Wedding Receptions


Wedding Receptions: Love is a Melody -- Music


     Music can shape the mood of your reception like few other aspects of the party. Imagine the difference if a band is playing swing, a DJ is spinning techno, or mariachis are belting out salsa. It’s your party, so get ready to call the shots, from classical to disco.


     Naturally, you can also have quite different styles over the course of the reception. For example, you can start out with a small classical duo, trio or quartet for the receiving line and early part of the reception, then bring in the DJ to kick off your heels. Or, arrange to have an ethnic band – gypsy violinists, a Jamaican steel drum ensemble -- or virtuoso electronic keyboardist breeze in for a jazzed-up interlude between DJ sets.

Live or Recorded?


To a great extent, this question will be answered by six factors:

• How big is your budget?

• Do you have a lot of your own special requests?

• Is there a lot of suitable local talent available?

• Can the music providers work comfortably given the logistics of your venue?

• Do you want a live vocalist?

• Will there be much dancing?


     If you have decided to go live, and are comfortable enough with your choice(s) to talk turkey, here are questions that should be addressed:

• Are there videotapes you can watch, or audiotapes you can listen to (specifically of wedding receptions, if possible)?

• Are there references you can read, or speak with?

• Will you be able to hear the band play at a wedding reception before yours?

• Is there enough space for the band at the venue? Is it big enough for the band’s sound?

• Are the acoustics good?

• Will any extra equipment be required? Are the outlets and wiring sufficient?

• Is the band comfortable with all the songs you want on your play list, in addition to their repertoire?

• What will the band be wearing?

• Are back-up musicians available in case any one is indisposed?

• If you so decide, is the bandleader willing and able to MC?

• Who is legally authorized to represent the band?

• Who will be the responsible party at the reception?

• What is the total charge? How much down? When is the balance due?

• Is there a minimum number of hours? An extra charge for overtime?

• How many breaks will the band take? Do the members need to be fed?


     Do not be afraid to bargain. If you’ve interviewed more than one band, and one really is your first choice, tell them honestly: “We prefer to hire you, but you’re a bit above our price range. Is there any way you can bring your quote down?” (Perhaps the size of the band can be made smaller by one or two musicians.) If they won’t budge, see if you can’t live with your second choice.


     A DJ will probably be considerably cheaper than a band. Moreover, there is no reason he (or she) can not also be almost as versatile. Virtually any and every kind of music has been recorded today, and a knowledgeable DJ can find any piece you would like, and play it whenever (and however many times) you’d like.


     With a DJ, you can mix just about any and all types of music throughout the reception: a big band number for the grandparents, folk music for the parents, rock ‘n roll for you.

With but one or two obvious exceptions, the same questions above asked of the band are appropriate for asking a DJ. In addition, you will want to make the sure the DJ’s equipment will work and sound good at your venue.


     DJs can vary in price, from the high fees of a celebrity radio DJ to a college student who works at the university radio station. For a wide range of choices available in your area, call 1-800-DISCJOCKEY, or go to


     Actually, with today’s technology, you can pre-plan and customize your entire play list on a simple PC, and hire a high school kid to play MPEGs for a mere fraction of the price that a DJ would charge. Just put in the preparation time beforehand, and make sure the stereo sound system and speakers are adequate. Just make sure you don’t violate any copywrite laws.


     Similarly, with a plethora of anthologies of musical eras so easily available, you can buy (or borrow from the library) a collection of music from the seventies and/or eighties, for example, and hire an amateur DJ to play endless hours of your favorite music, for very little money.


     This same principle holds true for dancing music. In fact, you can tape hours of your favorite tunes and just hit the play and pause buttons on a good stereo tape deck. Just make sure you have the proper mix of fast and slow, romantic dances.