The big question in wedding entertainment has long been “Should we hire a band or deejay?” There are a few ways you can answer that question for yourself depending on what you’re envisioning for your wedding.
MUSIC SELECTION: Do you like the dynamic sound of a 15-piece band or do you want to hear songs exactly as they were recorded? Will you have a lot of musical preferences from many different genres or are you a “best of the ’80s” girl?
With a deejay you’ll have a larger range of options and will also have the opportunity to play songs exactly as they sound on the radio. With bands, however, you’ll have the undeniable impact of live music, but it just may not be the exact version of your favorites. And bands may not be as versatile as a deejay who can play your parent’s favorite Spanish favorites along with Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi and Eminem. If you have an eclectic taste in music that spans many different decades and styles, a deejay may be a better choice, especially if you want to hear your favorite tunes as they were originally recorded.
SOPHISTICATION: There’s honestly nothing better than live music to set a sophisticated tone and create the environment that best suits your wedding. The sound is better, the energy can be better and the band leader will serve as your master of ceremonies, basically moving your wedding reception from one phase to the next and selecting music to fit each moment, including energetic bride and groom announcements, calming dinner music, fun dance music and the perfect way to end the evening. Deejays will certainly perform these duties as well, but there’s truly nothing like live music.
SPACE: Take your venue’s space into consideration when deciding between a deejay or band. A large band obviously takes up a significantly greater amount of space than a deejay. So if your space is limited, the choice will be easy for you.
COST: A deejay is significantly less expensive than a band—up to seven times less. So if you’re being cost-conscious, this detail will be hard to deny. But again, some can’t put a value on a live band playing live music, making this decision priceless.
Whichever you decide on—band or deejay—here are some questions to keep in mind when interviewing your musical options. Great entertainment makes for a great wedding, with an electric-personality deejay spinning the perfect songs or a fabulous band keeping the dance floor packed, as well as making all the big announcements like introducing you into the reception, announcing your first dances and saying something more engaging than “How’s everybody DOING!” and ‘Are you ready to PARTY!”
A great band leader or deejay is somebody you’d want to invite to your wedding as a guest, since he or she adds a great energy to it. You’ll get a feel for their vibe when you meet, watching videos of them in action. Like your dress, you’ll know The One by the way you feel. Vibe aside, you have to ask some important questions, and there’s one in here that you might not even have known was possible.
1. Are you a licensed, professional music company? While there may be talented independent deejays and bands out there, it’s always best to hire professional entertainers through a legitimate company that offers legal contracts, insurance, a range of packages, and has met the standards of professional associations. A pro company maintains an actual, physical office (with a street address on their website) that you can visit (and isn’t some sweaty, shady guy in his basement with email), as well as having a staff that responds to your correspondence right away. A professional company that has a great reputation, perhaps being the entertainers your friend or cousin hired recently, is a real company.
2. Will you be our bandleader or deejay? The person you meet with might be the office manager, so no matter how electric his personality is, he’s just the guy who books the weddings. You want to meet with the actual deejay or bandleader who will be working your wedding. Pro companies often have a roster of qualified options, and you get to view videos to choose the ones you’d like to meet. It’s kind of like online dating. You want to make sure the person you meet is the same guy in the picture, and that you get a good vibe. If the company owner is the bandleader or deejay who will work your wedding, you’ll subject him to the same quality checklist you’d apply to any other professional.
3. Do you offer a walk-through of the wedding venue in the weeks before the wedding? This one surprises many wedding couples who never knew you could do that. During this walk-through of your site, even if the deejay or band says they’ve worked that ballroom before, you’ll discuss where they will set up, plan for lighting effects, create the itinerary for the day, and map out where you’d like to make your big entrance into the room. This walk-through is most often free as part of the package, so ask for it.
4. If hiring a deejay, how do you get your music? Expert deejays subscribe to a digital music service that sends them the newest singles every week, ensuring that they have the latest hits, remixes, acoustic versions, cultural music you want, and a range of songs in their library. If you request any songs not in their database, they’ll get them for you. Many professional deejays also travel with a mobile wifi connection so that they can grab a song off the internet, if needed. That amateur running a business out of his basement probably isn’t this hooked up with top-quality music access.
5. What will you wear? You want the band or deejay to fit in with the formality of your event, so it’s perfectly okay to ask if they wear a tux and long gowns or if they show up in clubbing attire. Since you don’t want to be surprised by a deejay standing on the stage in a pink sequined jacket (unless you asked for it!) or your main singer in jeans, ask about wardrobe.
And finally, find out how you’ll work together. Does your music professional communicate via email or do they offer a password-protected file-share that lets you log into your itinerary, add some songs to your playlist, fill in the names of your bridal party and parents for the intro into the room and create your Don’t-Play list? It’s important, before you book, to know what it will be like to work with them, as you co-create your personalized reception that’s not like every other wedding out there.
These aren’t the only questions, of course. You want to ask packages, payment due dates, refund and cancellation policies, all the important topics you’re addressing with each of your wedding vendors. But these are some important ones to broach as you invest the time in finding the entertainer who is The One.