wedding band vs DJ cost

Wedding Band vs DJ – How Much Will It Cost


Getting engaged is exciting, and planning a wedding can keep you pretty busy.

As you begin to think about your wedding reception & party, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether to hire a wedding band or DJ. Both can provide excellent entertainment for your guests, but determining which will be a better fit often comes down to two factors: the overall vibe and mood of your wedding, and the cost of a wedding band vs DJ.

In this article, we will break down the average wedding band cost vs. the average wedding DJ cost in 2022 to help you decide which option is right for you and your partner.

Live Wedding Band Cost

live wedding band cost

The average wedding band cost to perform live music during your party is around $15,000. Pricing for a wedding band will depend on several factors… 

Where Are You Having Your Wedding? 

If your wedding is in a large city such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago, the cost to hire a wedding band is significantly higher. The larger the city, the more you will pay for wedding musicians (and most other entertainment costs in general, wedding-related or not)!

When Are You Having Your Wedding?

Peak wedding season occurs during summer and early fall, so you can typically expect to pay more for your wedding music during this time of year (specifically May-October because demand is so high). If you hold your wedding day outside of this span of months you will likely spend less on live wedding bands.

Weekends are also usually much more expensive than weekdays. Saturday is generally the most expensive day for wedding reception entertainment, followed by Friday and Sunday. Weekdays provide a more affordable option for hiring a live band.

Don’t forget that it will probably cost extra for a live band to perform during your cocktail hour or rehearsal dinner. If you plan on having a performance during that time, be sure to adjust your wedding budget to accommodate.

Band Members and Requests

band members and requests

Larger bands typically cost more than small bands, and you should also keep an eye out for production costs. Visual effects, sound production, lighting, and other services provided by live bands can add to the cost. 

A wedding band might also request additional accommodations such as lodging, travel, dressing rooms, and food that cause their starting fee to increase.

Live Band Cost Recap

While costs might start at around $12,500, you can expect that number to increase significantly depending on the date, size of your band, location, and any specific requests. 

If you’re planning to splurge on live music, you can expect to spend upwards of $25,000. Whether you want to hire a big band, a full jazz band or a string quartet of talented musicians, investing in a live wedding band is a great choice for your wedding entertainment.

Pros of Wedding Bands

As you think about your budget for hiring a wedding band, you should also weigh the pros and cons of having a wedding band or cover band perform at your wedding. Some of the pros of a wedding band include:

  • A classy, sophisticated feel to your wedding
  • The excitement and energy of enjoying live music
  • Unique music with a personal spin from the band instead of generic wedding songs
  • More engagement with the crowd
  • You can choose a band whose sound you love
  • Wedding guests who do not enjoy dancing may still enjoy listening to live reception music
  • Wedding bands can adjust the tempo of the music to suit the vibe and atmosphere of your wedding

Cons of Wedding Bands

While they’re a fantastic choice, wedding bands do come with a few cons.

  • Live bands are typically more expensive than wedding DJs
  • Wedding bands won’t be able to play every song requested
  • Most bands will not be able to mimic electronic or dance music if you are going for more of a club or party vibe
  • A live band takes up more space in your reception area
  • You won’t have as much variety in your music with a wedding band
  • Wedding bands need to take breaks throughout the night while a DJ can keep the party going

Types of Wedding Bands

types of wedding bands

You have a wide variety of options when it comes to hiring a band. Most wedding bands know a few songs across a variety of genres, but specialize in one particular genre or sound. A few popular choices include.

  • Jazz band
  • Cover band
  • Acoustic
  • Country
  • Classical
  • Blues
  • Alternative/Indie
  • Folk
  • Rock

Choosing your band’s sound should depend on the type of wedding you want to have. 

Is your wedding an elegant sit-down? A classical or string band would be a perfect fit. Looking for standout instrument solos? A rock or alternative band is a great choice. 

Talk to your partner to figure out what kind of reception you want to have and how your wedding band fits into your vision.

Who Should Hire a Live Wedding Band?

If you and your partner have the following goals, you are better off hiring a wedding band than a DJ.

  • You’re willing to spend more money on your wedding music
  • You enjoy live music and attending concerts
  • You are okay with your wedding music having a similar sound during your wedding reception
  • You want more of a classy and sophisticated vibe for your wedding
  • You don’t want your wedding dance floor to feel like a club or rave
  • Your wedding ceremony will feel more like an intimate dinner party

Not sure how to go about finding the perfect wedding band for you? We at LIV Entertainment can help you choose an option that suits your style, budget, and needs. 

What To Do After Hiring a Wedding Band

Once you decide to hire a wedding band, there are certain steps you should take to make sure your wedding day is perfect. This will make all the difference in your guests’ enjoyment of the wedding.

Confirm Actual Performance Time

How long do you want the band to play during your reception? Do you want them to play during the cocktail hour as well? This is an important step to discuss with the band so you can budget for it and present the timeline to the venue ahead of time.

Examine Your Venue Space

Determine where in your venue the band will play to decide if there is enough room. Remember, there needs to be space for all of their equipment and instruments as well as space for your guests to dance.

Determine a Contact Person

Whether you work with a music agency or someone from the band, establish a contact point from the start to make communication easy.

Present a Playlist

If your wedding band is experienced, they probably already have a good idea of what songs you should and shouldn’t play at a wedding. However, if you have specific songs you want to hear (or not hear,) be sure to let them know ahead of time.

Wedding DJs Cost

wedding DJs cost

The average professional wedding DJ cost is around $7,000. That price can vary depending on the experience level of the DJ. Professional equipment for DJ’s isn’t cheap!

You can generally find a lower-range wedding DJ for less than $500, but if you want to invest in a highly-rated, expert DJ, the cost could be closer to $10,000.

The extras included in the cost of your wedding DJ depend on their services. They may be able to provide lighting, speakers, microphones, headphones, projectors, and even photo booths or karaoke. If you’re interested in any of these fun extras for your wedding guests, be sure to inquire about them with your DJ.

Some of the equipment and extras listed above may be available for an additional cost, so if you have your heart set on a fun-filled dance floor, be sure to budget for the extras.

Pros of Wedding DJs

pros of wedding DJs

So, what makes a wedding DJ a good choice? 

  • You can play all of your favorite songs exactly how you like them
  • Hiring a wedding DJ pro is much cheaper than hiring a live wedding band pro, so it’s a great way to save money
  • Your wedding DJ can play pre-recorded songs and recorded music
  • Your wedding will feel like a fun club or lively party
  • DJ services often include extras like karaoke, photo booths, and flashing lights
  • You will have a lively reception with a more informal overall feel
  • They can keep the party going with an after party
  • Your venue space will be filled with colorful lights
  • You’ll have access to top technology and equipment
  • They can help you make announcements throughout your ceremony
  • They can adjust their reception entertainment sets to match the mood of your guests
  • You have many options for music genre and can change it up throughout the evening
  • You can write down a list of must-play songs

Cons of Wedding DJs

While Wedding DJ’s undoubtedly offer plenty of ways to keep your wedding party lively, there are a few cons you should think about before locking in your choice. 

  • A wedding DJ can be less visually entertaining than a live band for guests who don’t enjoy dancing
  • A DJ is generally considered less elegant than a live band
  • An inexperienced DJ ruin the night
  • A DJ can feel less unique or special than a band

Who Should Select a Wedding DJ?

If you and your partner relate to the following, you are better off hiring a DJ than a wedding band.

  • You want to play the music that provides a party vibe for your wedding reception
  • Your wedding style is fun and upbeat
  • You prioritize getting down on the dance floor with your family and friends
  • You want bright, colorful lights as part of your reception entertainment
  • You agree it will be helpful for the DJ to bring their equipment
  • You don’t have the budget for a wedding band
  • Having a DJ will be helpful for announcements throughout the reception
  • You have many guests who enjoy dancing

What To Do After Hiring a DJ

Everyone has different music tastes, and to best prepare your DJ, you need to make sure he or she knows what kind of music and vibe you’re looking for. Although DJ’s are experienced in reading a crowd and adjusting music accordingly, they aren’t mind-readers, so it’s your job to let them know what you like! 

Make sure your DJ has a list of songs you want to hear, as well as songs that are off-limits. Nothing is more awkward as a DJ than playing a song the couple loathes, but if you don’t identify that song you hate or that genre you don’t want played, then it won’t be the DJ’s fault.

You should also give them a schedule of the evening if they are making announcements and guidelines for giving these announcements. Again, the more guidance you provide, the better! 

Taking these steps will help ensure your big day runs smoothly and that you and your DJ are on the same page. 

Wedding Band or DJ?

Keep these factors in mind as you decide on a band or DJ. You can also consult with your wedding planner, wedding vendors, and others assisting in the wedding planning process to hear their thoughts. 

Ultimately, it’s your big day. Select the option you think you will enjoy the most and that best matches your wedding style while keeping your budget in mind. If you are set on a band, spending the extra money will be well worth it. If you want a party atmosphere, you should save money and hire a DJ instead.

No matter what you pick as your music, your guests will have a blast at your reception!

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