Getting the Best Reception: Bands Versus Deejays

Written by | Lifestyle

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Music plays a huge role at almost every reception. We’ve all been to weddings where grandma doing the “Electric Slide” with her new in-laws was a high point, but is that moment worth passing on the potential excitement of having a live band?

We took the question to Shawn Rabideau, one of the industry’s top wedding and event planners. “I always prefer a band because they offer that live interaction and tend to give a richer feel to your wedding,” says Rabideau. “However bands — and good ones at that — can be much more costly and because of that they don’t always fit in the budget.”

A representative of East Coast Band, which bills itself as New York’s “Ultimate Party Band” adds, “The wedding dress, wedding cake, and reception venue all will be meticulously planned — so why not the music? The wedding music on your wedding day will be the backbone of your event. It will be the first and the last thing your guests will notice.” Perks to having a live band include enhanced sound quality, the ability to speed up, slow down or vamp to accommodate dancers or special moments, crowd interaction with musicians, and having a bandleader to give the evening a cohesive feel.

The greatest advantage to having a deejay comes down to your wallet. Hiring one is likely going to be a couple grand, max. Hiring a band is going to increase the music budget and the number of people you’re hiring dramatically. If you really want to have great music but are looking to save money, a deejay can be a great alternative. They require minimal setup and can keep the music going without taking breaks (bands will generally need to take them regularly).

But you may still need to pay for quality. “When it comes to deejays, I caution going with one who is less expensive than others in their field. While less expensive than a band, a good deejay will cost you some change,” Rabideau adds. But he also warns against treating them like a glorified jukebox.

“A good one will listen to you and what you’re looking for, but they are not there to play your playlist for the wedding. If that’s what you want then use your iPhone playlist and leave it at that,” warns Rabideau. “A DJ is there to set the tone, read the crowd and get your guests dancing.”

However, don’t assume that deejays will serve as master of ceremonies. “That’s a completely different thing and one you should talk to your deejay about,” says Rabideau.

Compared to a band, a deejay offers more variety and greater versatility to cater to you and your crowd. If your new mother-in-law is desperate to do the “Macarena” or cousin Phil wants to show off his “Gangnam Style,” rest assured a deejay won’t deny them.

Whether you go band or deejay, be sure to have a clear contract that lays out your requirements. Read the fine print in any contracts and make sure you don’t sign anything that could potentially leave you trying to plug your phone into the sound system to fill dead air or you could end up with Pandora or Spotify commercials putting a damper on your big day.

If you’re planning an event, check out our Event Spaces/Event Planning page in our LGBT Friendly Resources section.

Last modified: September 18, 2018