No doubt your wedding planning has been full of magical moments. There are also a fair amount of stress-inducing debates to be handled and among the most important is what to do about the music for your wedding ceremony and reception. Do you go with a DJ or should you have a live band? Do you go all out and have both, or have none and just let your karaoke-loving cousin serenade everyone?
You are going to see plenty of opinions about it on the internet (though across the board the karaoke cousin is a hard “nope”), and the debate may rage hot, causing you ever more confusion. Have no fear, we’re swooping in to save you from a relationship-crushing argument and sooth the stress of making the decision by giving you a firm answer. Yes, you should have a live band at your wedding. Here’s why it’s the right decision.
1. It sets the tone and the mood like nothing else
There is no denying that live music brings energy and emotion to a room that even DJs have admitted are beyond compare, whereas listening to canned DJ jams is little different than listening to the radio. If you want your wedding to have a certain feel to it, finding the right musicians can create the perfect atmosphere and truly be the so-to-speak cherry on top of your ceremony or celebration.
Live musicians can change to mood of a room as it is needed. They can bring a grand level of elegance and sophistication to your wedding, especially to the ceremony, cocktail hour, or during dinner. Depending on what you want, they can bring a little energy or a ton of energy to the dance floor at your reception, making even the wallflowery-est of the bunch tap their toes and get moving.
2. It’s an encompassing experience
Why do people go to concerts instead of staying home and listening to the radio in their bathrobes? Performance. People not only love listening to live music but also seeing and feeling it. A band makes music come to life and turns it into an experience for many senses, not just your ears.
Even those that can’t dance (like your Aunt Martha who just celebrated her 100th birthday—you go Aunt Martha!) can enjoy the experience of listening to and watching live musicians. A DJ just does not have the same showmanship or entertainment value as a live band.
3. Live music is a uniting factor
Live music can bridge gaps and unite generations of people. A DJ may play dance music that is currently popular, or a list of typical songs played at every reception across America. You’re always going to have one or more generations that aren’t into what’s being played (“not my jam”, “music in my day was actual music!”, etc.) But live music seems to get everyone past their biases, even if the song is particular to a certain generation. The fun of watching and listening to musicians surpasses all that.
4. Live music is always a unique experience
You are going to get one first dance with your new spouse; do you want it to be exactly the same as thousands of other couples who have listened to the same exact pre-recorded song played in the same exact way for everyone? Or would you rather be able to say that is was something unique played just for the two of you?
Musicians are living, breathing people so there is going to be subtle variations in the way they play their instruments every time they play a song—even if they’ve played it a thousand times. Each band also has its own unique style and flavor that they add to their music. These elements combined make any song that is played totally unique to your wedding.
Songs that a DJ would use have been recorded for posterity and it will always sound exactly the same no matter how many times it is played (it has no autonomy, so it has no choice). It will sound exactly the same to your ears as to every other couple who has played it. With musicians you have an option that you don’t with pre-recorded music—you can ask for variations of style or tempo in the song and a great band will be better able to accommodate that request.
5. It creates a memorable experience for you and your guests
Why are you going through all that trouble of planning your wedding down to the last gorgeous detail if not to make it an incredibly memorable event for you and everyone you love? If you’re fretting about how many leaves you want each baby’s breath stem to contain, you’d want to put even more care into something as big as the music and entertainment for your wedding, wouldn’t you? That’s why having a live band is such a great decision.
Do you remember the name of the DJ who spun at the last wedding you attended? Neither do we. Even though there are some great DJs out there, for the most part, they all start to blend together. Live bands have a memorable uniqueness to each of them. They not only make a great topic for conversation among strangers who are eating dinner at the same table, but it’s also an element that creates special memories to talk about later on.
6. Live musicians have flexibility
As far as being able to make adjustments on the fly, stop and restart without problems, or being able to react in the moment to anything the room throws at them—live musicians have the advantage. For instance, your young ring bearer starts walking down the aisle, freaks out when all eyes are on him and makes a run for it. The last thing you want to be worried about AV problems with stopping and starting the music. A live band can pause and restart exactly where they left off without an issue, and they will be more inclined to spot problems and adjust as soon as they start.
What the critics say and why they got it wrong
There’s not enough variety with live bands: Not true. Yes, it is true that a DJ can download a song you request if they don’t have it (though experience has taught that not all of them will bother doing it even when you ask). Live musicians need a little more lead time to learn a song. But at the same time, professional bands who play many different events have tons of music in their repertoire. In fact, they can often play many different genres of music from classical, to rock, to pop, to Latin, to current dance songs and more. If a particular band can’t produce the sound that you want, just move on to the next one who can.
Live music is too loud, especially for my elegant ceremony: Unless you are planning on hiring the local garage band that has one volume—obnoxious—this is also just not true. Many professional musicians are quite flexible and adept at controlling the volume of their music to meet the mood of the room. Bands who are experienced at playing ceremony or background music know how to avoid overpowering a room, whereas amps set up around the room by a DJ can be grating on those who sit near them.
Bands have to take breaks. Yup, that’s true. They are human and are prone to human needs. But should this be a deal-breaking issue? Bands don’t want to break up the flow of dancing or celebrating anymore than a DJ does. Find a band who has the means and know-how to play some recorded songs (songs you can pick out) during their downtime. That means no real break in dancing and the party can go on.
Live bands are more expensive. Like anything you pay for, it depends. They can be more expensive than some DJs or less expensive than others. If you find a band whose sound you love but their price is out of range for you, the bandleader or manager is likely open to discussing how they can make it an affordable option for you (like reducing the number of musicians that play).
The music is not as good as recorded songs. Wow, the critics were really off base with this one. Now we’ve all heard a favorite musician, singer, or and on the radio, but when we saw them live in concert thought “is this actually the same person? It sounds nothing like what I’ve heard!”. It’s not the same when it comes most professional musicians who play weddings and other events. In fact, many of them have had years of practice with degrees in musical arts. Even the ones without degrees have a passion for what they do and are excited to do what they love for people who appreciate it.
If you’ve listened to audio or video recordings of a band that you are considering but still have doubts, find out if there is a way to get a live sample of their music or speak to others who have heard them in person. In any case, it’s always a good idea to get a well-rounded idea of what any live band can do and how they’ve interacted with their clients and guests.
The band will upstage the bride and groom. Ridiculous. Once the bride starts walking down the aisle no one is thinking, “man, this band is the most gorgeous and amazing thing I’ve seen today!” All attention is on her and the band is just background to lead her down the aisle.
Of course, as mentioned, a band will bring that special, memorable element to the wedding–something that most couples want. The band leaders are not looking to steal the thunder from anyone’s special day and clearly communicating what you want or don’t want beforehand will prevent any unnecessary hiccups or distractions.
Flexible, skilled, and guaranteed to give a one-of-a-kind performance, live bands can add elegance to your affair or rock the party (even doing both in the same evening). You and your guests get the benefit of a private concert, so to speak, and create long lasting memories for everyone in attendance. And that is why hiring a live band for your wedding is the right decision.