Sure, you want the ceremony to be meaningful and the dinner to be memorable, but what really makes a wedding a party – be it refined or rollicking – is the entertainment. And to get this party started, the most important element, of course, is this music.

In 2012 couples nationwide on average spent $3,084 for a band and $988 for a DJ. That said, prices vary widely depending on experience, notoriety and location.

To find great, reliable performers, first ask your friends who’ve recently gotten married what they thought of their band/DJ. You also can search the vendor listings in city-specific bridal magazines or on wedding-related websites. If someone strikes your fancy, try to see them in action at a wedding, bridal event or individual show; but if a live viewing is impossible, request a DVD or video so that you can get a good idea of their professionalism and stage presence as well as their sound and musical range.

If you find that a particular band or DJ’s vibe is music to your ears, the next step is to set up an interview. Explain what you’re thinking in terms of musical selections and see if they get excited. You’ll also want to ask about their experience with weddings (hopefully lots!), what kind of sound system they use, what requirements are included in their contract, if you can create a do-not-play list and if they’re willing to learn/acquire songs that aren’t already included in their repertoire.

Have ample funds? In addition to the band or DJ that can offer something for everyone, personalize your event with a ukulele, harpist or trio for the ceremony (consider classical renditions of rock songs for your walk down the aisle!), and a line dance, swing or salsa band that could play during the cocktail hour and/or part of the reception.

But if you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll likely be better off opting for a DJ (who also can emcee and play many genres of music) or springing for a single band that’s capable of playing ceremony, cocktail hour and both dinner and dancing. Filling up an iPod or laptop with your favorite tunes is another way to save money, but take note: You’ll still need an emcee, you should be prepared for technical glitches, and it’s key that you assign a point-person to start and stop the device for special dances and toasts, or to skip to the next song if the current one just emptied the dance floor.

© Brides 365