Should I have a Band or DJ at My Wedding? | Wedding Planning Guide

Should I have a Band or DJ at My Wedding?

The Brass Monkees wedding band on the dance floor

Should you have a Band or DJ at your Wedding? Well, obviously I’m not going to tell you what to do, but…

For me, you can’t beat live music. It brings energy, interaction and entertainment. A good band will bring their own style and give your party a lively atmosphere. They’ll put on a show and provide entertainment for people who aren’t already rocking out. The Brass Monkees (above) are a prime example of this!

I would encourage you to ask if your band can play your first dance song, as it makes your first dance that little bit more unique. If they don’t know it, they may be happy to learn it especially for you.

Most decent bands offer a DJ service, which while won’t match the quality of a professional DJ isn’t a bad option for music between sets.

Some bands also offer a stripped back acoustic or singer / songwriter setup for the daytime, with more band members joining in the evening. Which is a great way to add to the atmosphere during the day.

However, I realise that live music isn’t for everyone. If you have a varied music taste then perhaps a DJ is a better option. A DJ could be slightly cheaper than a band too as there are fewer people to pay.

A DJ has a slightly different role to play in a wedding when compared to a band. They tend not to put on a show, and instead, their skill & value is reading the room and choosing the right track for the right moment.

If you’re the sort of people who don’t really like bands but still want the energy that live music can bring. Then perhaps a good compromise would be to hire a live saxophonist, trumpeter or even a drummer to play alongside your DJ. This brings the energy and interaction of live music while keeping the flexibility of a DJ’s playlist.

When choosing any entertainment, it’s a good idea to check out live videos if possible and read reviews. If it’s not obvious, ask about what lighting they provide. Good lighting is important to create a killer party atmosphere, but it’s absolutely essential if you’re opting for a DJ.

Advice on Choosing a Wedding Band

I’ve asked a few of my favourite bands for some helpful tips, tricks and advice. This is what they had to say…

Music HQ

Trilogy wedding band playing at Plas Dinam

Rory from Music HQ says:

“All of our bands have tailored their own unique and comprehensive list of first dance songs that they LOVE to perform for their happy couples. If they’re in love with the idea of the band perform the first dance live, then we always advise that every song on this list has been tried and tested and a certified gem for that very special moment.”

And offers this word of warning…

“Before booking a band, it’s imperative you speak to your venue about restrictions or limitations for live music. We can work with most things, of course, but it’s always a shame when clients book our bands and later finds out from their venue that they have a live music curfew of 10 pm, or that there is a sound limiter which means the band can’t perform their usual set. It might seem silly, but it’s incredibly important when booking a great live band to have these things in place so you can party the right way!”


Anthemic Wedding Band playing at Plas Dinam

Dylan Penri from Anthemic Wedding Band & Dylan Penri Music / Cerdd says that…

“The band needs to be right for the event you’re staging. It is also important that the band are playing the genre of music that you like, e.g. not choosing a reggae band and then asking them to play Foo Fighters!”

The Alchemists

The Alchemists playing a barn wedding in North Wales

Ryan from The Alchemists recommends

“Waiting for the goosebumps! Go for the styles and themes first, as with so many great bands out there, it’ll really help to narrow down the list.”

Hard To Handle

Hard to Handle live band playing at a Tyn Dwr Wedding

Hard to Handle point out you should also…

“Ensure the band you hire hold public liability insurance (PLI) and that they can provide you with a contract, like other wedding service providers.”

Advice on Choosing a Wedding DJ

I spoke to a few of my favourite DJs and asked them what advice they give to couples trying to choose a wedding DJ.

Chicks With Decks

Chicks With Decks wedding DJ

Diana from Chicks with Decks explains how she keeps the dance floor full all night long.

“I will find out, firstly, the kind of feel you want to go for during the evening. Are you cool clubbers? Indie/festival kids? R&B fans? Or do you want a bit of everything and a heap of wedding classics?

Then we look at the musical genres that you like to dance to, then to your groomsmen and/or bridesmaids, friends, family and other guests – does anyone have a musical passion that you’d like me to include?

Then we explore your favourite artists, the songs that remind you of when you met, your first holiday, your stag/hen night songs, together with BIG songs you have as a family and a friendship group.

Then, sometimes just as important…. what DON’T you want to hear? Do I take requests or keep the playlist tight? Add that to your “Top 10 must-plays”, your first dance, follow-on dances and last dance and you’ll see that your playlist has been personalised to YOUR wedding day.

All this, with an experienced DJ, who cares about your night, can read the room, see what’s working, drop some surprise tracks into the mix to surprise and delight you… your dance floor will be bouncing and you’ll remember the night long after the music has stopped.”

The Hi-Life

The Hi-Life wedding DJ playing Yorkshire tipi wedding

Mark from The Hi-Life has developed his own online questionnaire to ask clients not only for specific tracks they would like but also what they don’t want & other things relating to the music policy.

Harrogate Wedding & Event Hire

Rob from Harrogate Wedding & Event Hire suggests

“Sending each guest a request slip with your wedding invites. Or setting up a Facebook group where you and your wedding guests can talk about music and throw a few ideas around.”

Harrogate Wedding & Event DJ playing Yorkshire wedding

Chris Morse’s Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding