Dancin’ Away with My Heart

Even though we have struggled with some of the big wedding decisions we’ve made thus far, Moo and I have always known that we want the reception to be a party! For us, creating a party atmosphere comes down to two main things: an open bar and some great music.

The goal is to have a dance floor that looks like this all night! Photo from Leforce Entertainment.

The goal is to have a dance floor that looks like this all night! / Photo from Leforce Entertainment

Hearing a certain song on the radio can bring me right back to a moment at a wedding, whether it is the bridal-party entrance to “Party Rock Anthem,” making friends with strangers as we sing along to “Call Me Maybe,” or watching my parents dance around the room to “At Last.” Really, my best memories from the weddings I’ve been to involve the music, so I’m placing a lot of importance on this factor.

In my mind, there are three main options for music: DJ, band, or DIY. Moo and I both enjoy good music, but don’t have great music collections (mine is from high school and earlier, so there is a lot of Disney and Spice Girls happening), and we rely on apps like Pandora to set the right mood when we have people over. So we definitely don’t want the responsibility of coming up with a new playlist and managing it for the wedding! This means DIY is not really an option for us, leaving us with the choice of a band or a DJ. We ended up going with a DJ—here’s why…

Space: A band takes up considerably more space than a DJ, although this varies based on band size and DJ equipment. We already had to rule out some locations because they couldn’t fit our guest list; I wasn’t ready to give up even more space! Plus, the way we want our specific venue set up (with the dance floor in the middle of the room) doesn’t really leave room for much more than the DJ equipment because of how the room is designed.

This band is taking up a lot of space, but the guests are having a great time! Photo from The Attitude Band.

This band is taking up more space than I would like. / Photo from The Attitude Band

Price: You may be able to find a local band or college band that will play for a few hundred dollars, but professional bands can cost upwards of $5,000. One band that I had looked at in the past had five people and would cost us $7,000 for four hours. Our DJ, on the other hand, is $700-900 for four to five hours of music. A DJ tends to be a more budget-friendly option, although some DJs will cost much more than what we’re paying. And when you’re looking at pricing, don’t forget to think about tips and meals for your vendors—those add up when you have multiple people.

Flexibility: From what I’ve seen and heard, bands tend to stick to one or two genres of music—you probably won’t find a group that covers rap, country, and pop. DJs, on the other hand, can play pretty much any song you want (and any version of that song!). Bands do offer DJ breaks where they can incorporate songs you want that they might not perform, but Moo and I were looking for a variety of music all night and the ability to hear very specific songs. For us, the flexibility of a DJ was key.

Something unique like a mariachi band would be an awesome experience for guests! Photo from La Vita Bella Events.

A mariachi band would be so fun, but probably wouldn’t give you music flexibility. / Photo from La Vita Bella Events

Engagement: This one was tough! A good DJ and a good band can both get your guests up, engaged, and dancing. A bad DJ and a bad band can both ruin the night. I think a band adds an amazing element to the wedding—live music is fun and a little unexpected. I honestly think we would have been happy with either a band or DJ for this aspect as long as we read reviews, talked to prior clients, and took some time to see the band or DJ play so we could see what they were like.

The DJ won in almost all of these categories, but there was one more thing that sealed our decision—Mom Milk Cow’s request. My sister got married in 2012, and her DJ was awesome at keeping everyone dancing and having a good time all night. Apparently, family and friends were still talking about how great he was months later. So when Moo and I got engaged, one of the very first requests (seriously, two days post-proposal) from my mom was for us to use the DJ that my sister used. After our great experience and memories with him, we had absolutely no problem with this. I’m crossing my fingers for a reception that is just as fun for all of our guests as hers was!

This picture is from the end of sister's reception, after we had danced for hours! Photo is personal.

Exhausted after several hours of straight dancing at my sister’s wedding—hopefully our guests will have the same experience!

Music-wise, did you go with a DJ, band, or DIY? I’ve only been to receptions with a DJ—I’m so curious about being a guest at DIY and band receptions!


Mrs. Milk Cow

August 10
Columbia, MD
Wedding Date:
July 2014
Big White Dress Inspiration
That's Amore: Oh Boy, Here Come the Tears
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  1. rucksack Member
    rucksack 518 posts, Busy bee @ 10:17 am

    We adored our DJ and I would definitely hire him again in a heartbeat. Because we like to dance to so much pop and 90s hip-hop, there was no doubt that a DJ would work better for us. That said, I’ve been to a couple of weddings with bands and they were fantastic!

  2. Member
    Lone Star 146 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:53 am

    I’d also vote for a DJ– we had a great one who really kept it all moving. Also, every single time I’ve been to a wedding with a band, the band was SO LOUD that normal conversation was really difficult.

  3. parisian Member
    Miss Parisian 588 posts, Busy bee @ 11:17 am

    We thought about using a family member’s band for fun during the reception, but ultimately decided we’d rather just have everyone relaxing and dancing! I’m sure everyone will have as much fun dancing at your wedding as they did at your sister’s. That’s really cool that you get to use the same DJ so you know what to expect as well!

  4. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 11:30 am

    We went with a dj and he was amazing. We picked genres of music, a do not play list, specific songs and he did it all. He played music pre-ceremony, ceremony, cocktail hour and the entire reception. He had lights, microphones, and he mc’d the entire thing. He was so amazing and I would recommend a dj.

  5. jetsetter Member
    jetsetter 535 posts, Busy bee @ 11:34 am

    We went with a DJ for cost/space purposes – like you mentioned. He was AMAZING, the floor was packed all night. The right DJ makes a huge difference, for sure.

    I think a band is great, for sure, but can limit you playlist-wise!

  6. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:45 am

    That’s great to know that you’ve got a DJ you like who is experienced! I love the variety of music that a DJ offers!

  7. milkcow Member
    Mrs. Milk Cow 215 posts, Helper bee @ 12:03 pm

    @Mrs. Rucksack: Mr. Milk Cow is a big 90s music fan too :) Since we’re not having a band, I’m realllly hoping one of my friends goes with a band so I can experience it myself!

    @Lone Star: I’m glad you found a good DJ! I didn’t even think about the noise level from a band, so I’m glad we didn’t go in that direction now that you bring it up. It would have been overpowering in our reception room for sure.

    @daniellekira: Ours offers lights and microphones, too! Little details I didn’t even think of before – makes life so much easier for me.

    @Mrs. Jet Setter: Finding the right DJ is definitely the key!

    @Miss Pyramid: Thanks!

  8. Member
    luluvohn 1194 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:10 pm

    We definitely wanted a DJ. While FI and I have a lot of similar tastes in music, we also have some very different tastes too. We wanted to be able to showcase his love of 80s hairbands with my all things pop (yes, we’re playing One Direction at the wedding) and our shared love of Country. No band would’ve been able to give us that.

  9. mspalmtree Member
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:10 pm

    Our DJ was amazing. I had nightmares of the dance floor being empty for our reception (seriously) and he made sure that did not become a reality. I don’t think you’ll regret your choice!

  10. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 3:15 pm

    So … you will have Spice Girls on your wedding playlist, right?

  11. bighornsheep Member
    bighornsheep 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 5:14 pm

    We did all three: band, DJ, and DIY. We DIY’d our music, threw the music over to our DJ and friend (who mixed it up), and then had a band (Mr Big’s brother’s band) at both the beginning and end of the night.

    But to be completely honest with you, I don’t even remember if the dance floor was empty or full! I didn’t get a chance to dance up until the very last song when Mr Big and I hammed it up like ‘tards. LOL

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Michelle, Guest @ 5:22 pm

    @Mrs. Bighorn Sheep:

    Please watch your language. Mocking the mentally retarded is not okay.

  13. milkcow Member
    Mrs. Milk Cow 215 posts, Helper bee @ 5:48 pm

    @Miss Parisian: Relaxation and fun is our ultimate goal, too!

    @luluvohn: Our music taste is all over the place too – I like pop, he likes some rap, and we both like country. I don’t think a band exists to cover all of that! Also… Story of my Life is a good song!

    @Mrs. Palm Tree: I’m worried about the same thing (like constantly) so I’m hoping that him doing a good job at my sister’s wedding is a good sign for us.

    @Miss Filly: Alcohol + my best friends from my all girls’ high school? Spice Girls will definitely happen.

    @Mrs. Bighorn Sheep: I like how you had everything! I hope we get to dance before the last song – it’s all I want.

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