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January 17, 2017

Entertaining Options

By Adam
Your wedding is about you and your groom, but your guests want to have a good time, too! Plan some fun for everyone by hiring the right entertainment for your event.  San Diego Style Weddings breaks down what you need to know about hiring DJs and bands.
 True Photography Weddings


A disc jockey typically plays music throughout the reception. Most often, they’re a one-person set-up who emcees the event, plays the music, and keeps the pace of the party from the entrance announcements to the first dance to the cake cutting and more.

  • BEST FOR: A DJ’s biggest strength is variety. They can successfully transition from Dean Martin during dinner to the Black Eyed Peas during dancing, plus play versions of the songs you like the best. They have a huge catalog of songs to play, and if you give them a heads up before the wedding, DJs can stock up on all your favorites. The best part? They can play a little something for everyone from your grandma to your college roommate.

A DJ also works best in smaller venues. In a venue that accommodates less than 100 guests, an eight-piece band just realistically doesn’t fit very well.

  • PRICE: The price for a DJ ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 for a standard four- to six-hour package. You’re paying for the DJ’s skill and time, as well as the equipment and the liability insurance, too.

Don’t forget a tip, which can range anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on how happy you are with the service.

  • FINDING A DJ: Finding a DJ is as easy as asking other vendors for referrals. Select a few DJs to consider and review their samples, which can usually be found on their website or through a request to the DJ. Once you narrow your choices, meet two to three DJs in person so you can get to know them and make sure you have a personality match.

Always be sure the DJ you meet with is the person who will be working your wedding. Many times during your consultation, you’ll meet a company representative, not the actual DJ who you are hiring to entertain your party.

You can search for an experienced DJ through professional organizations such as The American Disc Jockey Association ( or the National Association of Mobile Entertainers (

Once you find a DJ you like, book early to guarantee their services for your event. Get a written contract with all the details explained, including which specific DJ you’re hiring.

Give your DJ a play list of songs or artists you like, as well as a no-play list so they know the music you don’t want to hear during your reception.


There’s nothing like live music to keep your party moving. You can hire a band to play just about any kind of music from Sinatra to rock ‘n’ roll to ’60s classics to party anthems to jazz standards.

  • BEST FOR:  Bands are best for livening up a party because they’re working hard to engage the audience with singing and dancing.  Their energy becomes the energy of the reception.

The bandleader typically hosts the wedding and makes sure the event stays on schedule. They’ll coordinate with the wedding planner and other vendors, such as the caterer and photographer, to choreograph the timeline for the reception.

However, bands can be limited by genres. For example, a 1980s cover band can play Air Supply and The Bangles, but they won’t work for playing Kanye West songs late into the reception. Consider whether these musical limitations are deal-breakers for you and your groom. .

  • PRICE: Pricing varies greatly depending on what kind of band you hire. Expect to pay a band somewhere between $1,500 to $6,000. You’ll pay more for large groups, who have to pay all the band members. It’s also customary to tip each band member about $25.

While a large band can often be more expensive, they do have more flexibility for your event. A band with 10 performers, for example, will be able to offer you music from a variety of instruments such as piano, guitar, and saxophone, as well as many singers with different vocal ranges.

  • FINDING A BAND: Bands are pretty to easy to find if you ask friends, family, and vendors for referrals. This way you’ll know the band comes highly recommended.

Review their sample audio and video and ask questions about how long they perform, how breaks are covered (will there be any music during the band’s breaks?), and interview a few of their previous clients to see what they liked about the band.

Be careful about the many amateur bands you’ll encounter during your search. These amateurs may have a cheaper price, but they’re often just starting out and don’t have the experience and professionalism that you’d expect from people performing at big events such as your wedding. Be wary of your favorite cover band from the local bar. They might be perfect for rousing the crowd of 20-somethings on a Friday night, but don’t know how to handle the pacing and etiquette of a wedding reception.

Ensure that you and your groom love your band choice and truly feel a personality connection with the band members, especially the bandleader, who will be the master of ceremonies for your reception. You need to get along well with these music professionals to guarantee they “get” your vision.