When planning a Chicago wedding many couples focus on the dress, the food, the flowers, the photos and the endless other details yet they often overlook the importance of the entertainment. While all the elements that go into making a perfect wedding day are important, it is the entertainment at the reception that ultimately has the most impact on your and your guest’s enjoyment of the day. Your guests will barely remember what they had for dinner but will remember if they had a great time dancing or socializing or left early because the entertainment was terrible.
DJ or Band?
Live music and a stage full of musicians adds an element of energy to a wedding that a DJ just can’t match. The right band also adds an air of style and sophistication. There are however several drawbacks to hiring a band for your wedding day. A band is usually more expensive than a DJ due to the number of people involved and the associated costs for parking, meals, etc.
An average wedding band in Chicago starts out at around $1,600. This is a base price and can go up considerably depending on the number of musicians and vocalists desired and if you would like them to learn additional songs.
The major limitation to live music is the bands ability to play a diverse enough range of music to please all of your guests. Bands usually have certain styles of music they excel at and don’t vary much outside of that. Will your band be able to play Big Band for the grandparents, Disco for the parents and then later on 80’s Rock and Top 40 for the younger crowd? Many bands will be able to accommodate a limited number of special requests but they just won’t have the flexibility to handle a wide range of musical styles and requests. If your and your guest’s musical tastes fall into the bands range of available selections this won’t be much of an issue.
A professional disc jockey is often a good choice for wedding reception entertainment due to their ability to accommodate a wide range of musical styles and their relative affordability. A professional wedding DJ in the Chicago area averages around $1,2000. Note that this is an average price and may be higher depending on which company you choose and any additional options that you may add such as extra lighting, larger sound systems, etc.
Some couples choose to solve the dilemma by incorporating both a band and DJ however, this can become quite expensive.
How to choose the right wedding entertainment?
First of all, do your research and seek out professionals. Just because your friend’s cousin has an iPod and has downloaded some music doesn’t make them a DJ or if they really rock at Guitar Hero doesn’t mean their band is ready to perform at weddings and someone you should trust with one of the most important days of your life.
Price should not be the only factor when considering entertainment given how important it is to the success of your reception. As the old adage goes “You get what you pay for”. Cheap DJ’s and bands are cheap for a reason whether it is lack of experience, lack of professional equipment or the fact that they do not run a reputable business. As with anything, expect to pay more for higher quality and better service. The deciding factor should not solely be price but value. Are you getting a quality service at a reasonable and fair price?
Another factor to think about when looking at the price of your wedding entertainment is all of the preparation involved leading up to the big day. In addition to the 8 or more hours the entertainer will be working on the day of your event you must also take into consideration all the time they will spend preparing for your event attending meetings, preparing music, rehearsing introductions, etc. A professional wedding entertainer will spend at least 10 to 20 hours preparing for your event. Amateurs will not.
A true professional wedding entertainer does much more than just show up and play music. They set the tone for the entire event and are your emcee and event host, event coordinator, music programmer, lighting designer, crowd motivator and more. A professional wedding entertainer will coordinate all the activities of your wedding reception to ensure that everything flows smoothly and your guests thoroughly enjoy themselves. When it comes to dancing a good entertainer will play the right songs at the right time to keep your dance floor full.
To seek out potential entertainers ask any newlywed friends for referrals, ask the other wedding professionals you are working with for their recommendations, check with the Better Business Bureau, read local wedding publications and search online.
Once you have found 3-5 companies you are interested in pick up the phone and give them a call or send them an email. First of all how responsive are they? Do they answer the phone right away or promptly return your calls and emails? How professional do they appear?
Ask them about their performance style. Does it match what you are looking for? Some companies are highly interactive which means they will bring props and lead dances with the crowd and maybe even sing. Some companies will act as an emcee but will not be overly interactive. Some companies do neither. Find the company whose style matches yours.
Once you have narrowed down the field to 3 or so perspective companies set up an appointment to meet with a company representative or better yet your potential entertainer. At the meeting do they listen to what you want or do they tell you how they do things? How interested are they in discovering your musical tastes and your vision for your wedding? Will they help you plan the reception and the music? Do you get to choose your entertainer or do they assign them? You should ask a lot of questions to find out as much as you can about the company and the entertainer. Ask for references from past clients. After all is said and done, do you walk out of the meeting with a good feeling about what they can bring to your wedding day?
Weigh your options carefully and choose the entertainment that you think best suits your tastes and budget, will provide an enjoyable atmosphere for your guests and is professional and reliable.
Once you have chosen the entertainment make sure you get a thorough contract that spells out the obligations of both parties so there will not be any misunderstandings further on down the road.
Whether you choose a band or a DJ make sure you do your research and find professional entertainment that matches your style and your wedding day will BE fantastic!