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
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 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.
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!
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!