Live Band Or DJ? Which Is Right For Your Reception?


Jul 16, 2020

Wedding Planning Tips // Reception Tips // Wedding Photographers in Huntsville, Alabama

Reception at Huntsville Botanical Garden with live band

We get these questions a lot:
Do I want a DJ or a live band for my wedding reception?
Will a band be able to keep the dance floor going?
Will a DJ feel like canned music?
Which is better?

DJ vs Live Band at Your Wedding Reception?

The good news is that either one is a great option! You can’t accidentally pick the wrong one. It really depends on factors like your preferred vibe, budget, available space, and favorite genres.

Breaking Down the DJ Option

There are a lot of great reasons why a DJ might be the right choice for you. Let’s dive into both the advantages and limitations!


DJs have the advantage of creating a seamless, polished music experience. Since they don’t have to take breaks (at least the music doesn’t stop if they do), you have a night full of a smooth musical experience.

They can play any genre you want, mixing and matching in any combination. Taylor Swift will rub shoulders with The Beatles and Stevie Wonder.

Another big advantage is that a good DJ will be able to read the crowd’s energy level and adjust the music to keep things rocking. As our friend Steve Metz at Metropolitan DJ explained to us once, there’s actually a lot of science mixed with art when it comes to making magic on the dance floor.

On the other side, a DJ simply plays other people’s songs. You don’t have the unique character or the excitement of a live performance.


A DJ usually takes significantly less space than a multi-member band. Your venue’s available space may make the decision for you.


It depends on the band and the DJ, of course, but a DJ is usually easier on the budget. You’re paying for one person and his/her equipment, not a band’s worth of people and equipment. It’s also less people to feed, etc.


If you’re concerned about space, budget, or want a wide variety of songs and genres, a DJ is the best choice for you.

The Kirkman Combo live band at backyard wedding reception

Breaking Down the Live Band Option

If you’re looking for something unique for your reception, a live band might be just what you’re looking for. Here are both the advantages and limitations to consider!


One of the biggest advantages of a live band is the coolness factor of a live performance. You’re literally treating your guests to a private performance, whether they prefer the dance floor or the comfort of their seats.

Bands typically work best with genres like big band or Motown. They can put so much heart and soul into it, and live instruments are amazing. It’s a high energy performance! Bands will put personality into familiar songs – unique but not the original version you know and love.

Because live performers need breaks, you’ll have some kind of interruption. Most bands will have a canned playlist of some sort to play during their breaks, but it does disrupt the flow to a certain extent. You’ll also need to find out whether band members require to be feed during their time there so you can add to your catering count.


Live bands take up a lot of space. Multiple members plus multiple instruments plus all the equipment equals a large stage. You’ll also have to consider things like a break room for the band during their multiple breaks throughout the night, as well as a place to stash their instrument cases, etc.


Live bands are usually going to be more expensive. There are more people to pay, plus the cost of meals (if required). Band prices can vary a lot based on the number of musicians and level of experience.


Bands create an amazing live performance experience for your guests. It’s something your guests will remember! If you have a flexible entertainment budget, lots of space, and don’t mind a single genre, a band could be the best choice for your celebration.

DJ vs Band Quiz, Compliments of has a great little quiz that helps you make the DJ vs Band Decision. If you’re still caught in between the options, check it out!

Regardless of whether you choose a DJ or a live band, it will be a celebration to remember!

Did you have a DJ or a live band for your wedding? Or maybe you attended a wedding that had a standout! Tell us your DJ or band stories in the comments below!


P.S. Curious to know 3 surprising things that are keeping your guests off the dance floor? Look no further! You can find out here!

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  1. It’s cool that you point out that having a live band at your wedding can create a memorable experience for your guests. I want to make sure that the guests at my upcoming wedding reception have an amazing time, so I’m considering hiring a live band for it. I’m going to look for a good wedding band in the area that I can hire.

    • Joel and Amber says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Both bands and DJs can do an absolutely amazing job, so it’s just a matter of deciding which one is right for you. I hope you find an amazing local band for your celebration! :)

  2. Thank you for pointing out that hiring a live band for your wedding can help make your reception unique. I want my wedding reception to be a unique and memorable experience, so I’m considering hiring a band for it. I’m going to look for a good band in my area that does wedding receptions.

  3. Interesting point. Hiring a DJ is definitely cheaper than a band as you are only paying for one person and their equipment. But I heard that there is a one-person wedding band which is also a cheaper alternative. What are your thoughts on this?

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