Wedding Bands Versus Wedding DJs

October 01, 2013

Copyright Julia Boggio


We’re still basking in the warm, fuzzy glow of the Make Their Day wedding at One Marylebone last week, particularly the fantastic entertainment that we provided and then stood around patting ourselves on the backs so hard that more than one of us burped heartily. Ayre Flutes, The Watling Street Band, Le Gateau Chocolat and Mad Hen were all warmly received by guests and made the hours of arguing over the entertainment choices almost seem worth it.

We’re not the only ones who’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed over choosing the right wedding acts; many couples are torn between different wedding entertainment options, particularly the choice between live band and DJ. In truth, there’s really no right answer to this and the choice comes down to a couple’s personal preferences and what they think will go down best with their guests. All the same, we’ve put together a little chart to help you choose between the two – take a look below and let us know what you think in the comments.



Live Band






No Matter how good a DJ is, no one can ever quite recreate the feel of live music. A great function band can electrify an audience in a way that’s even the most charismatic DJ will struggle to match.

While a band offers some degree of versatility in their music choices, with a vast selection of tunes to pick from a DJ can switch up the mood for different parts of the evening transitioning smoothly  from background music to floor filling hits.


Performance Time

Bands will usually perform 2 or 3 x 45 minute sets over the course of a few hours with a couple of breaks in between.

Generally a DJ will be on hand for up to 5 hours. If they do require a break, most DJs are happy to keep music playing.



Bands are always happy to do requests provided they’re given time to arrange and learn new songs. They may ask for extra money depending on how long a song will take to learn and rehearse but hearing a live version of a song that’s meaningful is always worth the extra time and effort.

DJs too are happy to take requests in the lead up to the wedding and often on the night too. With decades of tunes to pick from, a wedding DJ can usually accommodate all tastes 


Staging Requirements/Space

The space a band needs depends on the size of the ensemble. We usually recommend around 1 square meter per person. But it’s also important to bear in mind equipment such as PA, amps, mixing desks etc.

DJs naturally take up less space than bands but normally require a fair amount of equipment. It’s worth checking whether a DJ can provide their own booth and what sort of space they’d require to set up.


Sound Levels & Dynamics

Given the chance, a function band can get pretty darn loud, but that’s not to say that they can’t rein it in when the occasion calls for it. If a venue has a sound limit in place, or if you’d just rather keep things relatively hushed, a band can keep a lid on their noise levels.


The big draw is the range that a band can offer as far as dynamic go – able to build up/drop down 

With a twirl of a volume dial (and or flick of s slider) a DJ can keep on top of volume levels with ease. Similarly, a DJ is able to raise the roof – volume wise – where necessary.


Of course, a DJ is only as good as the records they play and as such have less control over the dynamic of their set in comparison to a band.



Bands are often able to provide basic lighting for the stage and performers. You may want to consider additional lights for both the stage and the dance floor to create the full effect of a live performance.

Many DJs are able to provide their own basic lighting for the dance floor, it’s worth asking what sort of lights your DJ has and discussing the possibility of bringing in additional lights for larger venues.



A band gives a couple a great opportunity to inject their wedding with their own style. By choosing a band that represents your relationship and tastes, you can make the reception a far more personal and intimate affair. A band might put a vintage spin on modern tunes, or update older numbers for a new generation.

With the rise of streaming and downloading music services, it’s easier than ever to create playlists and curate the sound track to your own life. Similarly, a DJ can help you express your own tastes through careful song choices at a wedding. At the end of the day though, they’re still playing other people’s records.


Stage Presence

Function bands are often defined by the charisma of their frontmen and women – but in a truly great function band, you can end up transfixed by every single member. When a band is on top form, their energy is infectious and even the most reticent of wedding guests will find themselves magnetically drawn to the dance floor.

A good DJ is charismatic and an engaging presence on the decks, but is never going to outshine the couple. There are plenty of DJs who make a selling point of their big personalities, but generally – if you want your wedding to be all about you, a DJ is a good option.


You can see pictures from the wedding by the wonderful Julia Boggio over on Make Their Day, so if you haven't already be sure to check them out. 

For more  info on booking a band or hiring a DJ for your wedding or civil ceremony, head over to our contact page and get in touch.