Your evening reception definitely needs some kind of planned schedule to ensure you manage to fit in all the fun and don’t miss out any important parts of the day. We’ve heard plenty of stories where couples have been having so much fun, they’ve forgotten to cut the cake for example!
When attending a wedding as a guest, it’s not your job to pay attention to what’s happening and when – you’re just there to celebrate and have fun. But it might mean you’re not 100% sure what timings will work best for wedding evenings when planning your own, but don’t worry! We’ve put together a suggested schedule that should help you ensure everything goes swimmingly.
But before we get started, we’d just like to point out that there’s no need to be too strict with your timings, you want to be living in the moment, not watching the clock. Try to use your schedule as a loose guide instead. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan at weddings, so go with the flow and focus on trying to take in as much as you can, rather than making sure things start at the right time.
5.30/6.00pm – The Band or DJ Arrives
Based on typical wedding day timings, your speeches are likely to be underway when your band arrives, so you won’t be around to greet them. But often your venue’s events co-ordinator or a dedicated person will be on hand to show them where to set up – but it’s worth confirming this ahead of time with your venue to be sure.
You can’t really plan for how long speeches will be unless you’ve specifically set a limit for your chosen speechmakers. Regardless of how long the speeches are, your band will start setting up once they arrive if they are in a separate room. If not, they’ll wait until you’re all ready and there will likely be a short period after the speeches/meal where the staff change the room around for dancing and you and your guests go to get some drinks and mingle. It normally takes around an hour for the band to set up, but only around ten to fifteen minutes of this is an actual sound check so it shouldn’t be too intrusive!
Can’t The Band Set Up Earlier?
A lot of bands are able to set up earlier if you need them to and they normally charge by the hour for this service. If this is something that you’re interested in, please ask your adviser at the time of booking, to help make sure you book a band who can arrive when you want!
Don’t worry if the added cost of an early arrival is a bit too much of a budget stretch. Bands are more than used to setting up in the same room as guests and are total pros when it comes to being as unobtrusive as possible.
7.00 – 7.30pm – Your Evening Guests Arrive
As more guests arrive at your venue, the party atmosphere will be building, so we’d suggest having your playlist belting out some bangers for those who want to hit the dance floor immediately (there’s always at least one!). For everyone else it will help to get them excited for your band or DJ and get those toes tapping! If you’ve hired a band, a playlist will normally be included in the price of your booking, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Just ask them to press play and get the party started!
7.30 – 8.00pm – Cut Your Cake
It’s normally best to do this relatively early on, once your evening guests have arrived. You might want to choose a song to play while you cut your cake to make it even more special!
8.00-9.30pm – It’s Time For Your First Dance And The Band!
Many couples are tempted to bring forward their first dance. This can be because they are a bit nervous about it and want to get it out of the way, or because they’re just too excited about it they can’t wait! Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s usually a good idea to wait until somewhere between 8pm and 9pm or later for your first dance, especially if you band is playing it for you, as they’ll start their first set immediately afterwards. Having your band start playing too early can result in a bit of a gap in between sets, or the band finishing earlier than you’d like, leaving the DJ service to finish off the night.
9.30pm – Eat!
Most couples tend to have their evening food available between the band’s sets. The playlist can come back on to keep spirits high for those who want to carry on dancing. We’d recommend leaving between half an hour and 45 minutes for people to eat before the band start up again. Top tip: Don’t serve food while the band are playing! Food is the one thing that’s likely to draw a lot people away from the dance floor!
10.15pm – The Band’s Second Set
It’s time for the band or DJ to shine with their second set, which is usually filled with huge songs that will undoubtedly keep your dance floor filled with guests demonstrating their best moves. If there’s one thing these professionals know how to do, it’s keep people dancing and having the time of their lives.
11.15pm – Playlist or DJ
If you’ve hired a band, they’ll put on the remainder of their playlist to finish the night off in style while they pack up. Some include a manned DJ option where a member of the band is on hand so you and your guests can make requests, if you’d like. If you’ve hired a DJ they’ll carry on until curfew, so no worries there!
Midnight – It’s The End (So Sad)
Some couples stick with tradition and leave before the rest of their guests, but we can confirm that this rarely happens these days, with couples preferring to dance right up until the end of their big day.
Most venues have a finish time of midnight, but if you’re one of the lucky few who have managed to secure one that will allow you to party into the early hours, many bands and DJs will offer a 1am finish. If this is a band, this normally involves the playlist playing for an extra hour, giving your guests more time on the dance floor. Some bands also offer extra sets that can sometimes be played after midnight. Check with your adviser before booking!
Remember – Go With The Flow!
These timings aren’t set in stone and were never designed to be. They are simply a rough guide to help you plan out your evening and give you some food for thought. If you’d like to hire a wedding band or DJ, take a look at the incredible wedding entertainment ideas on offer at Entertainment Nation to get your party started today!