Don’t Stop the Music

Should I Hire a Live Band or DJ for My Wedding?

What will be the soundtrack to your big day? Every unforgettable event, celebration and party has a playlist. Your wedding music will be a top priority when it comes to planning your ceremony and reception. This blog contains an overview of how much to budget for your wedding entertainment, how to determine what type of entertainment to book based on your venue size and the benefits of hiring a DJ or live band for your event. Each of these elements will influence your final decision on wedding music.

Raleigh Wedding DJ Stylus
A Stylus S.E. DJ spins. Photo by Brian Mullins Photography.

Wedding Music Planning Tip #1: Know Your Budget

On the day of your wedding you want to hear the melody of your favorite song, not the sound of your bank account breaking! Start by setting a budget for your wedding entertainment. Sit down and talk with your fiancé and your planner, if you’ve hired one, to discuss your goals. From there, prioritize and allocate available funds to the wedding music elements and any other entertainment aspects that are special to you both. The cost of quality entertainment in NC is reasonable. Below you’ll find the average cost breakdown.

How Much Do Ceremony Musicians Cost?  

Typically, wedding ceremony musicians start around $400 for a soloist and go up from there for duos and trios.

How Much Does a Wedding DJ Cost?

Professional DJs in the Raleigh area start at about $2,000 for base packages. Cost can rise to $7,500 with add-ons like specialty lighting, rentals and more. The cost for a wedding DJ increases with the addition of extra hours as well as level of experience. Check out our preferred NC DJs and live bands.

How Much Does a Live Band Cost?

On average, live bands cost from $3,500 to $8,000.

North Carolina harpist
 Sarah Cavaiani of Hummingbird Harmonies.

Wedding Music Planning Tip #2: Match Your Entertainment to Your Reception Venue

For both practical and aesthetic reasons, you want the size of your wedding music entertainment to complement the size of your reception. For example, if you are having an intimate, backyard wedding reception of fewer than 50, you might want to skip the 10-piece live band for a bluegrass trio. Udeshi Hargett Ensembles offers several options perfect for an intimate reception. Book violinist Udeshi herself, or choose a string duo, trio or quartet for a classic combo.

Sarah Cavaiani is a harpist who relocated her business, Hummingbird Harmonies, from Wisconsin to North Carolina in 2020. Sarah typically performs at 25 to 30 weddings per year, and offers a wide range of genres. Sarah says that her clients “either veer toward pop – so, Ed Sheeran and Christina Perri are both very, very popular – or classical, like Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major.'” No matter what musical genre you prefer, booking a harpist like Sarah to play during your ceremony is a great choice whether you’ve chosen an intimate venues or a grand space that calls for elegant entertainment.

Raleigh wedding DJ Stylus SE
Stylus S.E. Photo by Fancy This Photography.

Or, if you’re hosting a reception for more than 150 people, you might want to hire an experienced DJ who will keep the party going all night long. Check to make sure your reception venue has the infrastructure for the wedding music or entertainment you desire. If you are hosting an event in a remote location or outdoors, consider whether the space has the appropriate utilities available. Stylus S.E. offers a variety of DJ packages to accommodate for any size wedding or budget. From the entry level Modern Wedding Package, to the Total Party Package, Stylus S.E. will tailor their services to your unique event. We’ve even booked Stylus S.E. for our Heart of NC Weddings annual vendor blender and can personally attest to the fantastic job they will do!

Are you unsure what size of entertainment will work best at your wedding venue? Be sure to ask your event planner or venue coordinator. If you’re sure you want to amp up the energy with a live band, Key Signature Entertainment helps connect engaged couples with top-notch live entertainment. Key Signature facilitates live bands for private events across North and South Carolina, and takes pride in providing professional, dependable live talent. Booking with Key Signature will ensure your band is not only experienced, but well-suited to the specific needs of your event.

Wedding Music Planning Tip #3: Hire a Pro

It might be tempting to let your favorite cousin, who knows all the best music, play DJ at your wedding. But please don’t. Aside from the long list of nightmare scenarios that come with an amateur DJ, there are so many amazing reasons for hiring a professional NC wedding DJ.

  • Pro DJs come prepared. On the day of your wedding, the DJ arrives early to set up all of their own, excellent sound equipment, not your cousin’s bluetooth speaker.
  • A professional DJ will have an endless variety of songs at their fingertips. Forget trying to find playlists last-minute on your Spotify account. A professional DJ can adjust to the mood of the event, take requests, and easily play music from any genre.
  • Professional DJ’s know how to read a crowd. A DJ can provide a constant flow of carefully selected music that appropriately fits the mood of your event at different points throughout the night.
  • Pro DJs know how to announce on a microphone. The last thing you want is your cousin to be mumbling incoherent gibberish during your reception. “We direct the attention where it belongs – on you and your guests,” says Stylus S.E. owner Jason Huggins. “You won’t hear any complaints about our DJ spending too much time on the mic because your guests will be too busy dancing the night away!” Hire a DJ that can clearly announce your wedding reception entrance, first dance, blessings, toasts, and more.
  • “Couples should truly consider what type of ambience and vibe they desire on their special day, whether it’s a low-key, classy ambiance or a high-energy, nightclub vibe,” says Ava Michele, event coordinator, host and DJ with Holly Springs-based entertainment company DJ Ones. “Couples should keep in mind that their DJ will be in control of about 80% of their special day.”
Raleigh area wedding musicians
Udeshi Hargett Ensembles

Wedding Music Planning Tip #4: Hire a Live Band 

Witnessing a live performance is an experience. Exactly in the same way going to a live concert is lightyears more exciting than listening to an album from your earbuds at home. Hiring a live band to supply your wedding music is an excellent decision. Here’s why:

  • Live bands are artists. These musicians are incredibly talented NC artists who have trained or devoted their entire lives to creating music for audiences. Hummingbird Harmonies owner Sarah Cavaiani has been playing harp at weddings since she was 15 years old. With her special love of wedding performances, Sarah has mastered the musicianship, timing and delivery required for live events, and is sure to bring elegance to your big day.
  • Live bands know how to engage with an audience. Party bands are dramatic and high-energy, so guests who don’t enjoy dancing will still have fun watching the live band perform.
  • Live bands are diverse. You can hire a folksy acoustic band, a snazzy jazz ensemble, or even a show-stopping soul band. The options are limitless!
  • Live bands are flexible. Most live bands you hire have a prolific list of songs that they already know extremely well and are experienced in performing. In addition, many live bands will learn a special song by request before your wedding! Udeshi Hargett can perform anything with a modern-meets-classical flair, from pop to classical songs and even fiddle tunes. She works with each couple to craft a perfectly personalized list of songs.
Wedding Reception Dancing to Greek Music Played by Stylus Events DJ at The Bradford venue Raleigh, NC f8 photo
Wedding guests dance to Stylus S.E.

The Final Takeaway for Planning Your Wedding Music 

The bottom line? Whether hiring a DJ, live band or any type of entertainment, ask lots of questions. It is important that your professionals are familiar with the specific needs that weddings entail – not just bars and fraternities. Professional wedding DJs and live bands are the route to go for smooth and extraordinary wedding memories.

This blog was posted on Aug. 20, 2019 and updated in April 2023.

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