Wedding music: DJ, band or both?
E qually Wed Platinum Preferred Vendor Spinners Entertainment CEO and head entertainer Jay Della Valle is sharing his knowledge on how couples can make an informed decision about whether to hire a DJ or a band for their wedding—or both! He’s also giving us the low down on what prices and packages you can expect, and what questions you need to ask to make this decision together.
Should I hire a DJ or a band or both for my wedding?
In the hours and days after your engagement, your imagination won’t be able to resist wandering into the realm of planning your celebration! The ideal day you’ve been dreaming about your entire life undoubtedly varies from couple to couple, but the expectation is always the same. You want it to be special, fun, memorable, and a true reflection of your unique love and style. There will be countless decisions to make, but don’t stress! Bite off just a little at a time, focusing on the biggest pieces of the puzzle first, such as your venue and wedding date. You will need the full capacity of your instincts and negotiating powers as you investigate venues, vendors, and all of the possibilities within your budget.
Why is my wedding entertainment so important?
Entertainment and music will dominate a significant portion of your research since it is one of the most important components of your wedding day and corresponds directly to how much fun you and your guests have. If you didn’t know how much was riding on the entertainment and music you choose, now is the time to take note. In fact, so much is riding on it that instead of looking at it as an expense; view it as an insurance policy for the success of your wedding day. Adjusting your perspective helps justify and understand the price tags of superior entertainment services and why things cost what they inevitably cost. Remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for”? Well in the realm of wedding entertainment, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. Avoid this common pitfall and don’t put yourself at risk by falling into the cheap entertainment trap.
If you’re reading this article, you either fall into the group of newly engaged couples who are deciding between a band and a DJ or you already had a preference and are reading anyway because you’re crawling with curiosity! I’m not here to convince you of anything, however, I do want you to be equipped with the right tools to help you along the way to making the best-informed decision possible.
Before opening a search tab on your browser, both you and your partner should answer the following:
- Am I more likely to see a band play (either cover band or original band) in concert or go to a club to dance to DJ music?
- When I go see a band play or a DJ perform, do I go with a group of friends?
- Are the majority of my guests younger, the same age, or older than us?
- Am I open to the possibility of incorporating live musicians with a DJ?
- Are you and your partner paying for the entertainment or is a parent or family member?
- Are you getting outside pressure from family or friends to book a particular company that they feel strongly about?
As you address the answers to each of these questions, you should start to see an image emerge of what your preferences are, if your guests are like-minded, as well as some potential issues you might run into during the course of deciding on what type of entertainment to book.
Are there hybrid companies that offer a bit of both?
A common roadblock that many couples face occurs when parents are paying a substantial amount (or the full balance) of a wedding and are dictating where the wedding will be, what type of entertainment you’ll receive, so on and so forth. While the financial gesture is gracious, it’s frustrating to the couples that have a different vision than that of their parents. Perhaps you really want a band and they prefer a DJ. While it seems that you’ve reached a stalemate, there ARE entertainment companies that can give you a Hybrid Band/DJ option that will make you and your parents happy without having to sacrifice what you want. These integrated styles of combining musicians with a DJ have become fairly standard in most markets and it’s rare now to come across an entertainment company that does not have this option available. As for friends or family that push a particular entertainment company, kindly take their info and include that company in your research. Referrals are great and often pan out in a positive way, but you need to arrive at your own decisions as well and make sure they truly are the right fit for you!
Working backward is also a tried-and-true strategy. Ask yourself what effect you want the music to have on your event and your guests. Do you want your guests to be raving about the killer band that performed at your wedding or the incredible DJ that rocked the dance floor? How much does that even matter as long as it’s great? If you’re indifferent, this is good to know on your mission to be impressed during the research phase of the process.
How do I choose which band or DJ to hire?
Now that you’ve answered some questions and have hopefully honed in on the type of entertainment you’re after, let’s dive into the research process of deciding who (which band or DJ) will get your business. The “who” makes all the difference! Whoever you choose, you should feel absolutely stoked about the Band or DJ/MC and feel confident that they will do what they do best for you on the biggest night of your life when all of the people you love are celebrating under one roof.
How might you figure out which band or DJ is right for you? Maybe you were a guest at someone else’s wedding and had the opportunity to see a band or DJ/MC perform live and in the appropriate setting! When you don’t have that opportunity, the next best thing is seeing a showcase. Bands are easier to showcase than DJs and MCs. DJs and MCs thrive in the moment and it can feel forced when their skills are showcased outside of the party atmosphere. For the bands: Always ask if there are any upcoming showcases or opportunities to see them in person. If you’ve just missed their most recent showcase and they have only private events on their calendar for the next few months, don’t worry! Just ask for some recent song set lists or a general current song list so you can determine if their style and song choice is one that gets you excited. For the DJs and MCs, ask for video, video, and more video! The more content they have that showcases their skills, captured in the moment, the better. However, don’t dismiss a DJ or MC showcase—it’s still an opportunity to meet and speak with the DJ or MC you are interested in working with.
How experienced does my band or DJ need to be?
There are so many options to choose from, how do you exclude the novices parading as professionals? You must take into account a band or DJ’s level of experience in a wedding atmosphere. Unfortunately, there are as many different experience levels as there are styles of wedding entertainment services. First, your favorite DJ from a club you frequent is rarely the sensible choice for a wedding unless he also has experience with weddings. They should easily be able to convince you of this with a proper website, videos of them in action, and more than a handful of quality online reviews. Similarly, your favorite bar band might not be the best choice for your wedding. Their experience might only extend to playing the kinds of music people want to listen and enjoy while drinking at a bar or club. Plus, when it comes to bands, you need to know they’re still going to be together and capable of honoring the contract you put in place ensuring their presence and talent on your wedding day next year. A proper wedding band or DJ service absolutely needs experience doing weddings and catering not just the music, but also the entertainment to a wide variety of age groups as well as experience controlling the flow of the evening. They need to be versatile, professional, and reliable. In most cases these days, venues will need proof of liability insurance as well, a request that frequently separates the pros from the amateurs. When you narrow your search down to a few of your favorite and most plausible options, (knowing you are choosing between reputable and professional wedding services), it’s time to get down to business and make contact!
How much should I pay for a band or DJ?
Now you’ve done oodles of research. So much research that you dream about more ways to conduct your research. You’re prepared! This due diligence will pay dividends. Having narrowed your search to the companies that interest you most, send an introduction email to each asking if they have your date available and request a price quote regarding the services you’re interested in. You’ll find out the cost of their entertainment packages and what value they assign to their talent. Here’s a tip: You never have to state your exact budget. That information is private and should stay between you and your partner. Do your best to compare packages and prices. Be open to spending a bit more if you are blown away by what you see, especially if “a bit more” is significantly less than what that company usually charges.
When it comes to pricing for bands versus. DJs, it is almost always much more expensive to have a great wedding band perform due to the larger number of talented individuals involved and the time and energy each of them puts forth in preparation. Of course, it will depend on where you live. The price of great wedding bands and DJs in the NJ/NYC area is definitely going to be higher than if you are getting married in a smaller more rural market. Whether you contract the services of an $8,000 wedding band or a $3,000 DJ, as long as they are freaking awesome, then you will arrive at the same place—you and all of your guests satisfied after an epic night of celebration!
Some companies have entertainment packages that seamlessly and effectively combine live entertainment with a DJ/MC to form a more fully immersive “Best of Both Worlds” entertainment experience. Anyone who offers this should be able to provide a high-quality video demonstrating what it is, how they achieve it, their current song list, and have the positive online reviews to back up their price. This is always a great option for clients who seek something unique and fresh—more than a DJ, not quite a band, but much more impressive when done right.
There is no right or wrong style of entertainment for a wedding—just be true to yourselves, your style and your energy—the entertainment should be a reflection of both of you!
After a bit of self-reflection and discussion between you and your partner, honing in on the type of entertainment you choose should be a much more straightforward process. Operating slightly outside the norm and combine both a band or musicians and a DJ could be the winning combination. There is no right or wrong style of entertainment for a wedding—just be true to yourselves, your style and your energy—the entertainment should be a reflection of both of you! Ask the right questions, express your enthusiasm to work with the companies you decide to reach out to, and secure the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve hired professional entertainment for your wedding day.
Jay Della Valle
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