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How to Pick the Perfect Wedding DJ or Band

May 18, 2020

Georgia wedding band

Music is one of the most important components of an event. And I mean any event, but ESPECIALLY weddings. Even the music that is playing while your guests are eating dinner can help set the mood and tone for the rest of the evening. It can also help tell a story or represent your personalities. But how in the world do you pick the right vendor to trust with such an important aspect of your wedding? Well, let’s talk through some of my biggest pointers. 

Step 1: Determine your Entertainment Budget

First things first, determine your entertainment budget. Start by viewing ball park or average pricing for wedding bands/DJ’s. You can check out some national averages here:

After you know a little bit about *average* costs for a band or DJ, then decide if you’d like to save or splurge on this vendor. In my opinion, music is definitely an area you should splurge on if you can (like mentioned above, music can make or break a reception), but ultimately, make this decision based on the atmosphere you want at your reception. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine how much you want to invest in your entertainment:

  1. Do you want your reception to be dancing heavy?
    1. If NO: then your reception entertainment isn’t the biggest ticket item on your list. Choose a band/DJ that will serve the purpose of providing great music for mingling. You can definitely save here. 
    2. If YES: Music is a big ticket item for you. You might need to look at your overall budget and see if you can save somewhere else in order to add more to your entertainment budget. You’ll want a kickbutt band or DJ to keep that dancefloor full.
  2. Are your wedding guests big dancers? Or will they need a little bit of help staying active and engaged on the dance floor?
    1. If BIG DANCERS: Music is a big ticket item for you, but it’s mainly about the music. You can find a band/DJ that has an amazing set list with music that caters to all of your guests and leave it at that, unless you just want to fuel the fire with extras of course! 
    2. If your crowd needs to be guided to the dancefloor: Music is super duper important, but you also need a GREAT emcee (master of ceremonies). You need a band/DJ that has the capability to interact with your guests and get them up out of their chairs! Lighting, disco balls, and games help too! These things will typically cost a bit more, so make sure to look at your budget and account for this. 

Okay, now you know what you want to spend on your entertainment, it’s time to start the research. 

Step 2: Decide if you want a DJ or a Band

Now that you know how much you can spend and how much music means to your wedding, you can decide whether you want a band or a DJ. This is a huge decision, but I’ve put together a list of Pro’s & Con’s for each to help with your decision. You can check that out here:

Once you’ve decided on a band or a DJ, then you can start making a list of things you are going to look for in your wedding music. 

Step 3: Decide what types of music you want played at the wedding

To start, ask yourself what type of music do you want played at your wedding? 

Think about the types of music you and fiance typically listen to, then narrow down your party music from there. And if you’re wanting to keep your entire crowd on the dance floor all night long, think about what types of music they like too. Do your parents love ACDC and Lynyrd Skynyrd? Are you grandparents and older folks big Elvis fans? Throw those artists/genres onto your “must be able to play” list! 

wedding ceremony music
String Trio: We Three Strings
Photo by: South and West

Step 4: Research Entertainment Vendors in your area that meet your criteria

Now that you know what types of music you want incorporated in your wedding music, it’s time to start looking for Bands/DJ’s that offer those types of set lists. 

Make a list of 5-10 Bands/DJ’s in your area, then start your research. Look at their websites, set lists, watch videos of their performances, package prices, and read reviews. After you’ve knocked a few off of your list with your initial research, go a step further and check out your top picks on Social Media. Do they put off a vibe you would like at your reception? Do you think their personalities can keep your crowd going for the duration of the reception? Do you like their emcee voice? 

Step 5: Schedule Consultation Calls

Once you get your short list narrowed down to 2-3 vendors, then reach out to schedule consultation calls. 

To prepare for your consultation calls, I’ve compiled a list of golden questions to ask to make sure you ultimately pick the perfect DJ or Band:

  1. Do you offer music for the ceremony, reception, cocktail hour, and dinner as well? If so, what type of music/what type of instruments are included? 
  2. What is your setup like? Will we have to rent any equipment and bring it in or do you bring it all? 
  3. What equipment do you provide? (Lapel Microphones for ceremony, cordless microphones, lighting, table, speakers, generator, power source, other fun add-ons)
  4. Are you able to move locations in between the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and the reception? 
  5. Have you worked at our venue before? Are you familiar with their layout and provided equipment? 
  6. Do you act as emcee for the duration of the reception? What tactics do you use to keep the energy up?
  7. Do you have a predetermined set list or can we create a custom list for our wedding? 
  8. For bands – do you learn and play our “special dances” (first dance, father/daughter, mother/son dance) or do you play the original recorded versions via MP3? 
  9. How long/how many breaks do you take? What do you play during those breaks? Are we allowed to make our own playlist for these breaks?
  10. Do you allow song requests from guests during the reception? 
  11. Who will be present with you on wedding day? Is there a backup if you get sick or are unable to perform? 
  12. What is your booking process? Do you have software available to make choosing our set list and special songs easier? 
  13. Do you meet with the couple before the wedding? 
  14. What costs are associated with our wedding needs? What is the deposit amount and when is the final payment due? 
Emerald Empire Band
Photo by: Mandi Mitchell Photography

You’re Ready!

I know I just spit a lot of info at you. But I know if you do your research and ask the right questions (to yourself and your potential entertainment vendor) you will wind up hiring the PERFECT Band or DJ for your wedding. 

If you have any questions about this process, please let me know, I’d be happy to help! 

As always, Happy Wedding Planning!


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Planning Tips

  1. Olivia Smart says:

    Thank you for explaining that you should do some consultation calls after you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three vendors. My daughter has been wondering how to find a good DJ for her wedding. I’ll share your advice with her since it seems like it will help her to make a final decision.

  2. Braden Bills says:

    My son is going to be getting married, and he wants to make sure that his wedding has some good music. It makes sense that he might want to get a band to play at his wedding! That seems like a good way to provide entertainment for everyone.

  3. Max Jones says:

    Thanks for the info about music at weddings. My brother will be married soon. I’ll tell him to consider getting a band for his wedding reception.

  4. It really helped when you explained how to look for multiple entertainment options before hiring one for our wedding. My fiance and I are excited to start planning our wedding party, and we’d love to hire a music band for our event, so we’ll follow your tips to find one. Thank you for the advice on checking a musician’s past reviews before hiring one.

  5. Several people complimented us on the music last night. I received some criticism for choosing a high-end DJ, but I was totally justified. The music and pacing of the evening greatly pleased the bride. And the lighting was fantastic.

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