Things you should know: Bands vs. Djs

I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOVE to dance. I am that person that doesn't need a drop of liquid courage to get out and be the first one breaking it down on the dance floor. Am I a great dancer? Nope. But I love to just have FUN. The Band or DJ is a really important part of the party atmosphere you are creating when you celebrate your new commitment. There is a difference between hiring a band or DJ for the event. Below are the key things to consider:

photo by  Cameron Ingalls


Bands are super appealing because they brig a great level of energy and it feels like a different type of experience. A really great band will be a lasting memory, and can be really fun. This is a wonderful option for those who enjoy live music, seeing concerts together, finding new bands, etc. There are a few things you should know about hiring a band though, things I have learned from my experiences with them. 

They cost a lot more. A LOT more. Bands in the Bay Area that are most popular typically start between $8K to $10k and go up from there. I have even seen some bands that charge in the $35K range! If you find a great band for less, AWESOME, but that starting $10K or so is what I would put in an expected budget to start the process.

You should also consider the extras that come with a band. You need to typically pay for 7 band members plus a sound engineer (sometimes), adding up your vendor meals rather quickly. They also need to eat before they perform, so it is very important to make sure the catering team knows to have 8-10 plates prepared for the band, and they are served DURING guest dinner, not after. They might also have a rider - sometimes this includes alcohol (which I always refuse them - sorry guys, you are working!) almost always includes water, and sometimes mirrors or rags for sweat. Their contracts almost always include a green room of some kind, sometimes with a private bathroom, so make sure you talk with your venue coordinator about where they have done it in the past or how they could provide this for them otherwise.

photo by  Rachelle Derouin

When you hire a band, consider that they typically don't include ceremony, cocktail hour, or dinner sound. If you would like them to provide this, make sure you let them know in advance so they can quote you accordingly in the proposal. The band you hire may have lighting included, they might not. Ask! I would say more often than not they are OK making small general announcements in between songs like, "The 9:00pm shuttle is leaving in 10 minutes!" or "LAST CALL AT THE BAR" but they are not always comfortable doing that. 

They need breaks. Every 45 minutes they need a 10 to 15 minute break. Some bands will play 60 minute sets, but again, it depends on the band.   

With song selections, you may be limited to the songs they have rehearsed already if you don't get them your main dance songs soon enough.

With bands or Djs you might want them to be on a raised stage so consider adding money to you budget for that, should that be the case. Also make sure you know the dimensions the band prefers for the stage size before adding it to your rental order.

YO DJ, turn it up!!

I mean, I won't lie to you... I love a great DJ. They are very used to doing the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing sound so most packages are inclusive of that. In general, they tend to be more flexible and easy to work with from my perspective. If you have a venue where each of the main events (ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing) are happening in different spaces, you may need additional speaker set ups (which will be an extra charge) but best to consult with the DJ company and venue coordinator first if you aren't sure. A standard decent DJ will run about $1700 and when you get to the high end DJs they can run $2500 to $5000 easily.  *Note these prices reflect bands and Djs I have had experience working with in California, your market may have different prices!