Eye To Eye: I’m With The Band!


[Jordyn and Drew’s beautiful garden-inspired wedding from summer 2007. More pictures below!]

This is the classic debate when it comes to music and entertainment for a wedding: band versus DJ. Here are my thoughts, my biast opinion, from my experience and perspective.

A few years back I was, for the first time, planning a wedding with a couple from scratch and hunting for a live band for their reception. I called my mentor. She didn’t sugar coat anything. She voiced her concerns and my eyes have been opened ever since. There are just cons to a band. There are. I said it. Here’s my list:

1. Mic check. Okay, that’s an allusion to the emcee issue. Typically- and I have no idea as to why this is- a band has a lousy MC. Even if it’s the lead singer/front man/band leader… they just aren’t as good as a DJ may be. Now, this isn’t limited to all bands by any means, but in my experience I’ve yet to truly see different.

2. They drink. All of the members. And they put it on your tab. This is something that seems as though it just cannot be avoided. I remember last summer I worked an event with a large band- about 12 members- and when I got up after dinner and came back into the reception room I noticed that there were bottles and glasses surrounding these dudes. About 2 per person, I’d say. When you know the cost of the drinks they were having… it’s borderline offensive. That’s the way I took it. And though my mentor warned me- and I warned them right off the bat- it happens. I cannot be there to babysit the entire evening, though with bands I am tempted to sometimes, as long as your coordinator is aware, they’ll just have to do the best they can.

3. They take breaks. Often! Don’t forget- about once an hour they require a 15 minute break. Which is well deserved. But this also means that they pop in a CD of their choice during those 15 minutes. And most of the time, that’s not so great.

Now, my list of pros:

1. There is nothing- nothing- to get a crowd dancing like live music. A DJ just doesn’t drum up the same type of feel as people performing in front of you.

2. The good ones behave. Never forget that. But be aware- they cost you a pretty penny. Think of what someone should be paid for their talent and time, and then multiply that by the number of members they’ll be bringing. Yikes- it adds up quick! If you’ve got the wallet for it, it’s worth it! And if you don’t- do not, NOT compromise and hire a non-professional act. They could ruin your wedding. Remember how much authority and responsibility any musical act at your reception will hold. It’s a big portion of the evening and that is NOT what you want your guests taking home with them.

3. Interaction and entertainment. Most of the time, the band can work it out for your uncle to serenade you, your dad to play the guitar for a song, or you to perform a duet with your new husband. They can also learn that classical waltz song you’ve been dying to dance to. A live band is instant entertainment and will cover a multitude of wedding “sins” [like running late during dinner]. Really, you just can’t put a price tag on a good time, can you!

The one thing that I’ve taken with me about having a live band is this: hire a DJ, too. It’s what I suggest to my clients. A DJ will be more focused on being a professional MC. Partially because, besides the music he’s pressing play on, this will be his main focus. A DJ can be there to play your “must haves” during the set breaks for your band. They can take care of any music important to you that doesn’t fit with the band’s style of playing. They can be there should there be technical difficulties, and plus- they can stay later into the evening and give you a bit of a break in the cash flow department [after all, getting a band for 4 hours instead of 7 Is a significant difference! Plus, when your friends want to dance, they’ll dance late into the evening and anything a professional wedding DJ plays should work great]. I know it seems like double duty. And let’s be honest: it is. But truly, it’s something I haven’t had any couple regret thus far. Most of the time, bands are just “different” than expected. Not better or worse per say, just different than anticipated. Having a backup to catch in case of pitfalls- like a DJ- is the most important thing.

And always- always- hire a professional. Above all else, that’s your security blanket.

Now for a bit of time down in Rancho Santa Fe, California…


The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is a unique little historical hotel located inland from the coast in San Diego county. It’s the perfect intimate setting for an outdoor wedding reception. I truly cherished working there- the ambiance, the natural beauty, and the staff who worked hard to pull out all the stops for this big day! The ceremony took place on the front lawn, cocktails around the pool area, and the reception [which is pictured above] out back. Summertime fun! Oh how I love California.


The escort cards were pinned to a big moss board that sat on an easel. Different and fun, plus easy to read and find! The guests loved it!


Another detail shot- Jordyn’s mom had her NEW married initials embroidered, in blue, into the hem of her dress. Such a gorgeous and personal touch!


I know, I know. I get to work with the most beautiful people on their most beautiful day. This picture embodies all that I love about Jordyn. Fun loving. Fresh faced [fresh attitude!]. Radiating her beauty, for sure. Plus, that honkin’ bouquet of greens absolutely floors me!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: marriage is SO sexy! This photo was actually taken from J&D’s “first look” session prior to the ceremony. Looks pretty good to me!!


Hands down: most memorable bridesmaid bouquets for me. I adore them! Big poofy poofs of greens with some flowers sprinkled in. Plus, with those darling knee-length black and white detailed dresses as a background… dang! This wedding had STYLE!


Bear with me here: this photo is a close up of the table that sat as a background for their ceremony. The backdrop was a large tree that was simply gorgeous, but J&D wanted something a bit more personal as well. They opted do take part in communion during their ceremony and this table served as the communion table. BUT, it was covered- and I mean 100% covered, in greens and flowers, too. A 6′ banquet table. To say “it was exquisite” is to fail in the word department. It was intricate and incredible. And it took two of her mom’s friends two hours to put together. Well worth it!


The last photo I’ve got to post: the cake! I love, LOVE, the simple clean and fresh details that Jordyn had implanted into her cake. These cupcakes, with simple leaf and berries [candy berries of course!], were plated on footed cake plates of alternating heights and set out over a 6′ tables. I wish I had more pictures handy to do any of these details justice. I may have to dig some out and find them just for you- to truly give you a good idea of what there was in store. I CAN give you this: a link to the pictures I took on their big day, via my blog. But for the rest from the incredible talented Andre Niesing, [who gave me all that you saw today] for those… I’ll have to dig.

Hope that this has given you even the smallest glimpse and inspiration.

Loving love today. Hope you are, too!!


A. Auer