DJ vs. A Band For A Wedding – Which One Should You Choose?

Wedding DJ vs. a band. Should you choose a wedding DJ over a band? If you’re faced with this tough decision we are here to help! It might be confusing at first especially if you haven’t really thought about this matter before, and if you’re not familiar with either wedding DJs or wedding bands and how they operate. Let’s get straight into the topic.

This might be a blog geared towards DJs, but rest assured that as an author I’m not personally biased towards any side here being both a DJ and an active musician.

In this article I’ll list all the pros and cons of both solutions based on thorough research and many different opinions, real life experiences, online forum posts and most common search queries associated with the matter, all while referring to my own personal knowledge.

  1. Is a DJ or a band more expensive for a wedding?
  2. DJ vs. a band – skill evaluation
  3. Wedding DJ vs. a wedding band – song selection
  4. Pros and cons of a wedding band
  5. Pros and cons of a wedding DJ
  6. The conclusion – DJ or a band for a wedding?

Is a DJ or a band more expensive for a wedding?

Are wedding DJs less expensive than bands?
Are wedding DJs less expensive than bands? | Photo: Alexander Mils

Are bands more expensive than wedding DJs, or is it the other way around?

The straightforward answer is: generally in the context of a wedding hiring a DJ for a night will be less expensive than hiring a whole band for the same amount of time.

This usually has to do both with the amount of equipment that a band needs to provide and transport to the venue, and with the amount of people engaged in the whole process. It’s always safe to assume that a band will be much more expensive than a DJ when it comes to weddings.

Bands and DJs can be paid either by the hour, or for a whole night. Be sure that you discuss that matter with your chosen performers beforehand to avoid misunderstandings.

If a wedding takes place far away from the place your chosen performer/s live, you should also mind that some DJs and bands might charge you additionally for the transport of their gear if the distance to cover is vast.

Where money is the issue you should definitely consider hiring a DJ instead of a band.

How much does a wedding DJ or a wedding band cost? The prices can differ greatly not only between countries, regions and/or states, but also between particular bands and performers. This is the reason why we’re not giving you actual numbers or price examples here. It’s best to do a short initial price research even if you’ve pretty much set on one of the available options.

DJ vs. a band – skill evaluation

During your search you can find both wedding DJs and bands representing various skill levels.
During your search you can find both wedding DJs and bands representing various skill levels. | Photos: Jonas Jaeken, Dolo Iglesias

Generally speaking, whether you decide on a DJ or a band, in the end much will depend on the skills of the hired artist (or artists). A common thing though, is that it’s harder to find a bad wedding DJ than a mediocre wedding band, but again this really varies from performer to performer.

What we should say and suggest, is that you always check what each artist you plan to hire has to offer by evaluating their skills via referring to actual examples of their work.

If you’re considering to hire a band, check out their live performances on social media. If you’re thinking about a DJ, first listen to a few of their wedding sets before making your final decision. Of course this is not always possible.

The best way to go about this, is to either check the examples of the performances that are available online, or write directly to the artist/s to provide you with some recordings of their previous wedding performances. Almost every experienced wedding performer will have at least a few of these on hand and will be happy to share them with you.

If you want the best quality of service, you need to ensure that you know what you’re gonna get in the end by evaluating the previous performances of your chosen artist/s regardless of whether we’re talking about a band or a wedding DJ.

Both DJs and bands can represent various skill levels when it comes to their art. Be sure to assess the quality of your chosen artist’s live performances before making a final decision if only it is possible.

Wedding DJ vs. a wedding band – song selection

DJs usually are more flexible when it comes to the song selection and requests.
DJs usually are more flexible when it comes to the song selection and requests. | Photo: Mick Haupt

You have to keep in mind, that neither a DJ or a band will be able to provide you will all the songs you’ll wish for, except for when you explicitly state you want some chosen songs to be available or played live (and you do so before the actual wedding).

Although it may seem that a DJ has all the songs in the world available at the touch of a button, when it comes to wedding DJs, you should state your musical needs before the wedding, and ideally more than a few days before it to let the performer prepare the tracks you want to hear.

In terms of wedding bands the process is roughly the same, although here in many cases you should state your needs even earlier, as the band oftentimes needs much more practice before an event than a wedding DJ.

A general rule of thumb is, that on average a DJ will be able to provide you with a larger variety of tunes than your typical wedding band. If you’re picky about your songs, then most likely you’ll want a DJ on your perfect wedding!

Remember, that although a DJ is more likely to satisfy your more exotic musical needs, it’s a common courtesy to ask about the way your chosen DJ will honor track requests during the live performance. To ensure mutual understanding always talk things out first!

In some cases and to some extent wedding bands are also able to take song requests, although that’s certainly rare at least in my expertise.

Song selection, song request handling and you favorite tunes you want to hear during the wedding – these are all the things you need to discuss in detail before the ceremony, regardless of whether you’ve chosen a band or a DJ for your perfect wedding.

Now the most important part! We’ll list the actual pros and cons of both wedding DJs and wedding bands. Take notes!

Pros and cons of a wedding band:

Pros of a wedding band:

  • A great band has the potential to be more impactful and memorable than a wedding DJ.
  • Wedding bands usually give off a more “luxurious” feel than wedding DJs.
  • A good band is often able to improvise in between the individual songs introducing new quality to the performance.

Cons of a wedding band:

  • A band will essentially always be playing covers and their versions of the songs you know.
  • Potentially monotonous style of the performance (roughly the same instrumental set for every piece).
  • Usually smaller selection of available songs, often no song requests.
  • Wedding bands can get really expensive in comparison to wedding DJs.
  • Bands usually don’t play non-stop – there will be breaks involved.
  • A mediocre wedding band can leave a bad impression.

Pros and cons of a wedding DJ:

Pros of a wedding DJ:

  • Ability to play original versions of your favorite songs.
  • Most of the time a larger selection of available tracks.
  • Better chance of realizing people’s song requests.
  • In most cases way more affordable than a wedding band.
  • Can provide almost uninterrupted music playback throughout all the wedding.
  • A DJ needs less space on site and less gear overall than a full-fledged wedding band.

Cons of a wedding DJ:

  • Usually less memorable than a quality wedding band.
  • In general there are much more wedding DJs than wedding bands available, so you’ll have to be more careful when choosing your wedding DJ and evaluating his skills.

The conclusion – DJ or a band for a wedding?

| Photos: Bobby, Austin Wade

So, should you choose a live band or a DJ for your wedding? In this last segment we’ve listed all the most important pros and cons of both wedding DJs and a band. Be sure to keep all these things in mind when making your final choice.

Always remember, that good communication between you and your hired musicians is the key to a mutual understanding resulting in a successful wedding with great live music. Talk all things through with your chosen artists both during the selection process and during the final wedding preparations and you won’t be disappointed in the end. The details are important!

Article main photo parts: Bobby, Austin Wade.

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