Our talented DJ Ali is guest blogging for us this week. Enjoy his views on DJ vs Band below!

The average wedding in the UK over the last two years costs £17,576. An almighty sum that arguably could have been higher if we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic at the time. Slimmed down weddings were SO 2020 darling, and now we’re pretty much back to full swing, couples must decide how to allocate their hard earned cash for their big day.

Venue, catering, flowers, accommodation, booze. All these necessities cost a huge amount of money, especially as the word compromise is often voided from vocabulary for such a special day. Even with a generous budget, the money is often eaten up so rapidly that couples over-look (or at least leave till last) what to do for entertainment. By then the budget is seriously low, and most of the best acts were booked up months ago. Selecting a DJ or Band for your wedding is integral to a memorable night, but a common mistake couples make is to think they can secure a decent booking just a couple of weeks before the date. If you are taking your entertainment selection seriously then I would advise attempting to book your desired act as soon as you’ve set a date. I’ve had enquiries up to 3 years in advance, and it’s the easiest way to avoid disappointment, and settling for something sub-par.

The main decision to make when selecting music for the evening is whether you want a live band or DJ. Both have positives and drawbacks. The energy of live music is hard to reciprocate from just a DJ, and a good frontman can command a room and have guests eating out the palm of their hand. However, this is all down to the actual band you choose. There is an ocean of average-wedding bands out there, and finding a decent one can feel like navigating a minefield of mediocrity. That’s where agencies like House Of Lemon come in to help. Legit agencies hand-pick their acts and their quality of musicians and DJ’s are taken very seriously. That’s why it’s important to speak to an agency, explain the vibe you’re looking for for your wedding, and make sure you hear/see the band playing before you make your choice. If there’s no promotional footage or recordings of the band, then that should set alarm bells ringing. 

Now you’ve found your dream band, here are the downsides of going live over DJ. Firstly even if the band is incredible, the breadth and depth of songs they can play is limited to what they have actually learned! Very little versatility is at hand, no matter how good a musician they are, no one wants to hear an unrehearsed attempt at Purple Rain. Well, maybe gran does. Even if they are fantastic musicians, the songs they cover are never going to be as good as the original artist’s version, which a DJ has at their fingertips. Also there is the cost to consider. If you have your heart set on a 12 piece brass band from Bulgaria (World-renowned for their brass sections) then that’s a lot of mouths to feed, and a lot of equipment to transport and a lot of accommodation required. This is inevitably going to increase your total cost by a considerable amount, compared to just one DJ. So if you have deep pockets and are ok with the restraints of song selection a band is the way to go! 

Live music for weddings

The best bands I’ve experienced are the ones that don’t do covers at all, but just execute what felt like a polished jam session, just a bunch of talented musicians rocking out on stage. Twice I have experienced this, one was a band who were like (dare I say) Mumford and Sons (who I personally am not a fan of) but they had great hair and great talent. They just jammed on stage for a couple of hours, and I’d never seen a crowd so energised by music with no lyrics that they had never heard before. SO much better than “Dave and the Growlers” murdering Get Lucky or the lastest tribute act (such as FABBA, NOasis and Blobbie Williams) playing second rate versions of epic songs. The second time I got swept up in a band was a traditional Irish group armed with fiddles, spoons and a whole rhythm section. Again no lyrics or famous songs, just a bunch of talented musicians jigging about on stage, doing their thing, and getting the whole place rocking!

If you are opting for a DJ instead (no, your second cousin who once did that all vinyl garage set at a rave under a car park does not count as a wedding DJ) then there are a few things to consider. I have already touched on a few of the ups and downs of having a DJ at your wedding, including; Cost – paying just one person to come play over a whole band will obviously be a cheaper option. Even though high-end function DJ’s will still be expensive, it’s nothing compared to a decent function band. This will allow you to up the quality whilst keeping costs reasonable. However you will still be navigating the tricky waters of averageness, and it’s important to find the DJ right for you, and shopping about a bit here is key. Speak to multiple agencies and directly to the DJ if you can. DJ’s are a special breed, delicate, sensitive and very often ego-driven, you may find yourself negotiating what you want played at your own wedding! Personally I try and let the client know that I can have as much or as little input as they desire. If they like my stuff and just want me to do my thing, cool, I’ll smash it. Or if they want to be more militant about what’s played and ultimately dictate the playlist to me then cool no worries I’ll get my head down and bash out some Chumbawamba. Again not all DJ’s are as laid back as me but regardless of the DJ’s fragility it highlights my point if you do go down the DJ route, then you have a lot more control over what’s played, as well as many more genres at hand that what can be offered by a function band. So if you are a true music-head then a DJ can offer so much more versatility than a live band. 

Whichever option you go with just make sure you pick QUALITY musicians. In this case more often than you not you really do get what you pay for, and skimping in the music department can risk an empty dancefloor all night long.


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