Wedding Entertainment

the big debate: live band vs dj

05th April 2017 | Julia Braime

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Earcandy (1)

It’s an age-old debate that many couples come up against when deciding on their wedding entertainment – whether to hire a live band or DJ to keep the reception dancefloor full all night long.

Here to give their expert opinion and advice on the subject today, is entertainment agency Earcandy. With some impressive record industry credits and a fabulous collection of live entertainment and bands on their books, these guys know exactly what it takes to make a wedding rock…

earcandy say: You need music at your wedding to break the ice and create an atmosphere that provides for conversation and lots of fun, but what do you choose; a band or a DJ? While the best option would be to hire both, you may not have the budget to make that happen, so if you have to decide on one or the other, here’s a few tips to help you make a solid decision that you and your guests can be happy with on the big day.

Things to take into consideration…


The genre of music that you decide on should enhance the theme of your reception. What’s your favourite? Rock/pop, classic jazz or soul music? Settling on the right genre is important, think about the guests you have invited and what they might enjoy, as well as your own preference.

A DJ can play anything you like and they have an extensive archive of any song you could want. On the other hand, a band is locked into one style and rarely crosses over to include multiple styles and sounds.

When it comes to the impact of the artists, live bands will always be the best. A band is able to engage the crowd in a way that a DJ simply can’t. Live bands provide an audio and visual experience that provides so much more than just music. A live band will have experience on stage and with handling crowds to get the best engagement from them. They are constantly watching the audience and they have their fingers on the pulse of the crowd’s reaction to their songs.


The critical factor that will determine your choice is the budget. DJ’s generally cost a lot less than a live band. Live bands have a few members and everyone needs a piece of the action, including their agent. The season also determines the pricing, summer is the most popular time for weddings, so you can expect to pay premium rates for either a band or DJ.

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If you are getting married in the summer or spring, then make sure that you enquire well in advance and secure your booking, or you may be disappointed as good live bands and DJ’s tend to get booked up six months in advance during the summer season.

The winter is a different game, you may be able to secure a better rate at this time of year. This is handy for those with a tighter budget and you may be pleased to discover that you could hire both a live band and a DJ for your reception for the same price as just one of the acts in the summer.


Your venue really will be the deciding factor of which act to hire. If you have booked a small room at your local social club or a section at a restaurant or bar, then your best bet will be a DJ as a live band will have trouble fitting their gear into the room and setting up. A DJ will leave you room for a dance floor while a live band may not leave any room, even for your guests.

If you have booked a large venue such as a hall or a country lodge, then a live band is great. You will have the room to include the band, a dance floor and seating for your guests. A DJ also works in this sort of venue but will have nowhere near the visual impact of a live band. Remember to check with the venue about their policies on noise levels. A DJ can make music sound great at any volume, but a live band, even a jazz act, needs somewhat of a loud presence to feel effective.

pros & cons

The evolution of the DJ has come a long way over the last two decades. In the past, a DJ would simply play a record one after another, today’s DJ’s have changed into performance artists that use complex equipment such as mixers and CDJ’s that allow them to blend a playlist to perfection to suit your theme and style of the venue.

They have lighting and smoke machines to add some style to their set and depending on what they bring with them, they take up minimal space at the venue. DJ’s can crossover genres with ease, moving from classic, to rock to pop and even hip-hop.

If you have a requested playlist, most DJ’s will easily accommodate your requests provided that, they are prepared ahead of the big day. DJ’s can also play multiple sets throughout the day; at the ceremony and the reception.

On the flipside, an inexperienced DJ can really mess up your reception. If they don’t know what they are doing they can play music at incorrect levels, miss mixes and have a poor choice in music, sounding absolutely terrible and ruining the day.

Wedding bands operate at another level than DJ’s, they are able to create excitement and momentum in a crowd in a way that a DJ simply can’t. A live band can even act as an emcee for the reception, announcing the food, speeches, and first dance.

The biggest plus of a live band is their interaction with the crowd, they can improvise on a dime and change it up depending on the mood and response of the crowd, making them flexible, dynamic and able to keep your guests on the dancefloor.

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ask for testimonials

The most important factor in hiring any live band is their past client testimonials and reviews. It might not be possible for you see them live on stage before your wedding day, but most bands have a selection of their live performances available for viewing on Youtube and you should be able to find client reviews there as well.

work with professionals

Trying to save a few quid by hiring the cheapest band or DJ you can find is a recipe for disaster. Good acts will charge a pretty penny but the memories they leave you with will last a lifetime. To ensure that you work with professionals, find a band or DJ that is represented by an agent.

An agent takes care of the orchestration of the day’s events. They will lock themselves into a contract with you that specifies the obligations they need to meet on the day and any penalties that may be incurred if they fail to meet their service level agreement with you. Agents make sure that the band arrives on time and has all the equipment they need, all you have to do is offer them some parking and a meal and enjoy the day!

the final word

So, what will it be for you? A live band or a DJ, or both? If you hire both then you can have the DJ play at the intervals between the band’s sets, keeping the vibe going during the downtime and keeping your guests entertained all day. However, if you can select only one, then take the hints from this article and make the decision that feels right for you.

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  • April 20, 2017 | Permalink | Reply

    Most bands on Alive Network will offer a DJ service for free if you book within 7 days of your initial enquiry!

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