“Should I Get a Band or DJ for My Wedding Reception?” is a question I get from almost every couple I work with. Having photographed more than 500 weddings in Arkansas and the country, I have been to some really incredible wedding receptions. I’ve also been to receptions where the guests sat and stared the majority of the time. One of the main catalysts to a great reception is the entertainment.
So, should wedding couples get a band or a DJ? I actually think this is the wrong question. You see, I’ve watched bands bomb (and even offend the bride) and I’ve seen bands elevate a reception. Also, I’ve seen a DJ be cringe-worthy and I’ve seen a DJ read a disenterested crowd and get them involved. So, the right question is how do I know if I have a great band or DJ, or one that misses the mark?
The way to figure this out is actually obvious: meet with them. Over the course of the hour or so during the first meeting, do they seem cringy? Confident and cool? Desparate or trying too hard? Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. Do they listen to you? Can they read your body language and adjust accordingly? These are really strong skills for your wedding entertainment to have.
The second way is as common sense as the first: watch them perform. Don’t go to their website and watch their reel: that is a best-case scenario. Instead, ask when they are performing next and sit in if possible. I like this way of determining if a band or DJ is good FAR MORE than reading reviews or asking a friend’s recommendation.
A great band or DJ will leave you feeling great about yourself, and wanting to spend more time in their presence. Do you feel that way when you’re talking with them or watching them perform? If so, you might have just found your wedding entertainment.
Oh, and a side note: if you find a great DJ AND a great band, there are no rules that say you can’t have both! I’ve shot weddings that started with a band and ended with a DJ. And vice versa. Some weddings even hire a band, but also a DJ to play during the band’s breaks between sets. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going for a memorable party!
Talk to you soon,