How to Choose Between a Wedding DJ or Live Band

live band

So you’re working your way through your wedding checklist, and have reached the point where you have to make the difficult decision between hiring a DJ or live band to get the party started at your wedding reception. 

DJ vs. Live Band

There are a few things to consider when making this important decision. We’ll go through the factors we think are most crucial to help you decide, but here’s a quick summary to get you started. 


Live Band

Usually cheapest

Tend to create the best atmosphere

Better if you want varied music

Need a larger set up area

Don’t usually require as many breaks

Need short breaks every hour or so

Some take requests to give you more control over the songs

Live bands usually create a more unique and emotional performance

DJ companies usually have a stand-in DJ in case of emergency

More can go wrong on the night as it is a live performance

You need to make sure the DJ has a lively personality so they create an atmosphere

Better if you don’t enjoy dancing as much!

Think about your Budget

You always need to keep your budget firmly in mind when planning any event, and especially one that can be as expensive as a wedding. So don’t forget to think about the cost first when deciding if you should hire a live band or DJ for your wedding reception. 

Typically, hiring a DJ is usually cheaper than a live band, so if you’re on a strict budget, it’s usually the better option to hire a DJ. 

That doesn’t mean that some DJs are expensive either though, and that some live bands might be cheaper. Of course, this will depend on the demand for your preferred choice and their availability. An amateur live band looking to get their name out there and get some experience could be capable of creating the perfect vibe for your wedding reception without breaking the bank. Equally, hiring David Guetta to play at your reception is likely to cost just a tad more than a local band. 

So make sure you consider the options in your local area to make sure you aren’t missing out on a great deal or paying over the odds for a DJ.  

Consider the Space

You’ll also need to think about the area you have available for your wedding music entertainment. 

Live bands will usually require more space than a DJ, so if you only have a small corner or your venue available, then think about going with a DJ for your wedding music. This of course will depend on the type of band you’re thinking about hiring, but usually you’ll need enough room for a full drum set, guitar player, bass player and singer. You may even need more if you’re going for a more traditional brass or classical band. 

Think about the overall size of the venue too. If you have a huge venue to fill, a DJ can actually be a better option because they’ll be hooked up to speakers around the room to make sure everyone hears the music! Live bands can fill the room too, but unless they’re connected to the sound system, the sound will most likely be concentrated to the area around them, instead of being equally distributed around the venue. 

Create the Perfect Vibe

If your choice between a DJ or a live band is not limited by your venue size or budget, then have a think about which option will create the perfect vibe. 

There’s no denying that a live band is a surefire way of creating a great atmosphere to get everyone off their feet and dancing, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate a good DJ. It’s not always as easy for a DJ to create the same buzz as a live band, and it all depends on the individual and how well they are able to engage the audience. 

Decide how Important Variety Is

You’ll also need to have a think about how varied you want the music at your wedding reception to be. If your guests are of different ages and have different music tastes, then you’re likely to want a bit more variety with your music.

A DJ will be more equipped to add some variety to your wedding music as they can choose from a range of songs. On the other hand, a band is likely to be limited to one style of music and won’t be able to play some classic rock, glitzy pop or heavy EDM music all in the same night.

If you’re already set on a specific style of music, then a band is still a great option, but if variety is essential, hiring a DJ is your best bet. 

Why you Should Hire a DJ?

Hiring a DJ could be the best option for your wedding reception if the following points are important to you. 

  • If you’re on a tight budget, a DJ is usually your best bet. 
  • DJs are great if you want a lot of variety.
  • It’s a reliable option as less can go wrong compared to live music.
  • They don’t need as many breaks as live bands so can keep the party going for longer!
But DJs aren’t always the perfect option, so here are some of the disadvantages of hiring a DJ for your wedding reception.
  • It can be harder for a DJ to create the best atmosphere compared to a live band.
  • A DJ is usually less personal and don’t give as emotive and unique performances as live bands.

Why Should you Hire a Live Band?

A live band is brilliant for creating an amazing atmosphere at your wedding reception. Here are some reasons why hiring a live band might be the best option for your wedding reception.

  • Live bands create unique and personal performances.
  • They are great at entertaining your guests and creating a great atmosphere.
  • Live bands can be good if you don’t want to dance the night away and would prefer to watch and enjoy the performance.

Live bands aren’t always the best route to go down though, so here are some disadvantages of hiring a live band at your wedding reception.

  • They need a larger area to set up than a DJ.
  • More can go wrong on the night as it is a live performance.
  • They usually play less varied music than DJs.

The Selection Process

Whether you decide to go for a DJ or live band for your wedding music, you’ll need to make sure you select the best individual(s) for your reception. 

  • First think about the style or genre of music you’re going for. This will help narrow down your choice significantly.
  • Next, have a look at some reviews or testimonials for the band or DJ options in your area.
  • Once you’ve got a shortlist, then you can start contacting prospective wedding bands and DJs to check their availability, pricing and to discuss your requirements a bit more.
  • If you’re hiring a live band, it can be a good idea to see if they have any samples or performances you can see that may have been recorded from previous weddings or events. 
  • Once you’ve made your final decision, make sure you have a full discussion to make sure you know what to expect on the night and to make sure it’s in line with your expectations. 

Thanks for reading this in-depth comparison of DJs vs. live bands for wedding receptions. We hope it’s helped you to make a decision! If you want some more help or to look at some other options, take a look at our ultimate party music guide

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