Top 10 Wedding Music Myths
Learn about the ins and outs of hiring your band or DJ.
by Celeste Perron
Myth #1: A DJ will talk too much
You've probably heard about or experienced weddings where a DJ has talked more than he's spun, with cringe-worthy results. However, an experienced wedding DJ will only speak when it's appropriate. Every time a DJ speaks, he should have something important to say that has been planned in advance. To ensure that your DJ doesn't abuse his proximity to the microphone, be specific about when you want him to talk and when you don't. If you're nervous that yours is going to be a bit of a chatterbox, consider setting an example of what you find inappropriate. If you don't want him to use the microphone in the middle of a song, let him know in advance.
Myth #2: Bands take a lot of breaks
One common concern about hiring a band is that for every 45-minute set it plays, there'll be a 15-minute break filled with music from a compilation CD, which will drive bored guests from the dance floor. However, you can manage your band's need for downtime so that it doesn't disrupt the party too much. Ask the band members to stagger their breaks so there's live music throughout the night. It may cost an a bit more, but guests will stay entertained and the dance floor will stay full.
Myth #3: A DJ will play cheesy tunes
Worried that your DJ has his mind set on AC/DC and Meatloaf, when you're thinking more along the lines of Beyonce and Katy Perry? It doesn't have to be that way — your DJ wants to play what you want to hear, but you have to communicate your tastes clearly. Don't rely on words alone, as terms like 'dance music' and 'rock' are vague and can easily be misinterpreted. To make sure you are on the same music style page, give him a playlist and a list of those songs you don't want to hear.
Myth #4: You can control everything
You can give your DJ a long playlist, but you shouldn't try to micro-manage the music. To some extent, your lists should be guidelines for the mix master, not hard and fast rules. Your DJ should know the genre you're interested in, but let them choose the best way to mix the music — after all it's their job to keep people on the dance floor. Give your DJ some flexibility to react to the crowd and to adjust the tempo accordingly. There needs to be some element of trust between you and your DJ.
Myth #5: Bands love line dances
The days when it was de rigueur for a wedding band to encourage a conga line may be over, but if you're worried about that kind of thing, be sure to see the band in action before you sign on. Ask if they have a previous performance on YouTube to get a sense of how the band interacts with the crowd. You should also try to see them live. Of course, you can't crash somebody else's wedding, so find out if you can drop by to watch a performance at another type of event. Just keep in mind that you can't alter a band's style as easily as you can tweak a DJ's. If its live act is rambunctious and interactive, then asking the band to change might hamper its performance, so you're probably better off going with a different group.
Myth #6: A band can't offer enough variety
You'd be surprised by the musical depth a quality wedding band can offer. One indication that a band has versatility is if it has more than one singer — if it has both male and female vocalists, chances are it's open to a wider range of songs. Though a band may specialise in a particular style, professional musicians should be able to stray at least a little from their niche. And if a few of the songs you have your heart set on aren't in their repertoire, simply ask them to learn the songs before your wedding — most bands will learn between three and five songs if you give them enough notice.
Myth #7: A DJ will save you money
Although a DJ almost always costs less than a band, that doesn't mean you should cheap out on this supplier. If you're prepared to pay for a top DJ, you can sometimes get a lot more than somebody who just plays songs — they will talk to your photographer and tell him which songs are coming next so they can capture those special moments. It's the DJ's job to create the opportunity for them to occur.
Myth #8: Hiring a bar band is a good idea
Unless they also have a lot of experience with weddings, using a band or DJ that performs primarily in nightclubs is risky, as they won't be as adept at pleasing a diverse crowd. It might be worth considering finding somebody who has experience in wedding entertainment, as they will be well versed in wedding music etiquette.
Myth #9: You have to hire a DJ or a band — you can't have both
If you can afford it, you can have the best of both forms of entertainment. Either hire a DJ to spin while the band is on break, or divide the evening into two portions. Another option is to hire a band for your reception and a DJ to spin at the reception. Or, if you can't spring for a whole band, why not combine a few live musicians with a DJ. Some companies create packages where the musicians will play for the ceremony and during cocktail hour, then complement the DJ during the dancing by adding percussion to a hot Latin set.
Myth #10: Play slow songs first, then faster tunes after the cake cutting
Some couples request that their entertainers play '50s rock or big band style songs early on to please their older guests, then switch over to more lively beats so the younger crowd can dominate the floor until last call. However, it can be more fun for you and your guests if you have your band or DJ mix it up throughout the night. Alternating between speeds, styles and eras of music will keep wedding guests of all ages more engaged and encourage them to broaden the range of music they'll boogie to, with truly memorable results.