Should you pick a live wedding band or wedding DJ for your special day? How do you even decide?
If you want a club or festival DJ atmosphere at your wedding or have a limited budget you should pick a DJ. If you have a healthy budget, love live music and want premium wedding entertainment you should hire a live wedding band. If you can afford it, booking both is the best option as wedding DJ’s and live bands can perform together perfectly at weddings.
Wedding DJ’s and live wedding bands both have their pros and cons and you can find yourself in the nice situation of not knowing which one to pick. If you are still struggling to decide then this is a must-read for you. With our 15 year’s of experience performing and organising wedding entertainment, we have come up with the definitive and final word on how and why to pick either a DJ or live wedding band.
Does it really matter which I pick?
No matter the type of wedding you plan to have, wedding DJ’s and wedding bands have their place and can turn an average wedding into a stunning one. They can also be totally inappropriate for some weddings, so it really does matter which one you pick. Let’s go through the pros and cons of each to set you on the path to wedding entertainment enlightenment.
Wedding DJ vs. live wedding band infographics!
At the bottom of this guide, you will find all our wedding DJ and live wedding band pros and cons in some nice handy infographics. Click here to skip straight to them and simply contact us if you’d like downloadable versions of them.
The pros of picking a wedding DJ
Let’s kick this post off with the pros of wedding DJ’s.
- DJ’s are generally more affordable than live bands
- DJ’s can usually play any music (including recent hits), any time
- DJ’s can perform in pretty much any type of wedding venue
- DJ’s can perform within even the strictest of sound limitations
- DJ’s can create that authentic Ibiza or garage club vibe
- DJ’s generally have quick, simple and easy to set up and pack down times
- DJ’s can always play any type of first dance
- DJ’s can usually accommodate requests and playlists from you and your guests
- DJ’s usually interact with you and your guests creating a non-stop music experience
- DJ’s can be visually impressive if they have an extensive light show
- You can potentially use their PA system for speeches etc
The cons of picking a wedding DJ
Are there any cons to a wedding DJ? Well yup, there can be.
- Some DJ’s have a habit of running only their own playlists and not taking requests
- You can’t usually decide how they perform or interact with guests meaning they may not fit the theme of your wedding
- With a DJ, you are essentially listening to pre-recorded music and not “live” music
- A DJ’s stage presence and visual entertainment can be limited
- DJ’s can’t replicate live wedding bands audio and visual display
- Some DJ’s can be expensive insisting you hire lighting and sound personal as part of their package
- Some DJ’s come as part of a wedding venues booking package and may not be your preferred choice
- Some DJ’s use below par lighting and equipment which can kill any party vibes
- Your guests could request loads of awful songs which the DJ then plays!
Wedding DJ’s summary
As you can see, there are plenty of pros and cons to wedding DJ’s but in summary, we would say the pros to wedding DJ’s are their affordability, musical flexibility and suitability for most wedding venues. Cons you can experience with a wedding DJ are that they have an audio and visual show that can’t compete with a live band and that you don’t always know if a DJ can or wants to complement your wedding theme. There’s the risk of awful songs being requested by your guests too!
The pros of picking a live wedding band
There are plenty of pros to live wedding bands. Here they are.
- The unbeatable visual and audio experience of musicians performing live
- Live wedding bands can cover very specific musical themes or cover a wide range of music to suit everyone
- Live bands usually excel at crowd interaction and keeping dancefloors full
- A live wedding band brings a touch of exclusivity and uniqueness to any wedding
- First dances performed by a live band can sound amazing and highly personal
- Wedding bands can tailor setlists including first dances just for you
- Live wedding bands will sometimes let you or your friends perform with them
- Live wedding bands can fit into most wedding venues
- Wedding bands can add or remove musicians to adapt exactly to the theme of your wedding
- Some live wedding bands can offer DJ services
- Live wedding bands are made up of professional musicians meaning you can leave them to sort the entertainment side of your wedding
- They can perform throughout your wedding day and evening, inside and outside
- You can potentially use their PA system for speeches etc
The cons of picking a live wedding band
There can be some cons to wedding bands of course.
- Live wedding bands can be expensive
- Live wedding bands sometimes have more complex logistical requirements
- Live wedding bands can’t usually replicate the DJ club experience
- Some wedding bands can be too large and loud for venues with extensive sound restrictions
- Not all wedding bands provide background music meaning you may need to hire a DJ or sort your own playlists
- Some wedding bands are genre-specific and can’t cater to multiple musical tastes
Live wedding band summary
So what would we take from all of that? Well, the main pros are fairly obvious. The unbeatable audio and visual show and crowd interaction a live wedding band provides at any wedding creates a unique feel which is just, well, unbeatable! However, wedding bands can be expensive and do need the proper space and setup area to perform properly which not all venues can offer.
A few wedding thought provokers
We hope our pros and cons brought you a few steps closer to deciding what entertainment you want but there are a few extra topics we knew we’d have to cover to help you decide for sure. Let’s start with wedding themes…
Real-world wedding DJ and live band costs
A big consideration when picking a DJ or live wedding band is cost, right? Wedding bands usually cost more but how much more? Are wedding DJ’s really that affordable? Well, we’ve done some extensive pricing of wedding bands in this guide here and in the future we’ll be doing the same for wedding DJ’s.
However, to help you right now, we worked out the average price for all types of wedding DJ in London, West Sussex and Merseyside. West Sussex is one of the most expensive areas to book wedding entertainment, Merseyside one of the cheapest areas to book wedding entertainment and London one of the most popular areas to book so you get a good cross-section. We’ve then compared those prices with the average cost of a 4 piece wedding band in the same areas. 4 piece wedding bands are the most common and popular wedding band sizing out there. We hope the below helps you!
The average wedding DJ cost in London £690
The average wedding DJ cost in West Sussex £573
The average wedding DJ cost in Merseyside £503
4 piece wedding band cost in London £1449
4 piece wedding band cost in West Sussex £2035
4 piece wedding band cost in Merseyside £1352
So, its obvious from the results that DJ’s are cheaper but considering all that you get with a 4 piece wedding band, we wouldn’t say DJ’s are that much more affordable or that much of a bargain anymore. West Sussex’s prices aside, you don’t have to pay an awful lot more to book 4 pro musicians lighting up your wedding with their fantastic live music when compared to DJ prices.
However, if you want to stick to a smaller or stricter wedding entertainment budget, DJ’s can’t be beaten. They are still one of the most affordable wedding entertainment options out there.
Your wedding theme
Wedding bands can generally be more expensive (see our post on wedding band prices for 2020 here) but if you are looking for authentic musical entertainment they can’t be beaten. If for example, if your wedding theme was based on the stylish 1920s, a wedding band like Southside Sparkle below has to be considered.
A DJ just can’t enhance the look, sound and feel of that kind of wedding as well, if at all. Our guide to live wedding bands is a useful tool to help you figure out what type of band could suit your wedding theme.
Mad for it club rave, dance, trance, glowsticks scene
On the other hand, if you and your guests want those club and garage hits pumped out late into the night, a DJ is your best option. Think about the kind of ambience you want to create at your wedding so you can focus in on what entertainment you need. You should also consider a DJ when you’re planning to party late into the night. Venue sound restrictions and late-night fees with live wedding bands can become steep so a DJ can really help you out there and keep those Spice Girls or Ibiza hits blasting all night. Have a chat with people like us and your wedding venue to see what options you have.
A little wedding tip
I think in an ideal world we would all have a DJ and wedding band yes? Why not?! The thing is, if your other wedding expenses have eaten up most of your budget how can you afford both a DJ and live band? Well, sometimes there is a solution…
Some live wedding bands offer a full, professional DJ service in between their sets and late into the night to save you money and keep the party going. All our wedding bands offer DJ services (which can include making announcements, taking song requests on the spot or designing playlists with you) and many of them will offer it for free if you book them within 7 days so talk to us to find out if you can make use of that amazing deal.
Spotify and Itunes to the rescue
If you are really needing to keep the old budget down, you can provide your own playlists via Itunes or Spotify. All our wedding bands are happy to play couples playlists and you may save yourself some money as you forgo any DJ fees that some bands charge.
Even though our acts are already happy to create playlists for you, we are finding that playlists created by couples themselves are becoming very popular. With wedding costs doubling since 1990, savvy couples are finding all sorts of ways to save money. Speaking of which, our guide on booking a wedding band on a budget in 2020 may interest you…
I still can’t decide, lets book both a DJ and wedding band
Yes! Booking both a wedding band and DJ if its an option is highly recommended. It’s the best of both worlds. We find that a top DJ can complement a live wedding band perfectly and when done right, it can add real quality, big party atmosphere and musical consistency to your wedding. We firmly believe in both mediums and being a wedding musician in The League of Gentlemen (above), I really enjoy weddings where we work alongside DJ’s. We always work together well and create the best of party atmospheres.
The future of wedding DJ’s
You are probably wondering why you can now see a video to our stupendous live DJ function band, DJ Republic. Combining the greatest attributes of a wedding band and DJ all at once, they are most definitely the future providing a cool, contemporary and elegant way to enjoy both a DJ and live band at your wedding. Bring it on!
However, if you do choose to book both a live band and wedding DJ separately, make sure they both know about each other’s playlists for the night so there are no duplications or musical style clashes! Top tip that is.
Is there anything else you can do to help us pick?? We’re stuck!
So to round off our thought provokers, we’d suggest you try and watch a wedding DJ or wedding band before you book them. Hopefully, this will give you a firm idea of what you want at your wedding. Have a look at our guide to watching live wedding bands before you book for all the info. Luckily, if you do get to watch a DJ before you book, you are going to get a fantastic idea of how they would look and sound at your wedding. If you can try before you buy, do it!
Real-life tales of wedding bands and wedding DJ’s
So I thought we could round up this post by giving you some insight from real bride and grooms and even myself. I hope you find them insightful and useful.
What did I pick for my wedding?
In our ideal world where money was plentiful, we wanted to have both a DJ and a live wedding band. We didn’t have the budget for both, so we stuck with a wedding band. We actually got our friends in Blue Eclectic to perform and they kindly DJ’d in-between live sets too. It worked out really well and we had a memorable day busting out some shocking moves on the dancefloor. We’d still pick a wedding band as they just look and sound so much better. We don’t have anything against DJ’s it’s just that live music trumps recorded music any day for us.
A wedding DJ in Romania
Some of us at Seventh Second had the pleasure of going to our friend Andras wedding in Bucharest, Romania. We may have been abroad, but we’ve heard these stories from brides in the UK too.
“We booked a wedding DJ recommended and supplied by our wedding venue and were told he would be in touch soon. He did get in touch two weeks before the wedding and we spoke about what songs and styles we liked and when they should be played. Romanian weddings have certain music at certain times so it was important to get it right.
After playing songs we liked and getting our friends in the mood for dancing, he started playing songs we hadn’t asked for at times that weren’t suitable. I didn’t really understand what was going on. We had an empty dancefloor with a DJ playing his own favourite tunes.
We managed to get back on track after we all had a word with him but for about an hour, I had no idea what he was doing and our dancefloor was empty. I don’t know whether he knew what he was doing but as a bride on her wedding day, it was a very stressful and unpleasant experience!”
A UK brides DIY wedding tale
As mentioned in our guide about how to save money on your live wedding band in 2020, we had one friend recount her story about her DIY wedding and how she saved a lot of money. However, we asked her to speak to us again in a bit more detail about the entertainment side of things.
“We got hold of a DJ through a friend of a friend who had great reviews from them. The DJ knew a lot of us at the wedding. He was great and really listened to what we wanted. He was really good with announcements and getting the crowd going. Because we saved money all over the place including with the DJ, we managed to book a live band too and it was just the best we could have hoped for. We went from thinking we’d just have to play music through a stereo to having a DJ and band. It was perfect and I would recommend it. The music never stopped and that’s what we wanted.”
Time to pick a DJ, wedding band or both!
So, I hope this guide has helped you along your path to your perfect wedding entertainment. It’s a lot to take in so let’s start our summary with some handy infographics as promised.
Wedding DJ versus live band pros infographic
Wedding DJ versus live band cons infographic
Have a good old think
If you are thinking about booking either a DJ or wedding band then just be honest with yourself and don’t let outside influences sway you. Would a wedding band perform the songs you love convincingly? As hinted at earlier, if you want a hardcore, energetic garage or Ibiza club night vibe, stick to a DJ or an act like DJ Republic (above). What if you yearn for live music though? If you do want some amazing live musicians covering all the latest hits, romantic classics and everything in between like From the Top (below) do then book a live wedding band. Be honest with yourself, be flexible with your budget and you will reap the rewards on the night. We promise!
If we had to pick a DJ or live wedding band?
All of us at Seventh Second agree that if we could only pick one, we would pick a live wedding band over a DJ pretty much every time. This funny and serious article seems to even prove the “live fast, die young” stereotype attached to musicians. We thought that kind of cool!
For us it’s simple. Live music has a special place in everyone’s hearts. Why do we all still love to see the Rolling Stones or Coldplay perform? It’s not just the music, it’s the whole atmosphere they create. The huge trend of old bands reuniting has been fuelled by a desire from the masses to see them live once again, to see a visual and sonic show that can’t be beaten or replicated by anyone, not even DJ’s.
Finally, don’t forget about the kind of ambience and theme you want at your wedding. It will help you focus in on what entertainment you need. Both wedding DJ’s and wedding bands have their merits, just pick what’s best for you, your wedding and your guests.
If you need more help and assistance, contact us. We’re always happy to help obligation free, 10 am to 10 pm every day. I wish you a fantastic wedding with the perfect live entertainment!
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Matt and the Seventh Second Team