.

iPod vs. DJ: Is an "iPod / laptop wedding" worth the risk?

Enough people have been to disastrous "DJ It Yourself" weddings that we're now seeing a reverse of this trend. Trying to replace a prepared, professional and properly equipped DJ with a mobile device or laptop can be a monumentally difficult, if not defeating, task. Below are several good reasons why a DJ is worth the investment.

2 minute "Ipod vs. DJ" video from Bride Disrupted

  1. Coordination: An iPod / laptop can't work with your coordinator throughout the evening, anticipating the order of events and making sure everything runs smoothly.
  2. Announcements: An iPod / laptop can’t act as the Master of Ceremonies, making any required announcements in a concise, professional manner.
  3. Reading the crowd: An iPod / laptop can’t take requests, gauge audience reaction, or beat-mix considering tempo and genre to create a set of music that builds energy and excitement on the dance floor.
  4. Experience: An iPod can't help plan a memorable reception by drawing on years of experience with the flow of an event.
  5. Hassle: Couples using an iPod / laptop must rent, pick up, set up, operate, tear down and return a sound system. Most systems available for rent are not of the same quality as those used by professional DJs who use their systems every weekend and take pride in their sound.
  6. Backup Gear: Most rental systems do not come with any backup gear, as a top-notch professional DJ would. ...and who is going to diagnose a problem and get the system running again if a component or cable fails?
  7. Sound Quality: Consumer electronics are generally made to be used with headphones and don't deliver the same sound quality as professional media controllers, mixers and speakers.
  8. Empty Dance Floors: iPod / laptop weddings usually involve a few of the couple's closest friends hovering around the iPod / laptop discussing what song to play next, while the rest of the guests vacate the dance floor. What you save in entertaiment you'll spend in alcohol as they all line up at the bar, bored.
  9. Guest Reaction: The purpose of a reception is, in part, to show appreciation to your guests, many of whom have traveled, given up their time, and provided you with a wedding gift. If you use an iPod / laptop, guests who have experienced a great DJ at other weddings will be disappointed with your choice of entertainment.
  10. Reception Success: Because of the less-than-stellar way in which an unsuccessful reception reflects on their well-established business, many wedding venue owners no longer allow clients to do iPod / laptop weddings. One innkeeper told me that he enacted this rule after having three different couples try to "DJ it themselves" with a laptop. He elaborated with the following: "I had more fun at the last 3 memorial services I attended than the guests had at those weddings. At the last one, people started leaving two hours early."

At Peak Entertainment, we want your wedding to be the best it can be. Please let us know if we can answer any questions.