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Your event music can keep everyone on the dance floor late into the night or send them to sleep at their table. So consider carefully who you choose as your band, DJ, or musician. And that is the first decision you have to make–band, DJ, or musician?
There are advantages to all three, so it really just depends on the style that you’re looking for in your event. Musicians are generally considered more appropriate for wedding ceremony music as they are strictly instrumental–an artist or artists with a flute, harp, or guitar, etc. Bands and DJs are typically more suitable for a reception, party, or bar/bat mitzvah. Live bands can offer a more personalizable set in some ways and tend to be more entertaining and engaging to watch and listen to. A wedding DJ will have a wider range of songs available on his set list and will most likely be able to play for longer stretches of time.
When hiring a band, DJ, or musician, consider your venue and whether they have any rules or guidelines as far as the music that is allowed to be played or the sound level that is allowed. Depending on the strictness of the rules, this may force you to adjust who you hire or it may merely require a conversation with your music vendor as to what their guidelines are.
Whatever style of musician you decide on, ask them for a sample of their playing or DJing to listen to before you choose. This will give you an idea of what they sound like live and how they interact with the crowd. If they hesitate to give you a sample, that will be a red flag in your search.
A musician (ceremony or otherwise) will cost around $200 to $500 per musician. If your venue has an instrument already–like a piano in the corner–it may save you money to choose a musician that plays the already existing instrument. A six to ten piece live band will range in price from $2000 to $6000 depending on size and demand. A DJ will likely charge between $1500 and $2500 depending on experience and availability.
Questions to ask your wedding entertainment vendor: What will the musician wear? How much set up time do you need? What is your signature sound? How does the band/DJ feel about a request list? How many breaks will the band or DJ need? What is your overtime policy?