A Guide To Planning Your Wedding Day Timings: Evening Reception, First Dance & Entertainment
Tailored Entertainment
Author: Tailored Entertainment

Contributions to The Tailored Guide from our expert team of booking agents and music managers at HQ!

A Guide To Planning Your Wedding Day Timings: Evening Reception, First Dance & Entertainment

If you’re wondering when things should happen at your evening reception, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Tailored Entertainment look after over 2000 bookings a year — as one of the only entertainment agencies who offer a dedicated coordinator who’ll be on hand in the run up to your day, we’ve drawn on their expertise to put together this guide on how an evening reception can run.

A schedule is important to make sure that everything runs smoothly on the day, so that you (and the band!) know what’s happening and when. That said, no matter how well-planned things are, things won’t always happen as expected! A good wedding band will be adaptable on the night, and the main thing is that you have a fantastic time, rather than making sure things start precisely on time. So please take these as loose suggestions rather than firm timings.

I’ll run over an example evening reception schedule below to give you an idea of what works well. Every night is different, so your timings might end up different to these — or maybe your circumstances are different, you might have booked an act who are also performing daytime music, or you’ve got a DJ coming instead? These timings should still help as a rough starting point you can jump off from.

If you’re considering booking a wedding band (or if you already have) and you’ve got some questions about timings, give us a call on 0800 564 2240, we’d be very happy to chat things through!

Sunny Side Up - Wedding Band

5:00pm - The band arrives

You’ll probably be having your wedding breakfast when the band arrive. There will usually be somebody from your venue available to greet them and show them where to go, and they’ll start setting everything up for your day.

The set up times vary from band to band, but most acts on our roster require 90 minutes in order to unload, set up and soundcheck. They do this totally discreetly, and guests won’t know they’re there under the buzz of conversation, so even if you’re having everything in one room the set up will still go smoothly.

You might be having your speeches at around 6:00pm onwards? If so, the band can pause whatever they’re doing for speeches, and they can continue setting up afterwards.

The standard package for most of our bands includes a 5:00pm arrival — if you or your venue require a band to be on site any earlier, please just let us know. We can check the band’s availability and adjust things as needed.

6:30pm - The band soundcheck

A lot of people wonder how a soundcheck actually, well, sounds! It’s essentially when a band plays snippets of songs at performance volume, tweaking their sound levels to ensure that when they play for you, it sounds great! It’s a necessary part of their set up, and without it they can end up sounding quite weird or off.

Quite often bands perform their soundcheck when a venue turns a room around ready for the dancing to begin, but guests don’t always need to be out of the way. We just recently had some feedback for One Big Reunion that guests couldn’t help but get dancing during the soundcheck!

A Guide To Planning Your Wedding Day Timings: Evening Reception, First Dance & Entertainment

7:00pm - Evening guests arrive

As more people turn up, there’ll be more conversations, people getting drinks, and inevitably a few who already want to hit the dance floor! Our bands all offer a pre-mixed playlist service as standard, which is where they’ll play music through their sound system when not performing live. This can even be a playlist you’ve created yourself, so you get to hear all your favourites on the night, even if they’re not on the band’s song list. They can have this on from the moment they’ve completed their soundcheck, so you won’t be left with silence as evening guests arrive, and those who want to get stuck in can!

We’d recommend you allow plenty of space after the time you’ve put on your invite, for those few guests who get stuck in traffic, or just turn up fashionably late.

8:00pm - Cutting the cake, having your first dance, and the band beginning!

It’s time for the evening reception! We’d recommend cutting your cake a couple of minutes before you’d like your first dance. Guests will gather round to watch, so they’ll all be grouped ready to be invited over to the dance floor.

If you’re feeling nervous about the first dance, you might be thinking about having it earlier, but we always find it works best to have it around 8:00pm. It works really well to have the first dance and then segue straight into the band’s first live set. The band can invite guests to join you on the dance floor so you’re not dancing alone!

Then the band will kick off their first live set, and the party’s started! Most bands on our roster offer 2 x 60 minute live sets, which we’d recommend — or they can play 3 x 40 minute live sets if you have other timings for them to work around.

A Guide To Planning Your Wedding Day Timings: Evening Reception, First Dance & Entertainment

9:00pm - Time for food!

Guests will probably be getting peckish by the time the band’s first set is over, so this is a great opportunity to bring out your evening food. The band can announce this as they end their set, and everyone, including the band, can head on over to refuel.

We find that having a break of about 30 - 45 minutes works well, it gives people plenty of time to relax. The band will have the playlist on through their sound system, so so those who want to keep dancing can!

9:45pm - Second set

When the band come on for their second set, it’s really time to dance! It’ll be deeper into the night, everyone will be more relaxed, and everyone’s ready to just have an amazing party. The second set will be packed full of dance floor fillers, and they’ll put on an amazing show right the way until the band’s encore.

10:45pm - Dance the night away

The band may be over, but the party isn’t! Our bands come with a midnight latest finish as standard, so they’ll keep the music running through their sound system and keep the dance floor full. Some of our bands also offer a ‘band member to DJ live’ upgrade, where a member of the band will be acting as a DJ on the night.

We’d recommend not ending the night with the band’s live performance. It might sound great in theory, but in practice as home time approaches, some guests will be heading off early, so you’ll probably spend the last half hour saying goodbyes to them all. Better to end on the pre-recorded music rather than miss any of the band’s performance! It also gives a natural time for the night to wind down.

A Guide To Planning Your Wedding Day Timings: Evening Reception, First Dance & Entertainment

12:00am - The End

It’s been an amazing night, but now it’s time to finally wind down, say your last goodbyes, and have a good sit down after a long night of dancing! The finish time listed on the contract is when our acts will start packing down, not the time they have to be off-site by, so the party can keep going right up until that finish.

They’ll start packing everything down come midnight as your guests head off, and they’ll be leaving themselves roughly an hour later.

Most venues have a midnight latest finish, but you might have a late licence to keep the party going until 1am, or possibly even later! Please mention this to our booking agents if so, and we can make sure to include this in a quote for you.


We hope this helped you with an idea for how your evening should run! If you book an act through us, you’ll have one of our dedicated event coordinators on hand every step of the way. They’ll be in touch about 8 weeks in advance to finalise the details and tailor the timings of your night.

If you have any questions about your night specifically, please get in touch! If you’re curious about booking a band through us, or if you already have booked, send us an email to info@tailored-entertainment.com, or give us a call on 0800 564 2240!

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