It's not often discussed, and yet it is an issue that people seem to have very strong opinions on: live versus recorded music at weddings. There is a big stigma attached to having a CD play your recessional rather than having a full-blown orchestra there to do it instead. But would the orchestra really provide a better solution?
When Big Brother 5 star Michelle Bass walked down the aisle, she did so to the strains of Water Shows The Hidden Heart by Irish music star Enya. She loved how pretty the tune sounded. She could have chosen to have some musicians come in and play their version of the song. But she didn't want that; she wanted the version she knew and trusted - the Enya original. Any event musician, no matter how talented, would have struggled to recreate the tune given the level of studio tuning the song has.
The main nub of the matter is often cost. Those with money have the live bands; CDs provide cheap alternative for those who have to watch the pennies. Even in churches, organists can cost upward of £200. Most places of worship and civil ceremony venues are fitted with decent sound systems these days. This is something you can take into consideration when deciding between live or recorded music. Always ask to hear the sound system play something if you want to be sure. (This rule is also true of any musician you consider, be they organist, chorister or band - always make sure you hear them perform live before you book.)
For evening receptions, the classic choice has always been between live band or disco DJ. Nowadays, with the advances in music technology, you could always create a digital playlist (on iPod, MP3 player etc) to play all your favourite tracks to party the night away to. Downsides include hire charges for amplification equipment and asking someone to stay sober and keeping an eye on the music all night long.
Ultimately you must remember to stick within your budget and any other constraints on entertainment you might have. We can't all be like Petra Ecclestone, who hired the Black Eyed Peas to do a private show at her Italian nuptials. Given that the final wedding bill came to around £12m, we're guessing they didn't come cheap!