You’ve uttered your vows. Your wedding party nailed their speeches. You’ve even cut the cake. Now, on this most momentous occasion, there’s but one thing left to do. You guessed it. It’s time to get the party started.
Making sure your wedding day is one for the history books all comes down to preparation. Put simply, hiring the right entertainer for the event is a top priority. Get it right and you can be sure your guests have a night they will never forget. Get it wrong and, well, we don’t need to think about that. If you’re not sure where to start, let’s look at how to find your band or DJ for your wedding day.
How to Choose Between a Band or DJ
From the first moment you start planning your wedding, you’re going to have to make some pretty tough decisions. Who will be your bridesmaids? What dress will you wear? What about flower arrangements? And, of course, should you hire a DJ or a live band? It’s enough to stump you. If you haven’t a clue what type of entertainment will suit your big day, there are a couple of important factors to think about.
“Your venue is something that you should really consider,” wedding DJ Tommy Elliott tells Brides. “If you have a small venue, is a five-to-seven piece band really going to be a suitable choice of entertainment? Maybe a smaller band, a two-to-three piece, will suit your venue if space is tight. A DJ can set up in a small space so [that] may be the more flexible option depending on your venue and location.”
Meet the Expert
Tommy Elliott is an award-winning wedding DJ based in Ireland.
However, the size of your venue isn't everything. When you’re choosing between a live band and a DJ, you should also consider the cost of these entertainers. Understanding what’s within your budget may help you to whittle down your search and find the perfect option for you.
“What budget you have to spend on your entertainment will also be a key factor in choosing between a band or DJ,” he continues. “When setting out your budget consider that a band has multiple members and will obviously cost more than a DJ who is a sole operator.” Needless to say, once you start looking at wedding entertainers, it’s worth getting a selection of quotes from both bands and DJs to see which suits your personal finances.
If you have a large budget for your wedding, why not get both a DJ and a live band? It’s the ideal combo. You can schedule the band to play the first set of tunes at the reception and then have a DJ take over to spin the figurative discs until the early hours of the morning.
How to Find a Band or DJ
Now that you have a clear idea of what you want, it’s time you started your search. To help you make the right decision, you may want to talk to your wedding planner. “Link in with the wedding coordinator at your venue or your wedding planner,” advises Elliott. “They will have a list of trusted suppliers they have worked with in the past and this can be a great starting point to finding the right option.”
If you’re flying solo and planning the event yourself, you can ask your family and friends for recommendations or run a quick Google search. Alternatively, why not dive into your social feeds? “Using social media can be a useful way of browsing through various styles of bands or DJs. You can search hashtags like #weddingband, #weddingdj, or #weddingentertainment to find options which may be the right fit for you,” says Elliott.
Before you hire your chosen entertainers, unleash your inner Sherlock Holmes and do some real digging. “Would I recommend booking a band or DJ based on just their social media? No,” says Elliott. “Always do your research and make contact with possible entertainers to get a feel if they are the right match for what you are looking for.”
How to Budget for a Band or DJ
Now comes the hard part. How much should you spend on wedding entertainers? Sadly, there’s not a single answer to this burning question. However, while the cost of entertainers could vary vastly, there’s an easy equation you can do that will help you budget well for this part of your wedding.
“As with all areas of your wedding, your overall wedding budget will determine how much you can set aside for the entertainment part of your day,” says Elliott. “Of course, it’s a personal choice. As a rough guide, 10 to 15 percent of your overall budget should go on your entertainment.”
Understanding how much you can afford to spend on your entertainment will give you a clear understanding of the professionals you can feasibly hire.
Ready to lock down your favorite wedding band or DJ? Now that you’re all clued-up, let’s go over some final tips to get things moving. If you want to make sure your reception is the talk of the town, follow this advice:
Start looking sooner not later.
“I know it's cliché but it's never too early to book your band or DJ once you have found the one that’s right for your day,” explains Elliott. “If they’re popular or in high demand they will usually book out quickly especially for key dates like bank holidays or New Year's Eve. A good guide would be 12 to 18 months out from your date. Don’t leave it any later or you risk being disappointed!”
Consider your reception vibe.
Ensuring your entertainment matches the atmosphere is vital. “What sort of vibe are you looking for at your reception?” asks Elliott. “You may be considering a traditional black-tie for your day with a big brass band, or a more modern festival vibe with a DJ playing into the small hours!”
Put your music requests in early.
Got a special tune that gets you moving? Speak up before your wedding day comes around. “If there are a few songs that you would like included on the night then most bands or DJs would happily accommodate this request from any couple,” says Elliott. “Equally there may be songs you definitely don’t want to hear on the night and it's important to make your band or DJ aware of these prior.”
Make sure their personality works for you.
Great entertainers do more than play music—they curate an atmosphere. “One thing I would recommend, whether you choose a band or DJ, is to make sure they have the right personality and are able to engage with you and your guests,” says Elliott. “They need to be able to adapt their set to anything that may happen on the night to ensure a full dance floor with a great party vibe.”