Wedding first dance at outdoor summer wedding
Photo: Kambria Fischer

One of the best parts about planning a wedding is choosing the music. And the first decision you'll need to make as a couple is whether you want to hire a live band or a DJ. This can make a big difference. For example, although live bands will bring the energy of a live show to your reception, it's likely they will only know so many songs and will also have their own distinct style. While it's possible to request that your live band learn something new, a DJ will obviously have a wider book of music at his or fingertips.

However, if you've made the decision to go with a live band, here's where to start. Take a step back and appreciate the fact that you get to hire a live band — how many times in life do you get to go shopping around for a band?! Next, it's time to start narrowing down your options, because once you start searching for the right option, you'll soon realize that there are many, many bands out there.

Choose Your Genre

Do you want a swing band? Maybe a funk band to cross multiple generations? My brother Brett told me that when choosing his band, he looked for a group that could fill the dance floor with guests from every generation (for example, one that could get grandma out on the dance floor too!). He ended up finding a great funk band that played everything from Stevie Wonder to Pharrell Williams. Or, are you into hip hop, classic rock, etc? The list goes on and on. Once you settle on a genre, it's time to consider your playlist.

Build Your Playlist

It's smart to come up with a playlist, or at the very least, a handful of songs that you definitely want played. Provide this list to the bands you interview and make sure they know the songs. Don't forget to provide them with the following: A list of songs you want them to play (and when -- for example, some upbeat songs to get everyone on the dance floor like Stevie Wonder's "Superstition") and a complete list of songs you don't want them to play. And may I offer up a pro tip? Whatever band you end up going with, don't forget to check in with them again, just prior to your wedding, to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes the playlist and the logistics -- it's super important that your band arrives on time!

Look at Their Reviews

As I said earlier, there are a lot of bands out there. So, there's really no reason not to find a great one. I'm a firm believer in looking at the reviews of past couples when it comes to finding a reliable wedding vendor. And reliability is the key work here. Does the band have a history of showing up on time? Are they easy to work with? These are really good questions to ask, and if there are any concerns, they will likely show up in the form of past reviews.

Go With Your Gut

Lastly, go with the band that makes you move in your chair during the interview! You won't regret it. If you're not sure where to begin, here's a handy vendor guide to help you start your search. And why not work on finding your groom's attire while you're at it?