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Should you choose a live band or a DJ for your wedding reception?

December 16, 2014

Weddings can be memorable for a variety of reasons – a sumptuous dress, an exquisite cake or a ravishing bouquet. Your wedding reception is the longest part of your big day, so making it equally memorable can be quite a task. The music played at the reception is an ever-present feature of the evening and can make or break the night, so getting it right is of paramount importance – but should you go for a band or DJ to keep your guests grooving?

Mix and match

Before deciding upon your musical medium, you'll need to bear in mind a few considerations. Firstly, it's likely that the age range at the reception will swing from eight months to 80 years, so a diverse range of genre will be required. It's perfectly fine to have banging beats pounding out of the speakers at some point, so long as they are accompanied by gentle guitar strums and old wedding waltzes – this will allow Auntie Nora to get down once Dr. Dre has faded out. An eclectic mix is essential, as this will ensure that different sections of your guests will burn up the dance​ floor when their favoured ditty comes on. It'll also mean that the dancing space will never be empty – a surefire way of gauging the success of the reception party.

Band aid

A live band offers a more organic, engaging and traditional musical experience than other mediums. Though a DJ can still interact with a crowd, there's nothing quite like a five-piece ensemble communicating with their audience in a display of showmanship and flair. The actual visuals of a live band, with that drum kit, bass guitar and microphone, can be enough to create an atmosphere in itself, and even some of the guests aren't so keen to dance, they can still enjoy the show.

Live music is also ripe for interpretation, meaning that bands can put their own slant on classic numbers. A good frontman will also act as your master of ceremonies, ensuring the evening is a lively affair, as no band likes to play to an empty floor. On the downside, bands are typically more expensive than DJs, can be limited in their repertoire of songs and require more space, which may mean renting a bigger venue.

'Last night a DJ saved my life…'

A DJ, on the other hand, requires a much smaller area to play in. You can also sit down with a DJ and give them a complete list of songs you'd like played – chances are, if they haven't got them, they can easily track them down. Good DJs are also tuned in to the vibe of the atmosphere, meaning that they can shift between songs effortlessly to match the mood. Additionally, the songs will sound exactly as they were initially meant, being the original recordings.

As with a charismatic bandleader, a DJ with an engaging personality and stage presence can really inject a sense of excitement into proceedings – they'll also act as an announcer to keep things ticking along. Conversely, if your DJ is something of an introvert shoegazer with little personality, it can affect the vibe of the evening, so ensure that your music man has something of the pizazz in his personality.

'Music makes the people come together…'

Try and see the DJ or band that you're after in action first before you sign them up. This way, you'll get a first-hand taste of what you can expect at your own wedding. If it's not possible to see them performing live, try and get a CD or DVD of previous performances so that you can gauge their suitability. Sit down with them for an interview, asking them about anything that concerns you. Remember, you're their customer, so they should be willing to bend to your requests. If they are professional, they'll tailor everything specifically toward you, bespoke to your needs, to ensure that you have the most exceptional wedding reception dance​ floor experience possible.