Band or DJ for a Wedding Reception? (How To Choose)

Is it better to have a band or DJ at a wedding?

When weighing up the pros and cons on whether to choose a live wedding band or a DJ as entertainment for a wedding day, the choice you make all depends on the requirements of the bride, groom, and guests; as well as the practicalities of the venue.

You’ll want to choose live entertainment that will prove memorable for everyone, get everyone on the dance floor, but at the same time you may be balancing the constraints of a budget, and the space, noise, and access limitations of a wedding venue.

band or dj for a wedding pros and cons

Budget for wedding bands vs DJs

How much do wedding bands & djs cost?

When considering the budget as you’re planning for the wedding reception, make sure to keep in mind that wedding DJs come at a lower average price point than wedding bands.

DJs can cost between £200-£1500, while a 4-piece pop covers band can cost between £600-£3000. 

Other types of wedding band groups, those that play more in a more specialist style or genre, like a jazz band or a string quartet, might have a slightly higher average cost.

Why are djs cheaper than a wedding band?

Ultimately, DJs are generally less expensive than any type of live wedding band.

There are a number of reasons for this: first and foremost – there’s generally only one guy or gal behind the decks.

Whereas a live band will naturally comprise multiple members, DJs usually (but not always) work alone!

DJs can provide music for the wedding reception throughout the evening, whereas a live wedding band (even though they love what they do and it means the world to them) will have to stop at some point – if only for a short break between song sets.

What is the difference between the equipment of a wedding DJ and a wedding band?

Usually, a DJ will have less bulky equipment to setup than a live wedding band and so a DJ service will potentially slightly reduce any logistical stress that could arise from the loading-in process.

On what is already an incredibly stressful day, it can be a great relief to only require one person, the DJ, to setup and then go on to provide all of the live music entertainment.

A DJ also usually won’t require as much space as a live band. 

Making sure your wedding band or DJ have easy access

Bear in mind, however, that most DJs will still require easy access to their performance area, a place which is preferably near to the dance floor and not adjacent to any dining tables.

Their DJ equipment can still be very heavy, although usually less so than the equipment of a wedding band, who will need to bring a PA system along with all of the musician’s instruments and amps.

Whether you decide to go for a DJ as music maker, or a live band for your music entertainment, you should make sure both the DJ or band have easy access to their space well in advance of the wedding reception.

Set lists and song requests for DJs vs live bands

A DJ service for your wedding also has the added advantage of being able to easily play a variety of tunes from various genres, and wedding DJ’s set lists are generally much more readily customisable and adaptable in style and variety than the average wedding band’s music.

Simply speak to the DJ in advance and they’re more than likely to fulfil your requests!

Say you would like to include one special first dance number for the newly-wed couple, or specific songs that are favourites for the bride and groom; a wedding DJ would more easily be able to accommodate these requests and add them to his/her setlist than a live band.

Can wedding bands take song requests?

Whereas a DJ merely needs to cue the song in his/her playlist, a band needs all of the musicians to rehearse the song and prep it for the big day.

Certain bands, such as The Hustle, are more than happy to learn song requests specifically for your wedding and provide an option for you to request must play tunes.

Sound limiters: a problem for live bands?

Some venues impose limitations on sound, with many a wedding venue now having installed hardware sound limiters that may cut the power to the performers if the noise goes over a certain level.

These limitations can be much more easily adhered to by DJs than by live bands: for the DJ it’s a matter of turning their volume down to keep the music underneath the fixed decibel limit.

For a live band, it can be more difficult to balance their volume as acoustic drums, wind instruments, and certain types of vocalists can’t always be quietened to the extent that they are producing sound that goes under the decibel limit.

While guitars and keyboards can generally be turned down a lot to accommodate the needs of the situation, the same cannot be said of naturally loud instruments.

Certain bands, such as The Hustle, who have experience with playing weddings with obstacles like this, have methods such as offering solo acoustic wedding singers and electric drum kit options to work alongside wedding venue sound limiters to allow your wedding to go to plan, with the only hitch being that of your couples.

As one of the leading wedding bands Cheshire has to offer, we know our stuff when it comes to sound restrictions for wedding bands!


The spectacle of a live band vs DJ

Live wedding bands are of course performing the music live. This provides more of a spectacle for the guests! When you book a band for a wedding, you want that ‘live gig’ buzz and atmosphere from seeing amazing musicians do their thing.

Most people are of the opinion that wedding music is more exciting than a DJ as there is a group of band members doing what they love and performing live music.

The musicians and the songs they play can also be a great conversation starter as the guests watch the band play and spot their favourite songs in an unfamiliar setting.

And when the guests party on down on the dance floor to the sound of the tunes, the band members of a good live act will interact with them and make each guest feel good while they listen and dance to the music. 

crowd gig music

The importance of stage presence for a wedding reception

Of course, there are some DJs who are great performers too and who will engage with guests in the same manner as a live band would, but generally, a live wedding band like The Hustle with band members who are pros will have a greater stage presence than a DJ.

Their set list of cover versions of well-known songs, including something for everyone, will bring pleasure and surprise to guests of all ages.

Final decision: Wedding Band or DJ?

Once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, and answered for yourself the question of how to balance the considerations of budget, venue restrictions, and the preferences of the couples, then it’s time to make a decision as to whether you want to go for a wedding band or a DJ for your wedding day party.

Whichever you choose, wedding band or wedding DJ, you can be sure that they will fill up the dance floor at your wedding reception.

And of course, if you simply can’t decide, then there are some bands, like The Hustle, that are happy to provide both live music and keep the wedding tunes flowing as wedding DJs and make sure everything goes smoothly at your wedding party.

If you still have questions about wedding planning and deciding whether a band or DJ is right for your party, then feel free to drop us a message.

Guide by The Hustle – Cheshire Wedding Band for Hire