by Michael Kabel
Music and dancing is traditionally a huge part of the wedding reception's festivities. Wedding guests will pretty much expect music of some kind or another, and if nothing else music does create the tempo and momentum that leads to a good party. If you think back on the wedding receptions you've attended in the past, probably all of them had music at one time or another.
The choice lies in deciding if a live band or a disc jockey makes the best fit with your reception plans and decorations.
Booking a live band
A live band's biggest advantage is also its curse: the human element. A good live band can make the party come alive, and will tailor its music to fit the mood of the wedding reception crowd.
Take a reasonable amount of time before deciding on the band that's right for your reception. Ideally, you want an act that can play several different types of music, to give your varied guests a variety of styles. Most professional show bands will have performances videotaped as a kind of "audition reel," and will offer playlists to their potential customers that outline their typical set, or collection of songs played in a group.
The downside to a live band is that they need more breaks than a disc jockey, are more likely to make mistakes with the performance of the music, and generally are more high maintenance. They'll have more equipment to set up and break down, and more people to feed at the reception (it's generally considered good form to include the band in the food and drink.)
Booking a DJ
Disc jockeys have a vast collection of music at their disposal, so a variety of musical styles is always an option. The modern disc jockey doesn't just play songs, either. As an artist in his or her own right, the disc jockey will have any number of remixes, alternate tracks, and smashups to play for hip, modern audiences. They'll create sound scapes that echo your feelings and exactly communicate moods to the audience.
You'll also want to interview disc jockeys before making your choice. Some old school types are available that simply play music that crowds know and love. This is fine if you're looking for something cozy and traditional for your guests. On the other hand, if you want something more modern and stylish, you'll want a disc jockey with a little more pizzazz.
A disc jockey's down side comes from detachment with the audience. It's harder for a jockey to feed off a crowd's energy, and that can lead to some disconnect between guests and the music. Again, make sure you've interviewed and sampled your final choice before offering a disc jockey the gig.
Clear The Entertainment With Your Reception Hall
Some venues have legally-enforced noise ordinances that must be observed. Obviously, this can put a crimp in your entertainment. Before you book the act, make sure your reception hall doesn't have any such restrictions.
Some venues are set up for live entertainment, and some aren't. The best venues have public address systems and mixing boards the entertainment can simply plug their equipment into; others may be less sophisticated.