One of the biggest decisions facing a couple when planning their big day is entertainment. And to be more precise band or DJ or both. Here at the Irish wedding DJ association we would like to point out a few tips to help couples make the best entertainment decisions. We will try to remain unbiased toward our own profession. There are good points for having a live band, or a DJ, and a few things to keep in mind when deciding. Sometimes couples choose to hire both a DJ and live musicians, and when your budget allows it, that can be a great option. We have worked with bands and live musicians many times, and now we’d like to offer some tips based on our experience.
Let’s start at the beginning (vows)
If you aren’t having a traditional wedding, and your venue does not have it’s own PA system (or it does and it sounds terrible), you will need someone to run the microphone sound levels for the officiant and vows to be heard. We have all been to a ceremony when we cant hear the vows. If the band offers a PA for your officiant and vows, make sure they will personally control the sound and not simply set it and forget it. Some people speak more softly than others and the person controlling the sound can adjust for this. If you book a professional DJ they will be next to audio mixer allowing him to adjust mic levels instantly
make sure your DJ or Band does this to avoid any problems which could ruin your Ceremony. If the Band doesn’t have a PA system for the officiant and vows, you may need a DJ to provide the Ceremony sound system, which is usually an additional cost…If your budget is a concern, remember that the DJ can provide the sound support for the ceremony as well as play all of your ceremony music for a nominal additional cost, while bands/musicians can cost quite a bit more. Also, Bands often have multiple members who all come with many pieces of equipment that can take up quite a bit of space. The musicians may have several amps or instruments that require electrical outlets to be available while a DJ requires only 1 outlet. Also, many musicians play by reading sheet music which means between songs you may have a “gap of silence” while they prepare the next song. DJ’s come prepared with a full list of music selected by the couple or based on the DJ’s experience and the general wishes of the couple, and there is no gap in the music. DJs usually only need some speakers and a wireless microphone and laptop or iPad and mixer (and some backup equipment for emergencies), so they take up very little space and are not a focal point of attention. Finally, (this one is very important!) if you hire a musician or band, it is crucial that you hear them play live. You don’t have to hear a DJ play live, because a DJ is playing pre-recorded music that you know will sound great…as long as the sound system is a good one and the DJ is experienced with performing Ceremonies, but a live musician who provides a “demo” may have polished the recording to perfection but when it comes time to play live, they simply aren’t that good. Ask to see them play live, at least for those key Processional songs you’ve chosen. We don’t want to step on any toes, we simply want to caution our clients to make certain the musicians they hire are proficient players.
Let’s move on to your evening entertainment
a band has the look of a classic wedding long before there were DJ’s with CD’s or laptops. Good Bands create a great atmosphere and an interactive experience which people take a mental picture of throughout the day, Bands generally bring a lot of energy to an event, BUT, DJs can also have a wow factor when they run an event flawlessly, can be as interactive as the clients want them to be.
Things to keep in mind:
Bands might have an awesome set list to choose from, but they usually have a limited number of songs and styles they can play. Should you want to change the feel of your music on the fly, this may be impossible for them in most cases. And remember, if the band uses sheet music they may have that “gap of silence” between each song that can be very off putting for your guests. A Great band will have a fixed set of music which they’ve memorized and prepared for and generally there is little to no gap between songs…but those bands cost a lot more money. Great bands memorize their music, it’s just that simple. The good DJs will usually have gone over music with the clients and have arranged a list of songs that fit the couple’s idea for the feel of the night. This music list can include popular hits everyone can sing and tap their toes to, or favorite bands that the couple love. The theme can be changed at any moment using a giant library of music already installed in the DJ’s computer. Professional DJs will have smooth song transitions and with no “gap of silence.”
Also, With a band it may be hard to control the volume levels unless they have a professional sound technician with them. Without a sound technician, a guitarist’s amp may be too loud while a singer or trumpet player is getting louder trying to compensate, this isn’t ideal. DJ’s control their sound by walking around during a song and checking levels to make sure the music isn’t too loud or is just loud enough…or in some cases, meets the noise requirements set by a Venue.
Bands are lively, fun, loud, and energetic…the good ones are, anyway. DJs can be all of those things too. Really great wedding bands cost anywhere from 2500 euro while really Great DJs can cost a fraction of that price. These prices are based on location, experience, talent, reputation, number of musicians, and of course, supply and demand. For the dancing portion of your wedding, you have to ask yourself “do I want all styles of music?and if so, “do I want a band that plays their own rendition of those songs? Or do I want to hear the Actual Original Recorded version song itself? “ That’s what it really boils down to. Beyond that, keep in mind that DJ’s can act as the MC and provide all of the music across tens of thousands of songs, prearranged or on the fly, while bands may have an MC, to assure that you’re getting a good one, you’ll have to pay for it.
It’s important to interview DJs and determine how they will Look, Sound, and “feel” in front of all of your guests. You can tell if that person has the right personality, experience, and expertise you are looking for to provide the right music and be a great MC for your most special day. With a Band, you need to interview them to determine their MCing abilities and just how involved they will be with the execution of the timeline and announcements, and you absolutely need to hear them play live so you know exactly what you’re getting ahead of time.
You can see that there are many reasons why you should or should not hire a band and/or a DJ. Bands are not our competition and we love to work together with them side by side, sharing the entertainment responsibilities while we usually act as the MC. It’s comparing apples to oranges when you really consider everything you get from both types of entertainment. Your decision should be about what will make your night fun, entertaining, stress-free, and an event that you and your guests will never forget. We at the wedding DJ association hope you found this blog helpful, if you have any queries drop us an email for free advice