Both versions have merit, but there are practical matters to consider.
bride and groom sharing first dance

It's a question brides and grooms have been grappling with ever since someone came up with the idea of a first dance: Should you play the well-known recorded version of your song, or should you have your band perform their own live rendition? Ultimately, this decision is one that only the two of you can make, but we rounded up the benefits of each option. As you try to make a decision, consider these points.

Reasons to Go with the Live Version

A talented live band should produce a sound that a recorded version can't compete with. To be sure it sounds as good as can be, give the band ample time—at least a month—to learn your selected first dance song. Send the bandleader or whoever is in charge a YouTube link of the exact arrangement you'd like so they can try their best to recreate it onstage.

Another reason why you should have your band perform this song comes down to the budget. You're paying for live music—it would be a waste of money to play a record. Lastly, hearing a song you love done in a slightly unfamiliar but entertaining way is another way to put a custom touch on your wedding.

Reasons to Go with the Recorded Version

Depending on your first dance song, guests will probably have heard the recorded version many, many times, and no matter how good the band is, they won't be playing it exactly as your beloved original artists did. Plus, the band will have the opportunity to play dozens of songs over the course of your five-hour reception—if they don't play this one song, it won't be a waste of your money or their talent.

On the more practical side, if you and the groom are planning to do a choreographed first dance and practicing to a certain recording, it may throw you off to hear a live version which will naturally sound different. You should also consider whether or not the song you've selected is in your band's wheelhouse—if you hired a country-western band to perform during the reception, there's no way "All of Me," by John Legend will be the same in their musical hands.


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