Wedding Reception Entertainment: Band or Disc Jockey?

Steven Weinmeister Firefall BandBeing a guest at wedding receptions over the years that featured both bands and a disc jockey leaves a lot to ponder. Some receptions had very good bands, some were mediocre, and many that were just plain terrible.

Certainly, modern brides seem to like the appeal of live entertainment at their special celebration because of the energy and excitement a band can bring. Some can play well and, from my experience, can be great at creating an atmosphere that ignites a crowd. They can also keep a dance floor going by extending a jam session.

But for brides seriously debating between the two, here are 15 critical questions to ask a band, from the book “The Best Wedding Reception…Ever!” by Peter Merry:

  1. How will you perform my special songs?
  2. How many songs and genres can you currently perform?
  3. How do you deal with special requests or dedications made at the reception?
  4. Who will be making the announcements at our reception?
  5. Can we see uncut video footage of wedding announcements you have made at weddings in the past?
  6. What training have you taken to develop your skills as a Master of Ceremonies to maintain the flow of the reception?
  7. What is your policy on taking breaks at our reception?
  8. Do you have extra band members available so that breaks can be rotated?
  9. What is your policy on meals? Do I have to feed everyone?
  10. Do you have a DJ on staff to play a mix of requested recorded music during breaks?
  11. How will you prevent “dead air” from occurring at my reception?
  12. What responsibility do you take for directing the pacing and flow of my reception’s agenda?
  13. How will you communicate with the other vendors about my agenda while you are performing?
  14. How do you measure the volume at the reception and can your volume levels be adjusted and turned down if requested?
  15. What can you tell me about your service and performance that sets you apart from all the rest?

On the DJ side, one thing to consider is that an experienced, professional wedding MC/DJ will often do much more than simply play music. Often, the wedding DJ becomes the one assumed to serve as the wedding Master of Ceremonies.

This is the person solely responsible for building and facilitating all the highlights at your reception in a seamless, smooth flow – while simultaneously keeping guests involved and entertained (all without a break.)

DJs play a much wider variety of music than a band, often encompassing the 1920s to the current era, with every imaginable genre. A DJ’s music will sound exactly how it was played and recorded by the original artist instead of the band’s rendition of a particular song. A trained, experienced wedding MC/DJ that has played in a variety of venues should measure the dance volume multiple times, and adjust and control it as necessary.

A DJ often takes far less space (and electric power) to perform – which can be a critical consideration, depending on the venue and guest count. Finally, in addition to the bottom-line cost, let’s face it: if you choose to feed the entertainer(s), with a band, that might require five meals (or more) versus just one for the DJ.

In the end, the decision is up to the bride and groom and the atmosphere they desire; but if a bride wants a band, the best advice might be to hire a professional wedding MC/DJ to work with and do everything the band cannot do (fill in during breaks with a wide variety of music; build and maintain the seamless flow as the MC; properly make announcements; coordinate with other wedding professionals, etc.) We’re being asked to do this more and more, and have enjoyed working with some fantastic bands and singers, like Steven Weinmeister and Steve Manshel from the legendary band, Firefall.