So how can you make sure you have killer music for your wedding reception/ "I just got married!" party?
Three Primary Options
- Hire a DJ Generally they cost less than a band ($350- $3,500 on average). DJs are great for smaller spaces because there are less chords and cables to set up. I've seen some pretty terrible ones though, so make sure you check references! Nothing's worse than a DJ who doesn't play your songs on cue (like the first dance).
- Hire a band Whether it's a wedding band, a local band trying to make it, or some friends of yours who play in their garage, there's nothing better than good, live music. Warning, they are more expensive ($1,300- $10,000 on average), unless your friends offer you a deal. Just be sure you have a demo or audition of sorts before you hire them to make sure they're right for you.
- Use an iPod with a set playlist This is a great option for smaller weddings with a tight budget. Just borrow or rent some sound equipment if your venue doesn't have any, let a bridal party member or another friend MC and you're good to go!
The Hiring Process
- Ask for recommendations. Whether it's from friends, family, other vendors or from people who have recently been married, recommendations are the best place to start.
- Contact, contact, contact! Once you have a starting list, contact your leads and ask for rates, how many people they'd be bringing along (how many band members or how many people will help the DJ set up) and get an idea of what songs they generally play. If that person(s) is over budget or doesn't fit the style you want, move on!
- Review the contract (if they have one). Read every single detail. If something isn't clear, ask. If something doesn't ring right with you, move on.
- Talk with your venue. Make sure you know the noise limits (if there are any). Do you need a special permit to have music in your outdoor reception space (for example, a public area)? Don't hire someone without knowing these things!
- Book your date. Well-known, well-reviewed DJs and bands go fast! Sign the contract and make your deposit to secure your date before you lose them!
Tips For Killer Reception Music
YouTube channel: mi1stranger
- Variety is key. What appeals to your college friends won't appeal to your grandparents, so try to play songs for everyone. Trey and I will have live dubstep (played by JP and DrewoftheDrew) for the younger crowd as well as a standard wedding band that will play classics and other well-known hits (for everyone else). Sounds like a lot, which it is, but I'm marrying a drummer from Berklee College of Music. So..... yeah, music was a big thing for him ha ha!
- Know your guests. If you don't think anyone will dance to the "Electric Slide," don't play it. In fact, make a list of Don't Play and give it to the band or DJ. The list can include over played songs, offensive songs, songs with language, songs you hate with a passion... you get the point.
- What do your guests want? If you want input from your guests, put a line on your RSVP cards so that they can request a song. They'll flip when they actually hear it at your wedding!
- Utilize your bridal party. It's the one day they'll have to do what you say (in moderation of course). Get them to bring a few guests with them. When people see other people dancing, they'll join in.
- Start the dancing early. Don't wait until after the last course is served or once the cake is cut before you start the party. More and more couples are starting the music after the first course. Not only will your guests stay longer, but they'll have more fun.
- Make sure the band or DJ knows the schedule and has their material. It's horribly awkward when they don't have it together. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out this poor couple. Their DJ ruined their first dance. It's so painful. I can't... I can't even watch.