• Amy Katz

Wedding Band or DJ: Which is the Best Music Option for Your Wedding Day?


Band: Jenna Wynne Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Sheri LaMagna for Brett Matthews Gallery


You’ve been dreaming of your wedding day for years and years, but for many brides and grooms one of the details of that wedding vision tends to be a little bit fuzzy. Any guess what that detail is? One of the single most popular questions we get as wedding planners is, “Should I hire a wedding DJ or a wedding band for my big day?”. Did you guess right!? If you’re a couple planning your big day, you’ve likely had this conversation at least a time or two, and honestly there is no right or wrong answer. At the end of the day your choice between DJ or band comes down to personal preference, the vibe you’re searching for on your big day, and oftentimes your budget.


But at AKE we like to get a little creative, so our response to this question is… why choose? There are so many fun and creative ways to incorporate both a DJ and live music on your wedding day, so you can have the best of both worlds!


Before we explore how you can elevate your wedding day with mixed music options, let’s first take a look at some things you will want to consider when making your pro and con list for your wedding day music decisions, shall we?

Band: Dylan Matthews Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Danny Weiss Studio


Wedding Band vs. DJ – What to Consider


When considering whether you want a wedding DJ or wedding band, there are a few major things you’ll want to consider, let’s break them down simply so you can start thinking about how each of these fits your vision and goals for your big day.


Desired Ambiance or Vibe

The music sets the stage for your event, both literally and figuratively. Paired with your design and your venue, the music adds to the ambiance–whether you want that to be a calming romantic vibe or a club-style party vibe–your music will help you achieve these in different ways. A band can sometimes be seen as a concert for those guests who don’t like to get out on the dance floor, but a band can also read the crowd and change up their performance style–the best wedding bands have the ability to get even your most stiff guests shaking a leg!


Style of Music You Love

If you’re obsessed with EDM or rap music and you’re looking for lots of brand new mainstream songs, then you may want to consider a DJ as they can download whatever song your heart desires off of the internet. Bands can perform mainstream and classic favorites and the bands the AKE team works with are super talented and can learn just about anything. But regardless of talent, those unique styles of music like EDM or rap are a little bit tricker for a live band. Never say never, just something to consider!

Band: Harris Lane Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Ira Lippke for The Day Collective


Event Logistics

If your wedding has a sprawling ballroom floor with plenty of space for added entertainment, you’ll be fine with a band or DJ. But if you’re in an intimate space, you may have a few more restrictions, as bands are very setup intensive in terms of space for a stage, added audio visual needs, etc.


Wedding Music Budget

At the end of the day, your choice for your wedding day music may come down to your budget. A DJ is typically a more cost-effective choice, whereas a talented 20-piece band can be a little bit more of an investment – but if it’s what you’ve dreamed of it is worth every single penny!

These are just a few of the considerations but they are the most crucial when it comes to deciding which style of music is best for your big day, or parts of your big day. That leads us to a little inspiration!


Wedding Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Music Inspiration


Did you know that your wedding day music begins before the ceremony? It isn’t limited to the reception which many couples don’t think about! Your wedding music should start before the ceremony begins so that your guests are welcomed by soothing sounds that set the tone for your ceremony, whether that be romantic and slow or vibrant and upbeat – it’s totally up to you!

Band: Aaron Teitelbaum Orchestra

Photographer: Sheri LaMagna for Brett Matthews Gallery


If you’re getting married in a church, synagogue, or other place of worship, they may have an organ or a set style of music that they use however, there are also fun ways to mix it up. One of our favorite ways to infuse live music into a wedding day is with a band, a trio or quartet, made up of keys, strings, guitar, or harp, and sometimes even a vocalist for the ceremony. It’s so dreamy and memorable!

Band: Jenna Wynne Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Sheri LaMagna for Brett Matthews Gallery


Then, after the ceremony, when guests arrive at cocktail hour greet them with a flamenco guitarist strumming exotic tunes or a smooth jazz trio or a strolling violinist that will sprinkle melodies throughout the space. People are going to be chatting and catching up, so you want something in the background that will sound lovely, but not be too overbearing on conversations.

Band: Irie Irie for Tropics Entertainment

Photographer: Anna Eli Photography


Alternatively, you can also hire a DJ to play music for both your ceremony and cocktail hour, whatever your preference is. Remember, your day, your decision!


Wedding Reception Music Inspiration


Now that you’re officially married, it’s party time! Many couples want people up and dancing during the reception, and while both a band and a DJ can get your people out of their seats, it’s simply different styles. Our reception bands typically range from 8-20 pieces, which can create huge impact and really make a statement – it’s so fun when the couple can hop up on stage with the band at the end of the night and strike a chord! On the other hand, a DJ can have you come up and spin some tunes for a truly unique evening, too. Different styles, same incredible evening with memories made.

Band: Harris Lane Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Ira Lippke for The Day Collective


One thing you will want to consider first though is dinner music. You want people to sit and be serenaded as they’re enjoying their meals and catching up with loved ones and friends. Ask your DJ if they have a dinnertime playlist filled with favorites like Sinatra or ask your band if they have favorite songs for mealtime. But this is one place where you can have a little musical fun too.

Band: Bobby Attiko Band for Hank Lane Music

Photographer: Denise Wine Photography

DJ: DJ Phil Karatzia

DJ: DJ Kristaval

Photographer: Danny Weiss Studio


You can hire a jazz band to play dinner hour and then move on to a DJ to close the night on the dance floor! Another option we love is hiring a DJ that comes with live pieces to accompany them, like a sax player, percussionist, or an electric guitar, so you can have the best of both worlds and the live musicians can play dinner.

DJ: DJ Jason Fioto for Generation Events

Photographer: Rebecca Weiss Photo

DJ: DJ Jason Fioto for Generation Events

Photographer: Rebecca Weiss Photo

DJ: DJ Jason Fioto for Generation Events

Photographer: Rebecca Weiss Photo


After the reception you can also consider hosting an after-party for even more variety. This way you can hire a DJ to close the night out with top hits at the after party (and maybe even change your dress, too for extra wow factor), but have a band take the stage at the reception. You won’t miss a beat and can have the best of both worlds on your wedding night!


There are so many options! Which do you envision for your big day?


Need Expert Advice to Decide on Your Wedding Music?


Amy Katz and her team have planned and executed thousands of weddings of every style, they’re the experts in suggesting which style of music is perfect for every single moment of your wedding day. Let’s chat so we can hear what sweet sounds you’re envisioning for your big day. Then, our team will help you dream up a mélange of wedding day music options perfectly suited for your wedding style and personalities!

DJ: DJ Kristaval

Amy Katz