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band vs dj for wedding

Band or DJ? How To Choose Between a Wedding Band or DJ

The age old question: band or DJ? Choosing entertainment for your wedding reception can be difficult. 

You already know you want your guests to have a great time at your reception and get on their feet to dance, but should you hire a wedding band or a DJ? Both a Band or DJ will be able to pump up your guests and provide lively music for everyone to enjoy, so you can’t go wrong with either option.

It comes down to personal preference and costs, so here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of a live wedding band or DJ.

Hiring a Wedding Band: Pros, Cons, and Cost

wedding bandWe’ll break down the average cost of a wedding reception band, as well as the pros and cons of hiring a band for your wedding!


Average Wedding Band Cost

Wondering what’s the average cost of a wedding band? According to Wedding Wire, live bands cost an average of $4,500. Couples who hire bands usually spend somewhere between $2,850 and $6,488. Like with all wedding vendors, prices vary based on your location and other factors, like the size of the band.

If you hope to hire a band but want to save money, look for bands in your local area. If a band needs to travel for your wedding, they may charge extra. Bands with fewer members are also more affordable, and two or three great musicians can get the crowd just as electrified on the dance floor as a big band.

Although most bands charge a flat fee for a block of time, some might charge by the hour. If your band charges by the hour, consider having them arrive after cocktail hour to cut down costs. 

To fit live music into your wedding budget, start researching bands early in the wedding planning process. Besides considering your budget, you want to book your favorite band before another couple does! Be especially mindful of this during wedding season, which starts in late spring and ends in the fall. 



There’s nothing like live music to get your wedding guests excited! Since it’s always fun to see musicians play in front of you, bands bring something extra magic to your big day. Live music is definitely a more unusual experience reserved for special occasions, so there’s no better time than your wedding day to book a band.

If you have a favorite band, what better time to hear them play than at your wedding? For those with a specific taste in music, a band may be a better alternative to a DJ.

Since bands specialize in particular genres of music, you can have your playlist filled with songs you love. For example, going for a jazzy vibe? A live jazz band will have your guests out of their seats and bopping to the music! 

Although guests expect to dance at a wedding, not everyone may be dancing away the whole night. In this case, a band will still be entertaining to watch while sitting back and taking everything else at the reception. 

Since band members each have their own personality, guests will be engaged as they play. A good band should be able to adapt to the mood and needs of guests, so the musicians can interact with the guests.



The major disadvantage of hiring a band is the cost. Bands are significantly more expensive than DJs, so when it comes down to it, many couples choose a more affordable option. Despite the price of a big band, other couples still hire one because of the many benefits.

Bands also take up more space than a DJ. When booking your venue, consider how much space the venue has if you’re leaning toward hiring a live band. Ask your venue if there’s enough space for the band to set up and perform as well as if the venue provides any sound equipment.

Although bands can bring their own equipment, it never hurts to have some extra for backup. If a band needs to travel, they may not want to transport all of their own equipment, so you may have to rent sound equipment yourself. 

Although a band’s music can tailor more to you and your partner’s specific interests, bands have less overall variety than DJs. While guests can request songs from DJs or bands, a DJ can play more songs, which may get more guests on the dance floor at your wedding reception. A band will be limited to their repertoire and what they’re comfortable playing.

Make sure that the band can play any songs that are important to you on your wedding day. Consider making a “must play” list and ensure that the band can play the songs before you book them. 


Hiring a DJ: Pros, Cons, and Cost

wedding dj

Learn the average cost of a wedding DJ, plus our thoughts on the pros and cons of choosing a DJ to keep the music playing at your wedding!


Average Wedding DJ Cost

Looking for a more affordable option for music on your wedding day? Wedding Wire says that the average price of a wedding DJ is $1,000, with the range of prices falling between $780 and $1,495.

This is less than half the price of a band, and a DJ is still a fantastic choice for your wedding. Plenty of couples hire a wedding DJ and prefer the diversity of music over a live band.



Other than the cost, the other major benefit when hiring a DJ is the variety of songs you’ll be able to play at your wedding. Whether you want to dance to pop hits or disco music, DJs have it all.

Guests can also request songs at your wedding, and the DJ will most likely be able to fulfill any request, so there’s bound to be a song or two for anyone to enjoy. Even with the wide range of music DJs have, it’s worth taking a peek at their songs to make sure your favorites are there.

While DJs have remixes and covers, a wedding DJ can also play the original song from your favorite artist. When you hire a band, they are only going to play their own music or covers, so if you have your heart set on hearing Frank Sinatra’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” for your first dance, a DJ is the best choice for you. 

Like a band, a DJ will be able to engage the crowd. A DJ will also take shorter breaks, if at all. While bands need breaks (this should be discussed in the contract), DJs can keep the party going all night long. With no awkward transitions or lulls in energy, you and your guests are free to mingle on the dance floor at any time.



You don’t want a DJ who makes you cringe! Before you book a DJ, see if you can meet them in person to see if you can get along well. Most importantly, go over a list of songs you want to hear at your wedding and the songs you would dread to hear.

Do you hate group dances? If the sound of the Cha-Cha Slide isn’t for you, then make sure it’s on your no-play list! You can also make a must play list and ask that they are able to play all of the songs before the big day. 

Unlike a band, DJs are less adaptable. If a song needs to be slowed down or sped up, they don’t have too much control over it while a band just take the tempo back. Despite this, a DJ can still be sensitive to what the crowd enjoys and play music that people respond to well.

Some DJs also have a pre-made set list and only allow a certain number of requests – even from the bride and groom themselves! Ask how many song requests you have before you book a DJ.


Can You Have Both a Wedding Band and a DJ?

dancing to band at wedding

If you love music and can’t decide between a band or DJ, it is possible to have both. However, most couples will pick either a band or a DJ because of price limitations.

While you may be able to pay a DJ or band hourly, you may still need to pay full price for both because your DJ or band won’t be able to play another wedding or venue that same night. Select companies do have band and DJ combination packages for die-hard music lovers, or you can hire your own band and DJ separately. 

When hiring both a band and a DJ, think about the mood of your wedding. A live band and DJ can shift the atmosphere drastically, so be mindful about sudden changes in wedding music and tone.

Sticking to either a band or DJ makes it easier to keep the party consistent and fun for all. However, if you do opt for both, talk to your band and DJ to make any transitions smooth.


Wedding Band vs DJ

Wedding music is essential to get guests on their feet on the dance floor, and keeps the reception moving. Like most factors that go into wedding planning, this is a personal decision.

For those with specific music tastes and want a high energy show, a live band is the way to go for your wedding reception entertainment. If you want to listen to music from all genres and all eras, go ahead and book a DJ!

Whether you hire a band of DJ, be sure to meet with them in advance before booking. Here, you can meet the lead band member or DJ to see who will be making announcements and acting as the MC at your wedding. 

Now that you’re one step closer to hiring a band or a DJ, it’s time to start thinking about your setlist! Your band or DJ will take care of most of the music, but you’re going to want to close out the night with a last dance song that’s meaningful to you and your partner!

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1 comment

  • I love that you said that there’s nothing like live music because I definitely agree with that. You made a fine point when you said a live band would add extra magic to my wedding day. My fiance suggested to me that we just hire a DJ or make a playlist for a reception. But after reading your article, I’ll definitely make sure we hire a reputable wedding band for the big day.