Music is one of the best ways to personalize your wedding: It adds to the beauty and romance of your ceremony; and at the reception, it has the power to get your guests up dancing and having fun all night long.

Variety is the key to wedding music. It may not be a good idea to hire a country band just because you both like country music. The same thing goes for jazz groups, hip-hop artists and mariachis—they offer little in the way of variety. Plus, what appeals to your high school friends may not appeal to your business associates. So mix things up and make sure your musicians have the ability to play everything from Cole Porter to Coldplay.

There was a time when a DJ was considered an ordinary, banquet-center staple. But with more people preferring to hear songs as performed by the original artists, DJs are becoming part of the country club set. Still, there are those who would refuse to have anything less than a Lester Lanin-type band and would roll their eyes at the mention of a DJ.

So if that fun factor is a must-have element for your reception and you don’t want to do two bands, you might consider live music and a DJ for later on in the evening. As with any of your purveyors, go through all the business steps: Hear their tapes, visit a performance, check out their references and compare the prices.

Both live musicians and DJs can act as emcee to announce moments such as the couple’s arrival and the toast. Be sure that your band/DJ is in touch with the facility manager in advance; and with very little effort, you can expect a seamless evening.


You may enjoy the Electric Slide or YMCA, but they are definitely on my do-not-play list. Be that as it may, I’ll get up to dance to Copacabana.

The point is, there is a solution out there for your wedding, one that has the elegance your parents prefer and the fun factor your college friends will want. It might take some effort on your part, but this is the most important day in your life—it will be worth it.

Do work with your parent or someone of another generation than your own. That way, you’ll be able to please more guests. For instance, think of your older guests when assembling the play list. Do some ’50s and ’60s songs (The Supremes or Dionne Warwick); then some ’70s music (The Rolling Stones or Lynyrd Skynyrd), some ’80s (Madonna or Billy Idol); and then current artists like Mary J. Blige, Maroon 5 and Adele. Some bands are able to cover a good sampling of this and a DJ should be able to do the same.

Other things to consider: Live music is elegant; and generally, has a much better sound. However, it can be pricey (approximately from $2,500 to $25,000). And some wedding bands have one volume, which can overpower a small reception venue.

A DJ can have libraries of songs by the original artists. On the flip side, a DJ who is bored or hard-headed might play songs on your do-not-play list. Wouldn’t you hate it, if you returned from the bar and found Grandma on the dance floor doing the Macarena?

Whatever you do, get what you want. Don’t overspend! Be flexible. There are options for every possible situation.

So if Shakespeare was right, if music be the food of love, then by all means, play on.

John Sullivan has a fine arts degree from Kansas City Art Institute. He has partnered with Ken Miesner for the past 25 years at Ken Miesner’s Flowers at Plaza Frontenac, where they have done flowers for more than 1,000 weddings!