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The Friday Fight-Out: The First Dance – Live Band Vs Recorded Track

Having a live band at your wedding undoubtedly adds an extra thrill and a bit of anticipation to the dance-floor, but one of the big decisions to make when you do have a live band is whether to have them play your first dance song or whether to jive along to a pre-recorded track. Both can be effective but which is the way to go? We put it to a debate to find out the answer…


In the Red Corner, fighting for the full live-band first dance experience, after difficulties obtaining a PA system on a remote spanish Island her own first dance was performed live by the band rather last-minute and to this day we still have no idea what the song they played was! It’s Dom “The Tog Bride”

In the Blue Corner, arguing the case for the pre-recorded first-dance track, well he did spend years trying desperately to stage-manage bands to come on stage at the right time with varying levels of success, it’s Matt “The Gormless Groom

First Dance – Live Band Vs Pre-recorded Track

first dance

Dom: If you have a wedding band then you want to launch their set with a bang and have them play the biggest song of the night – the first dance! Having a band standing and waiting whilst a pre-recorded track starts the night feels like something of an anticlimax!

Matt: If you’re looking to do a choreographed first dance then you’re unlikely to be able to practice with the band beforehand which may cause big problems with the timings of the steps as they’re unlikely to play at exactly the same tempo and in the same style as the recorded track you rehearsed with.

Dom: Dancing to a live band is so much more exciting than dancing to a recorded track and something you rarely get to experience as normally when a band are playing at a gig they are the sole focus and there’s no room to dance around!

Matt: You generally choose a first-dance song because it’s one that’s particularly special to you both, and it’s usually not just the song but the particular rendition of it that’s so special to you. Your band may simply not sing it the way you always pictured it whereas a recording will be exactly the song you chose every time.

Dom: The dance-floor is so much more atmospheric with a live band and you want the atmosphere and the emotion to be on overdrive for the first dance!

Matt: Musicians (no offense to my musician friends) can occasionally be a little disorganised and are not always ready to play the first dance bang on time and as per the schedule which can cause delays, whereas with a pre-recorded track you can get started whenever you like!

Dom: Played by a live band the first dance song really does become “your” song – you will have heard that same recording of the pre-recorded track so many times, whereas you will never have heard it performed the way your band performs it on that night. It’s a unique rendition just for you and that makes it so much more special.

Matt: The band may just not know your chosen song so you can end up not being able to play that special song that’s so important to you both.

Dom: A live band can play to the crowd and adjust their performance to heighten the atmosphere. They can also build the first dance track with heightening emotion before bursting into the next song to bring everyone else onto the dance floor to boogie the night away!

Matt: Sometimes you can get so caught up with the band playing the first dance exactly the way you want it that you end up choosing one based solely on that one song rather than the whole performance. This can mean that you actually end up with a lovely first dance but lack the real entertainment factor for the rest of the night which is probably more important overall.

first dance live band vs pre-recorded

So those are our thoughts but where do you stand? Leave a comment if you’d like to join in the debate or simply place your votes in our reader poll below:

Wedding Planner Vs Plan Your Own Day

All photographs by York Place Studios

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  • Holly J. Kotzé - January 10, 2014 - 4:44 pm

    I have so much to say on this which given that I myself have played tonnes of first dances very successfully for couples over the years I have also witnessed as a guest bands performing first dances…. In fact one in particular springs to mind but it’s a rather long story. Perhaps a guest post! ? XReplyCancel

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