Should you hire a DJ or a Band for your wedding?
“Should I hire a DJ or a Band for my wedding?” This is one of the most popular questions that we get asked. I’m sure you want the answer so we listened. I’m Nathan Op De Coul, the managing director of Melbourne Entertainment Company. We are one of the leading wedding entertainment suppliers in Australia, particularly in the Melbourne market.
The Difference Between a DJ and a Band
First of all, a DJ is a bit more versatile than a Band. What I mean by that is, they have the ability to play pretty much any song that you want. If the song exists, it can be played.
For bands, taking a request on the night is a little more difficult. You can’t just all of the sudden learn the song on the spot. The band has to know that song and it usually has to be a relatively common song in order to be in the band’s repertoire. So to take requests, DJs can be a little bit more versatile. So that’s definitely a key takeaway on the DJ front.
Interactivity of a DJ vs a Band
Interactivity is definitely what the band has over a DJ, as an advantage.
For a DJ, they pretty much have to stay behind the decks the whole time throughout the night. They have to be changing songs, picking songs, moving buttons, and changing phases. Everything has to be done from behind the decks, and it’s harder for a DJ to be more interactive. They can dance around a little bit behind the deck, point to some people, but they will never have quite the same level of interaction that you get from a live band.
A live band can have a front singer, a woman, a man, and a sax player. They can jump in a crowd, or play with the crowd. You’ve got that real live presence and that’s something that a DJ can’t catch up with. So in that regard, a band would have more advantages over a DJ in terms of interactivity.
Cost of a DJ or Band
Obviously, the cost is a major factor. Weddings aren’t cheap, we know that. But they are an investment in the happiest day of your life. You definitely don’t want to skimp out on having some poor quality entertainment because it will punch well above its weight in terms of the investment.
Your entertainment may cost less than 10 percent of your total wedding budget. However, if done poorly, your entertainment can ruin 50 to 60 percent of your day and your evening. So think about that.
Having said that, obviously a band is going to generally cost more than a DJ because you have more people there. You’re going to pay twice as many staff, and that’s just for two people or maybe even 5 people, whereas a DJ is usually one.
There are also travel costs. If you’re interstate, you will have to include in your budget the accommodation cost, and meals for the band members. They all do add up. Obviously, a band is going to be a more costly option than a DJ.
But having said that there are alternatives where you can combine a DJ and a band
Can you have both a DJ and a band?
The answer is an absolute yes! You can have both a DJ and a band at your wedding. It actually works the best because you get a really good combination of the versatility of a DJ to be able to play those key songs when I get asked by the guests. And you get a live element that a band brings that a DJ just can’t compete with. Having a combination with those two on the night is exceptional.
I’ll talk to you a little bit about what we are offering to combine the two.
Breaks for DJ vs a Band
Bands can’t play for 5 hours straight. They just can’t. They get tired and they need a break. They need a 10 to 15-minute break usually every hour.
It’s less exhausting for the DJs. They can continue to play and continue throughout the whole night. No need to worry about them taking a 15-minute break in-between the dance floor set, which usually happens on live band performers. But still, they do need a short break.
Timeline of how Bands and DJs work and when they play together.
So if you would have both, which is a question we talked about above, usually, you would have a band or acoustic option over your ceremony time or canape time. Some nice relaxing acoustic covers with champagne out of a deck or wherever your canape area is in your wedding venue.
If you were to have a couple of specific requests for when you enter during the bridal entrance, a DJ can queue up specific points of different songs and play those as different couples are entering. So you can personalize the entrance song for each couple if you wish.
It doesn’t really make sense for the band to cut halfway into a song and play the middle of the chorus. It will sound a little bit more off and it will be more challenging for a band. Particularly if they do that three or four times, it is going to sound a little bit funny. So if you’re thinking of different songs for different people on the entrance, the DJ is definitely the way to go.
For a DJ and a band combination, they will have to set up before the wedding. That’s a very important aspect to think about. A lot of enquiries I come in and say, “We only need a DJ for the last 2 hours”, which is a great thought. You may want the DJ from 9 till 11 p.m, for example. However, one consideration you haven’t thought about is, you can’t just have a DJ arrive at 8:30 or 8, set up, and then start playing at 9pm. Considering how much time and money you invested in your wedding day, you don’t want them wheeling their equipment and crashing-in while your crowd is having dinner. It’s recommended that you have your DJ arrive beforehand with the band.
It’s best having them playing interchangeably throughout the night so that the DJ is DJing when the band is not playing for the first hours, and then alternating that way.
In addition, I know you’re thinking that it’s going to be cheaper to have our DJ just perform for just 2 hours since that’s roughly the amount of time that we need a DJ for. You’re going to be quoted roughly the same price for a 2-hour set from 9pm till 11pm as you would from 6pm until 11pm, with the setup. Because we, as a business, have to pay them for their idle time.
That’s another consideration to take into account. You’re not going to get a great deal by saying you only need 1 hour or 2 hours of DJing. These DJs are not going to come out for just one hour, they are still going to get paid as they would for a normal evening of work.
Hybrid DJ option
So hopefully that wraps the answer to “Can you have both a DJ and a band at your wedding?” The answer is definitely and resoundingly yes, and it is awesome when you do.
If you’re more constrained for the budget, we have a solution, which is a DJ who has an additional skill. He might play the saxophone. That’s what I do, as I said, I’m a bit biased simply because I’m a DJ who plays a saxophone.
We also have DJs who could sing, or play the guitar. You can have these kinds of hybrid entertainers throughout the entire day, and that will be more cost-efficient because you only have one entertainer to pay for.
You have a bit of live interactivity from the additional skills. They can do it whether at singing or with the sax. This gives them a reason to jump into the crowd and get involved. This will give you that level of interactivity that a DJ-only cannot provide. We call these performers “Hybrid DJs.” It’s actually what we’re very well known for in our business. It’s what we spend time training for because we envision it to be a great solution for the next 10 years of wedding entertainment.
It’s a risk because you’re putting your whole wedding entertainment into one person. But you have come to a reputable company, like Melbourne Entertainment Company. Our talent list is very strong. There are many backups in case anything unforeseeable happens.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of an overview of the question on whether I should have a wedding band or a DJ.
Maybe your fiance wants a band, or you want a DJ, or maybe you want both. You’re thinking “I just don’t know how we’re going to afford to pay for both, because it is going to push the price up?”
A piece of advice would be that you consider your wedding entertainment as something that should be as important as your venue or photographer. Those are the top three. People often prioritize things like cocktails on arrival. That stuff looks great, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to make or break your wedding.
Having poor quality entertainment can make or break your wedding. You just don’t want to have someone who is 30 or 40 years outside your age bracket rock up and play the nut bush expecting everyone on the dance floor to do the chicken dance.
You’ve got to make sure you invest in a professional, someone who knows what they’re doing. Someone who is well trained, and I can’t speak highly enough of that.