How to best schedule your Wedding Reception timings

Do you need help working out the best timings for your wedding reception? Wondering what schedule works best to ensure maximum enjoyment for your wedding guests? Need to plan your live music around your wedding DJ, Cutting Of The Cake, First Dance, buffet etc? Read on…

With experience planning over 400 successful wedding receptions, 12th Generation Wedding And Party Band know a thing or two about scheduling! First thing to say is that timings should be flexible – this is the number 1 rule to planning any public event. There’s no point sticking rigidly to your 8:30pm First Dance if the Groom is still in the queue for a shot of Dutch Courage or Grandma has passed out from too much Sherry!

The reception should be a relaxed and enjoyable occasion. The majority of formalities are out of the way, the pressure is off and it’s time to party. So if timings happen to be 10 minutes behind, don’t panic! An experienced band/DJ will pretty much be running things at this point of the day and they’ll be able to judge the room and get things flowing. If you have a live band playing then they’ll be on standby for when you need them, even if it does happen to be 30 minutes or so later than you’d originally planned.

So, with this in mind, here’s a rough schedule which should help with your plans – we’ve based this around a live band, because let’s be honest, successful weddings always have a live band and if you don’t have one… then you still have time to book a great live band for your wedding!

6pm – Your wedding breakfast should be finished around now. Your live band/DJ should be onsite and ready to start setting up. Family and friends should use this time to catch up with people they might not have had a chance to talk to during the busy wedding day.

7:30pm – This is around the time your evening guests will arrive. Your DJ should get some music on at this point, but nothing too heavy. Over the next hour the atmosphere should build. The lights should be lowered and the music should increase in volume and energy in anticipation for the Cutting Of The Cake and First Dance

8:30pm – Cutting Of The Cake! Your bandleader or DJ should ensure all guests are gathered around, cameras at the ready – it can take a surprisingly long time to get everyone together for this, particularly in larger venues, but don’t worry. As Bride and Groom you should sit back and relax until everyone is in place. Remember, it’s your day and you shouldn’t have to wait for anyone!

cutting the cake

8:45pm – First Dance – this should immediately follow the Cutting Of The Cake. You want all your friends and family gathered around the dance-floor. When your First Dance has finished the band should kick straight into the first live song and everyone should join you both on the dance-floor. Some Brides and Grooms like the band/DJ to invite couples up to dance with them around halfway through the First Dance, and this always transitions well into the live sets. Don’t forget to read our blog Advice On Choosing Your Wedding First Dance.


8:50pm – First Live Set from the band – now the party really starts! With all your guests close to the dance-floor, a decent band shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to get everyone up and dancing. 12th Generation Wedding and Party Band always kick off with an uptempo song so the night starts with a band. Click here to see some great live footage of a live wedding band performing.

9:40pm – Buffet – pretty self explanatory! Time to eat :-) Your band should not be playing whilst the food is out, so this is when the music is passed back to your DJ and the band take a well deserved break after an energetic first set.

10:30pm – Second Live Set from the band – no need for the band to rush back. A good pro band will get back onstage when the time is right. All guests should have finished eating, glasses should be refreshed and everyone should be ready for a HUGE second set of live party music!

11:20pm – DJ until close. We recommend weddings finish around 12/12:30am. Remember, it’s an incredibly long day, particularly for the Bride and Groom. It’s better to end with all your guests still having fun and shouting for more rather than a few drunken hard cores falling around the dance-floor at 2am, badgering the DJ for club hits from the early 90s! A good DJ will ensure the last few songs are big singalong numbers; all the guests will be gathered around the Bride and Groom on the dance-floor. This is a very special and often emotional moment for everyone, so make the most of it! The DJ will have planned this moment and will have coordinated with the venue staff to ensure the lights go up to a big round of applause at the end of the final song.

We really hope this blog post helps when planning your Wedding Reception. Just remember, your Wedding Reception is all about fun! So, if things are running behind, just relax! A professional live wedding band and DJ can work around your schedule on the fly to make sure your evening runs smoothly and is great fun for you and your guests.

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12th Generation Wedding And Party Band xxx

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