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Band, DJ, or Both?


Band, DJ or Both?

Deciding between a band and a DJ has always been a big question for couples when thinking about their wedding music. The average wedding has about six to seven hours of music played amongst the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and reception. Music plays a huge roll in the narration of the day, and it is important to know everything that you are looking for before you begin booking. We get the question all the time…”How much is wedding entertainment?” and we always respond in the same way, “It depends on what exactly you are looking for.”

We are going to break this post into two portions. DJs and Live Musicians.


DJ pricing is based on several factors:

  • Is your ceremony in the same venue as your reception?

  • How many people are you planning to have?

  • How large is your venue?

  • Do you need a DJ for just the reception or do you need ceremony and cocktail hour music as well?

  • If the wedding is outside, is power readily available for your DJ to plug into?

  • How many hours do you need them?

The above questions will affect the cost as determining the type and amount of equipment that the DJ needs to be prepared with. Many DJs have their own equipment but will charge extra for additional speakers, microphones, dance floor lights, etc.  These are all very valuable items and they require additional time to set-up.  That being said, the average wedding DJ in Chicago ranges from $1300-$2000.  You can find some that are less but be careful as many bring only a laptop with a couple speakers, a pre-made playlist and do not keep up with the wedding schedule.

We always recommend to ask them what their DJing process is. Do they have any documents to fill out with timing and song requests?  If they don’t have those items, chances are they don’t do very many weddings and they won’t follow the timeline.

Live Musicians

When looking into live musicians, the perception is that they can cost a lot more than a DJ. However, that isn’t necessarily true. In fact, live musicians can be cheaper depending on what you are looking for. Many times, a band will give you a great deal on musicians if you use them throughout the course of the night. For example, you will book the entire band for the night, the pianist and singer will perform for the ceremony, the upright bass or drums will be added to create a jazz trio during cocktail hour and dinner, and the full band performs during the reception.

On average, a five to seven piece band for an evening is $4500-upwards of $12,000. To have a trio perform throughout the night you will be looking at $1500-$2500 and if you want to have live musicians during the ceremony or a single musician (i.e. pianist or guitarist) pricing can start at $300/hour.

So whether you are thinking of having a live band or booking a DJ, we can help you find prices to stay within your desired budget. Ultimately, it comes down to the environment and atmosphere that you would like to showcase to your guests. We would love to help you come up with options and share our favorite entertainment vendors with you.

– The Storybook Team

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