To help get your planning back in tune, here are the upsides and downsides to the three most popular choices.
There aren’t many opportunities in life to have live musicians performing just for you, says WeddingChannel.com editor Amy Eisinger. “With a band you’re really giving your guests a great show, and your reception will likely feel higher-end.” Bands are also typically experts at whatever style of music they specialize in, notes Eisinger.
On the downside, good bands are the most expensive way to go. According to TheKnot.com’s last annual Real Weddings Survey, the average cost for a band in 2009 was $3,000, and fees can vary widely depending on the city you live in, how long the band plays, and the number of musicians.
In addition, most bands are limited to a particular genre and may charge extra if they have to learn a new song, adds Valarie Kirkbride, owner of Cleveland-based Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & Design. “I also find that a lot of bands don’t do as well with the wedding announcements.”
Most experienced wedding DJs are excellent emcees and can handle all the important announcements, as well as the timing of events, says Kirkbride.
As for the music itself, brides and grooms can provide the DJ with a playlist (and do-not-play list) to increase the chances that they will only hear their favorite songs across a wide range of genres all night long, says Eisinger. Couples also can instruct the DJ to accept or not accept guest requests, and the DJ can handle any equipment issues that may develop.
Finally, DJs are significantly cheaper than bands – they averaged $892 for a night’s work in 2009, according to TheKnot.com.
On the flip side, a DJ generally won’t have the unique impact that a band does, says Kirkbride, and it’s impossible to guarantee that he or she won’t start playing music that you didn’t approve. The result may be an empty dance floor or guests who actually leave to escape the terrible music.
Filling an iPod with your favorite music is a way to ensure you only hear the tunes you want to hear, and it’s by far the cheapest option if your venue already has sound equipment, says Eisinger. It can work well at smaller, more casual weddings, especially if the couple makes DJing themselves part of the festivities.
But if your venue doesn’t have a nice sound system available, you may have to shell out major bucks to rent one or buy your own.
“And it isn’t just press Play and go,” says Eisinger. You’ll have to designate someone to start and stop songs for particular events and adjust the volume if, for example, a speech is taking place. An iPod also can’t read the crowd, which means you may end up with an empty dance floor if your song selections are falling flat.
Add to that the possibility of technical difficulties, warns Kirkbride. Who wants to be stuck fiddling with equipment when they should be cutting a rug?
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