Band or DJ? Top tips for Music at your wedding reception

Band or DJ? Top tips for Music at your wedding reception

Choosing the kind of music for your wedding reception probably comes some way down your list of priorities. That’s understandable, but a mistake – the music sets the tone and can make all the difference to a party that rocks…and one that never really gets going. Here are some things to bear in mind before your guests hit the dancefloor.

What tone are you trying to set?

The music has to be in keeping with the theme of your wedding and the nature of the venue. A boho wedding in a barn? Think folk, country, hippy or a ceilidh band. A smart formal affair in a smart hotel? A jazz band, string quartet, classical ensemble, or solo/duo guitar is appropriate. Something a bit more relaxed and fun? A rock and pop covers band or a DJ playing classic hits should work well.

Band or DJ?

If you love live music and have sufficient budget then a band is probably the way to go. Costs depend on how many musicians are included, length of set and the band’s popularity. You’re probably looking at paying anything between £1000-£5000. Unless you want a recognised star, of course - Elton John has charged £1.5 million to play at a wedding, Mariah Carey has been paid £2.5 million and the Rolling Stones would refuse to rock up for anything less than £5 million!

If your budget won’t stretch to a live band at your wedding, or you have dozens of songs you'd like played perfectly (the way they sound on Spotify!), then a DJ is the answer. A live band provides more energy but a DJ offers more variety and doesn’t need to take breaks between numbers.

Think well ahead to avoid disappointment

Don’t leave it too late to hire your band or DJ. Popular wedding entertainers will be booked up at least twelve months in advance, especially during the summer.

Ask a friend

Get band and DJ recommendations from those you know – put the word out on social media, message friends and keep your ears open when you go to weddings, festivals or other live music events.

Consider your guests

You might love punk, reggae or americana but think about your guests and the kind of music that’s likely to get them on the dance floor. Ask the band or DJ to mix it up so there’s enough variety for a range of tastes and ages.

Questions to ask your venue

If you want a live band at your wedding reception make sure your venue permits this – most have no problem, but make sure. Also, are there any restrictions on arrival and set up times? Will there be any issues with sound levels? Does the music have to stop at a certain time? Also, consider the size of the room and how much space will be required for the musicians and dancefloor.

Watch them live

Try to see your band or DJ perform at an actual event before you make your final decision. They might sound and look great on a video but how well do they work a crowd? Also, make sure the line-up you see is the one that’s going to turn up for your big day!

Playlist, tempo and volume

Choose what song you want for that all important first dance, as well as the father daughter dance, and the mother son dance. Make sure the band or DJ is clear on this and ask them to introduce each event before playing the number.

If you hire the band or DJ to play at several stages during the day and evening think about the tempo. You might want upbeat swing music for your drinks reception, followed by instrumental classical music or jazz for your wedding breakfast, then tunes to get guests onto the dancefloor once the full-on party begins. The volume is important – you don’t want the music so loud guests have to shout, especially before or during the meal.

Small print

Most bands or DJ will have a contract “rider” that spells out what they need – it will usually cover everything from refreshments to power requirement, the hours they’ll perform and whether you can ask for an extension at the end. A happy band or DJ will give it their all so be sure you meet their requirements.

Rock on!

We hope you find these tips helpful and that you and your wedding guests enjoy dancing late into the night!

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