Reception MusicUnless you’re holding your reception in that town from Footloose, you’re probably planning on having music and dancing at the reception. These days, there are more options than ever for getting that dance floor jumping. But should you hire a full band, stick with a DJ, or do the DJing yourself? Here are some pros and cons for each reception music option.


A wedding reception is one of the few times in your life you might be tempted to hire a band, unless you work at a concert venue for your day job. This option isn’t as popular as it used to be, but it’s worth considering.

  • Pros: There’s definitely a novelty component to a live band reception now. A good live band brings an energy you don’t get from a DJ or an MP3 player. They provide a whole show instead of just music coming through speakers.
  • Cons: This can be the most expensive option, depending on the band. You’ll need to audition a few bands to make sure they’re what you’re looking for. It’s the most unpredictable option, for sure–you could end up with an awesome show or an awesomely bad one.


A professional DJ is the other classic option for wedding music. They should roll up with their own P.A. and lighting system to bring the party all on their own.

  • Pros: A DJ’s job is to make sure the dance floor stays filled and the guests are having a good time, and a good DJ will have the job experience to make sure they can. They’ll know what music to play to get every demographic at your wedding dancing, and they’ll take care of technical issues with the sound system.
  • Cons: As with the band, hiring a DJ brings in an unpredictable human element. A *good* DJ keeps the party going, but a bad DJ can lead to an empty dance floor and an empty wallet. You also have to give specific instructions that might be ignored–at a recent wedding, a DJ ignored the bride’s request to keep the music family-friendly and blasted gangsta rap in front of the bride’s 80-year-old grandmother.


The most common solution for modern couples is to simply hook up a smartphone or laptop to the sound system and play music from their own collection. You might even stream music from a cloud-based server or a service like Spotify or Pandora.

  • Pros: This is by far the cheapest of the options, especially if you already own most of the music you want to play. It also offers the most control over what you play and how it sounds.
  • Cons: There’s a reason to hire a professional to keep the party going–they know what to play to get people up and moving. You may have a solid playlist of your favorite songs, but are they danceable? Can you appeal to all the demographics on your guest list? Also, if the venue doesn’t have a good sound system, you’ll have to rent one yourself.

What kind of music you have at your reception depends on your taste, your budget, and what you think will appeal to your guests. You can choose to give up a little certainty and control in favor of letting a pro take over, or play it safe and get exactly what you want. Either way, make sure to encourage your guests to take to the dance floor.