Aug 16, 2021

Should you hire a live band or a DJ for your wedding day?

By Jenny Eastwood

How do you choose between a live band or a DJ for your big day? Weigh up the pros and cons and decide which is right for your wedding.

Deciding which music to play at your wedding reception is one of the most important decisions you'll make. Perhaps just as important, if not more so, than choosing a stunning venue, putting together the guest list, making the perfect choice of dress, or even who will walk down the aisle with you (although admittedly that's pretty darn important!).

You want your wedding party to be perfect. You've spent months, if not years, planning it out in your head, and now the time is coming for you to finally say "I do." The only question that remains is what type of wedding music will accompany all those special occasions? Many options are available, and choosing between hiring a live band or a professional wedding DJ can be difficult. 

There are pros and cons to both and many different factors that will influence your decision. Do you want an energetic atmosphere with people dancing and singing along with your favorite popular wedding songs performed by a live band? Or do you want to have more control over the music requests, timing, and volume so that everyone can enjoy themselves regardless of their tastes? 

We've put together a complete guide on live bands vs. DJs so you can make the best, most informed decision for your amazing event.

The Pickups Band Or DJ

Book a live band

A live band has many advantages over a DJ. Firstly, their performance style is much different from a DJ. While a DJ may mix various songs into a seamless playlist, a live band plays each song individually. This means that every moment of your reception is unique and tailored specifically to suit your guests' moods. It also gives you complete control over the atmosphere throughout your wedding party, allowing you to create a truly memorable experience.

Secondly, live musicians tend to bring something extra to the table. A good band will add personality and energy to your big day by playing upbeat numbers during cocktail hour and slow ballads later on. If you're looking for a bit of romance, then look no further than a string quartet or jazz trio. Or perhaps you'd like to keep things light-hearted and energetic all night long? Then opt for a rock 'n roll band instead. Whatever type of vibe you want to give off, a live musician can help deliver it perfectly.


There is nothing quite like a great live band to make an unforgettable night. A good song list and experience with wedding receptions will have the wedding guests dancing from the first song, making it one of their best memories ever! Any DJ can indeed fill up a dance floor by playing every style, but there is just something about having those musicians right in front of you rocking out on stage.


The average cost of a great band ranges from $1500 to $5000 and adds significant expense to the wedding. Also, they won't have a repertoire of music like DJs, who often carry an entire library on hand at all times. Plus, it may not be possible to ask them for specific requirements or want your guests to hear songs exactly as performed by their original artist. (Or will be for an additional cost).

DJ Zach Band or DJ


book a wedding DJ

A DJ is a great 'in-between' option if you want to save some money but still have the best of both worlds. They will be cheaper than hiring an entire band but more exciting than an iPod playing through speakers. The benefits are that DJs know how to mix two or three songs together, so there's no annoying silence between them. It'll be one song after another with barely enough time for people on the dance floor to get their breath back before something new starts up again. 

A great DJ will offer a good variety of music and have the ability to play any of your favorite songs and read the crowd to keep things fun for everyone.

An excellent way to ensure that you get a quality experience is by being specific about what kind of music or moods are acceptable ahead of time. This allows them to tailor their setlist specifically around your needs, so there's no risk they'll start playing something else out of nowhere!


A DJ with a charismatic stage presence and excellent emcee skills can really set the mood and keep the party going. DJs are highly adaptable. They have a wide variety of songs, they're quick on their feet, and they can play whatever music is needed at the time. They don't have to worry about playing a limited list of songs because they aren't bound by it! A DJ knows how to create an effective dance experience for everyone in attendance- not just you or me but your grandparents too. They're also more affordable than a live band, with the average cost ranging from $600 - $2000.


The atmosphere is one of the most important aspects of any event, and a live band can be crucial to getting people on the dance floor. If you're looking to have your guests dancing all night long, make sure that the DJ has an engaging personality and stage presence. It's essential to make sure they fit in with your vision and understand how to adjust their set to keep people engaged.

choosing between a band and a DJ

When planning your own wedding, there is a lot to think about. Who will be in the bridal party? What type of dress do you want to wear on your big day? Should it be live wedding music or DJ-led entertainment that sets the mood for guests at this special celebration? Choosing whether to hire a live band or a DJ for your wedding boils down to a few crucial things to factor into your decision-making process.


Obviously, there is a significant price difference between a live band and a DJ. Typically, a band will set you back anywhere from $1500-$5000 versus a DJ who'll usually come in between $600-$2000. The additional cost of a live band boils down to a few things: transportation costs for a larger group plus their equipment and instruments. (The bigger the band, the more you pay.)

This fee also covers the actual performance time, any additional equipment you request (projectors or extra lighting), and even song requests. Some bands will charge fees to learn and play new material.

Wedding DJs are usually priced by experience level. The more experience or prominence your DJ has, the higher the average cost.

Obviously, DJs are less expensive because they're typically a one-person show—and they require much less equipment. So, if you're on a tight budget, a wedding DJ may be your best bet.

So your budget alone may determine this decision for you!

Wedding Venue

You might have your heart set on an eight-piece band or 12-piece band for your wedding party, but before booking any entertainment, ask your venue manager if your venue has restrictions on the number of musicians and pieces of sound equipment you may bring in or power outlets limitations. For example, some venues have noise limitations that prohibit large speakers and drums from being used at their facilities. These questions can be vital to ask your venue manager to ensure there's no last-minute cancellation because you're not allowed to use specific instruments or amplifiers during your performance!

The size of your venue is also a significant factor in your entertainment options. Bands need more space while DJs are more flexible. You must touch base with your venue ahead of booking entertainment. Suppose there isn't enough room in the building/outdoor venue available for the required space and power requirements (like power outlets). In that case, hiring a live band could be too expensive because they have additional power requirements. You don't want to overload a fuse during your first dance!

Wedding Theme

The right music can make or break your wedding reception. What do you want to accomplish? Do you hope for a big, lively party that brings the house down? Or would an intimate dinner be more up your alley - with only close family and friends in attendance?

You want to make sure the music fits with your style or theme. You may choose a string quartet for an elegant sit-down dinner party and a more intimate gathering. A live band will get people singing their hearts out on the dance floor for something bigger and louder!

The perfect vibe will depend on whether you're looking for a traditional black-tie affair or something more modern like festival vibes with a DJ playing into the wee hours!

How closely you want your music to match your theme could help you decide between band and DJ.

(By the way, we have a mega wedding music checklist to help you choose the best songs for your wedding day!).

why not just have a Spotify playlist?

Spotify is the cheapest entertainment option and is becoming a popular choice for couples getting married to put together playlists, hire some speakers, and have their favorite music playing all day and night long throughout the wedding ceremony, reception music, special dances, and reception entertainment. While this may seem like your best bet as far as affordability goes - there are still risks involved in choosing this route: if you don't create appropriate mixes beforehand, guests might end up skipping tracks because they don't like your music choice or style of music! (Especially when drinks come into play). It's common at "Spotify weddings" to hear 20 seconds of a song before somebody presses the skip button again!

Making the right decision

Music is the one thing that can truly make a wedding party. The whole day's tone and mood depend on what you choose to play, so take your time finding something perfect for you! Along with food, drinks, flowers - all of which are important in their own way - this should be an aspect of planning not overlooked. If possible, plan ahead by visiting some bands or DJs before making any final decisions. It'll give you a feel for how they work and help narrow down those choices even more. Plus, if some particular songs or artists mean something special to both partners, then getting them involved early may just seal the deal!

If you want a special event that's lively, fun, and full of energy but also can adapt on the fly to your mood or what feels right at any given moment, consider hiring BOTH a DJ and live band through an agency that offers both if you can room in your budget for the additional cost. Both types of professional wedding musicians are a great entertainment option. They will add their own personal touch, ensuring you and your future spouse can dance the night away, make all the special requests you like, and enjoy your amazing event. 

Ready to make your choice? Check out our selection of wedding bands and wedding DJs now.

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