Live band, DJ or iPod?

There's no doubt that choosing the right music for your wedding can make it go with a swing and one of the most important decisions is whether to choose a live band, a disc jockey or go it alone with an iPod. Let's look at the pros and cons of the different options:

Live Music

There's nothing quite like live entertainment to lift energy and bring a concert like vibe to your special day. It's very special and brings an upmarket feel to the proceedings. Guests will be tapping their feet and itching to hit the dance floor, and a good group will know how to keep your wedding flowing smoothly.

If you want to incorporate live music into your destination wedding, then it doesn't have to be restricted to a band playing at your reception. You could hire several different types of performers for different elements of your ceremony and reception, including a string quartet, a harpist, soloist or even a choir.

Pros: Unique variations on songs; wow factor; vibrant atmosphere

Cons: Higher cost; may require a lot of space; alternative music needed for when bands take a break; bands don't know all the songs; needs more organising; can be very loud


Hiring a DJ does have several advantages in that the cost is lower (unless you hire a celebrity DJ) and they don't take up a lot of space. They also have huge libraries of songs and

can play multiple genres of music as well as specific songs. Although they don't make such a visual impact, a good DJ can work the crowd and get everyone on the dance floor.

On the flip side there can be some terrible DJ's whose presence and choice of music is quite cringing and consequently the atmosphere falls flat. Always choose a DJ with a long history of playing at weddings. Liaise with him to ensure he understands the type of music you would like played and, more importantly, what you don't want playing (the “Birdie Song” springs immediately to mind!).

Pros: More affordable; can adjust the volume; broad choice of songs; will play requests

Cons: Not as dynamic as a band


Live music and even DJ's can be expensive, and if you're on a tight budget, or perhaps your wedding party is quite small, then either choice may not be appropriate, in which case the old trusty iPod may be a better choice. Here's a bit of advice if you go down this route:

  • Put someone in charge – Put a friend in charge who loves to emcee and can sound out the audience, but be sure it's someone who will take the job 
  • Create specific playlists – Spend a day creating playlists. They need to broken down into different sections to cover times such as when canapés and cocktails are being handed around, dinner is being eaten, and when it's time to hit the dance floor. There are plenty of websites and apps which can make this task easier.
  • Sound out the equipment – Ahead of the wedding check with the venue to see what they do and don't provide. Sometimes there will be an iPod docking station, microphone and speakers. If not you may have to rent the equipment. Bring your fully charged iPod, and if possible, a back up just in case.

Pros: low cost, total control of the music

Cons: Someone will have to manage the playlists; risk of technical problems


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