All About Wedding Music - What Are the Options?

All About Wedding Music - What Are the Options?

By now, you’ve thought through your wedding day from start to finish. You probably know what song you want to walk down the aisle to, which song will be playing when you share your first dance, but do you know who will be playing these totally crucial musical numbers? We talked to Jonathan Wiegratz, Director of Events at Boston Common Entertainment to get the inside scoop on wedding entertainment and how to book it. Now let’s talk about your options!

PHOTOGRAPHY | Larissa Cleveland Photography


When it comes to booking you have a few options: go through a third party, like a booking agency or your wedding planner, or go directly to the source. Jonathan explains that booking agencies “offer the widest variety of…options under their umbrella”. They “act as facilitators between you and the bandleader (or DJ) for contracting, communications and planning details.” Some bands or DJs may require you to go through their agents to book their services. Because the agents take a commission, this option may be more costly. 

Going directly to the source can be a great option if you already know who you want to perform at your wedding. Maybe you saw them perform at another event or have been following them on social media. If you know what you want, don’t hesitate to reach out and they’ll let you know all about their booking process. 

PHOTOGRAPHY | Merari Photography

Band vs. DJ

The band vs. DJ debate is something every couple will need to address at some point in the wedding planning process. Hopefully, you two are on the same page, but in case you can’t decide, we’ll help break it down for you.


It’s no mistake that live bands are an ever-popular form of entertainment for weddings; few things are as romantic as live music hanging in the air. Not only do bands add to the ambiance, but they provide actual entertainment for your guests while they are dancing or enjoying the show from their seats. Live bands are perfect for medium to large venues because they fill a space with sound and also require more space than a DJ. Because they require multiple performers and a vast amount of equipment, they tend to be the more expensive music option. 

PHOTOGRAPHY | Aaron Delesie

Types of Bands

That’s right, there are several different types of bands, and we’re not talking genres. 

1. Independent Wedding Band

This is what usually comes to mind when we think “band”. According to Jonathan, it is “owned by a single bandleader and offers their band with a dedicated member lineup”. This means what you see is what you get. Most bands have videos of them performing on their website that you can watch ahead of time to make sure that your styles are compatible. Because you or your planner are working directly with the bandleader, you may get more one-on-one service and customization. Something to keep in mind when hiring an independent wedding band is that they may or may not have their own lighting and sound equipment. If they don’t this will be an additional cost and you will need to coordinate with another rental company to acquire all of the necessary equipment.  

2. Staffing Agency Band

This type of band is more like an organization of musicians that operate under a united band name. Jonathan explains, that these bands book “multiple events on the same day… then staff events from a call-list, based on how busy they are on the day.” This means that the band members that you saw perform in any previews may or may not be the band members that arrive to perform on your wedding day. The good news is that all of the musicians are vetted by the band and know all of the songs. Another plus is that this is often the most affordable way to hire a live band for your big day. 

PHOTOGRAPHY | Brandon Kidd Photography

3. Independent Entertainment Company

“The Independent Wedding Entertainment Company will offer the best balance between an Independent Band and a Booking Agency”, Jonathan explained. This option offers a dedicated band and sound and lighting equipment package all-in-one–a musical one-stop-shop! Because it is the most convenient option, it is also one of the more expensive options for live music. Another plus is that some Independent Entertainment Companies may offer other options like photo booth and event lighting packages. 


Hiring a DJ for your wedding can be a great option if you have a specific list of songs that are on your “must-play list”. If it’s the originals that you crave–a DJ is the right option for you! But a DJ is so much more than just the songs they play…and this is an easy detail to overlook. Most DJs double as an MC for your wedding–announcing your first dance, the cake cutting, etc. Each DJ has their own personality. You want to make sure that their personality (and sense of humor) is compatible with yours, so it’s always a good idea to meet with several DJs in person to see which one is right for your wedding. Depending on how involved you want to be with the song selection, some DJs will allow you to customize the entire wedding playlist; most will ask for a must-play and don’t-play list. Make sure to inquire about music for the ceremony as well as that will change the time your DJ arrives to set up and the quote. 

PHOTOGRAPHY | Jessica Grazia Mangia

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