Band vs. DJ

Many couples debate hiring a band versus a DJ. Others find a compromise, hiring live musicians for the ceremony and / or cocktail hour, then having a DJ take over at dinner time with introductions, toasts and formal dances. We have worked with several excellent live musicians over the years. Links to their websites can be found at our Partners page.

For those weighing the pros and cons of a band or a DJ, here are several important considerations (keeping in mind that we're DJs so we're somewhat biased):

Band  DJ 
Setup Flexibility: A band's setup is much more complex than that of a DJ.  This can prevent a band from being able to cover the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, all of which are usually held in separate locations.

Setup Flexibility: A well-organized and properly-equipped DJ can easily address the unique needs of weddings, with separate systems for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.

Breaks: Bands usually play about 20-30 songs, filling 1/2 to 2/3 of the time for which they are hired.  The rest of the time, they take breaks, ending the momentum of the party. 

Breaks: DJ's keep the music going (and your guests dancing) all night without taking breaks. 

Stage Presence: People go out to see a band.  They go out to dance to a DJ.  Bands offer a stage presence that commands attention and works well for couples seeking to put on a "show" at their reception, rather than have non-stop dancing. 

Stage Presence: Conversely, couples looking for a less intrusive approach may prefer a professional, unobtrusive DJ....  One who can maintain constant excitement on the dance floor and keep the focus of attention on the couple and their celebration (the dance floor), rather than on the DJ (the stage).

Volume Level: Music volume levels are a serious concern for wedding guests who want to be able to converse at the reception.  Bands have limited control over their sound levels and generally play much louder than a DJ.  

Volume Level: The higher production quality of recorded music, with every instrument and vocal balanced in the studio, makes it sounds great at any volume level.  This allows the DJ to adjust levels as necessary throughout the event. 

Music Variety: Bands are limited to what songs they know how to play well.  Many play the same 20-30 songs at every reception.  Very few have the ability to play the vast array of musical genre required by the mixed age groups at most weddings.  

Music Variety: A DJ can offer nearly limitless variety and flexibility, from classics to current.  Being able to play Duke Ellington, Journey and Katy Perry allows a DJ to create a truly tailored play list and keep all your guests happy. 

Song Familiarity: People like to dance to music they know.  Bands do their best to imitate the way a song should sound, but many bands lack the instruments for all the parts (no trumpet for the trumpet solos, etc.) and few have both a male and female vocalist.  Listening to a less than spectacular band attempt to cover your favorite song can be a painful experience. 

Song Familiarity: A DJ can play exactly the music you have imagined for your wedding: your favorite songs by your favorite artists that sound exactly as you and your guests expect them to sound.  We live for those moments when we hit the start button and immediately hear a guest say "I love this song!" 

Reliability: If one member of a band can't do the event, trying to find someone to play the same instruments and know the parts of the other band members can be nearly impossible, thereby forcing the band to cancel. 

Reliability: A reputable DJ company will always have another trained DJ on stand-by to cover an event when necessary.  We regularly receive last-minute calls during the wedding season from couples who's bands or single-operator DJs have cancelled. 

Cost: A great wedding band can cost several thousand dollars. 

Cost: A great DJ can be had for about $2000. 

Ipod vs. DJ: Is an "ipod / laptop wedding" worth the risk?

Enough people have been to disasterous "DJ It Yourself" weddings that we're now seeing a reverse of this trend. Trying to replace an experienced, professional and properly-equipped DJ with a mobile device or laptop can be a monumentally difficult, if not defeating, task. Below are several good reasons why a DJ is worth the investment.

  1. Coordination: An iPod / laptop can't work with your coordinator throughout the evening, anticipating the order of events and making sure everything runs smoothly.
  2. Announcements: An iPod / laptop can’t act as the Master of Ceremonies, making any required announcements in a concise, professional manner.
  3. Reading the crowd: An iPod / laptop can’t take requests, guage audience reaction, or beat-mix considering tempo and genre to create a set of music that builds energy and excitement on the dance floor.
  4. Experience: An iPod can't help plan a memorable reception by giving advice about music and event flow that's based on years of experience.
  5. Hassle: Couples using an iPod / laptop must rent, pickup, setup, operate, teardown and return a sound system. Most systems available for rent are not of the same quality as those used by professional DJs who use their systems every weekend and take pride in their sound.
  6. Backup Gear: Most rental systems do not come with any backup gear, as a top-notch professional DJ would. ...and who is going to diagnose a problem and get the system running again if a component or cable fails?
  7. File Sound Quality: Mp3's used in mobile devices are a fraction of the size of, and do not yield the same sound quality as, full size, CD quality .wav files used by the best DJs.
  8. Empty Dance Floors: Ipod / laptop weddings usually involve a few of the couple's closest friends hovering around the ipod / laptop discussing what song to play next, while the rest of the guests walk off the dancefloor.
  9. Guest Reaction: The purpose of a reception is, in part, to show appreciation to your guests, many of whom have traveled, given up their time, and provided you with a wedding gift. If you use an iPod / laptop, guests who have experienced a great DJ at other weddings will be disappointed with your choice of entertainment.
  10. Reception Success: Because of the less than stellar way in which an unsuccessful reception reflects on their well-established business, many wedding venue owners no longer allow clients to do iPod / laptop weddings. One innkeeper told me that he enacted this rule after having 3 different couples try to "DJ it themselves" with a laptop. He elaborated with the following: "I had more fun at the last 3 memorial services I attended than the guests had at those weddings. At the last one, people started leaving two hours early."

Considering the above facts, and the amount that you're spending on your entire wedding, which is a better investment: a mobile device or an experienced DJ? At Peak Entertainment, we want your wedding to be the best it can be. Thanks for your time in reading this.