How long does a wedding band play for?

3rd February 2022

When planning your wedding day, timing is a critical component to consider in ensuring the day is a success. Accurately planning how long each part of your day will take and where to fit different aspects in will have a considerable effect on how stressed you are and the enjoyment of your guests. 

A wedding band will usually play for 2 x 45 minute sets between 8pm and 11pm with a break of 30 to 45 minutes between the two sets. Acoustic musicians such (solo, duo’s or trios) are usually booked to play earlier in the day around 3/4pm during the drinks reception and might perform 2 x 45 minute sets or 1 x 90 minute set without a break to fibetween the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.

What do I need to consider when planning live music?

If you are booking live music for any part of your wedding day then there are a few important considerations to make regarding times which are…

  • What time do you want the live music to start and end?
  • How long does the band play for?
  • How long will the band need to set up and will the band have time to set up in the space?
  • What time the band will eat (if this is part of your agreement)
  • What time will the band need to arrive?

We would advise you to think about these points in the order above as it will help you to easily plan how the musicians fit into your day.

The answers to these questions will depend on what part of the day you are having live music, the size of the band, the amount of equipment they bring and other factors such as if you are hiring a separate AV team or DJ.

What time do you want the live music to start and end?

A wedding band booked for the evening reception will usually play 2 x 45 minute sets with the first set starting after the cutting of the cake around 8pm and ending around 11pm with a DJ or a spotify playlist continuing the dancing up until the midnight curfew that most wedding venues impose. Audiences usually want more music after the excitement of a live band so it works well for the band to finish playing at around 11pm and the DJ to finish the night.

In the event that the day has run late (as is often the case) the band can usually push their sets together and play 90 minutes without a break.

If you have hired a venue with a later curfew or no curfew at all then you can negotiate a later finish with the band that might also include an extra set.

An acoustic duo or trio booked to play during the drinks reception will often play 2 x 45 minutes or 1 x 90 minute set from 3pm or 4pm through to the wedding breakfast at 5:30pm. It’s always good to give the band at least a short break if possible so that they singer can rest their voice.

wedding band musicians for hire
wedding band musicians for hire

How long does the band play for?

Wedding bands usually divide their performances up into 45 to 50 minute sets and perform live music for a total of 90 to 100 minutes in total. Around 90 minutes of live music is a good length for a wedding finishing at midnight as it means that guests have time to mingle, eat, order drinks and build up the courage to dance.

Some bands will offer up to 60 minutes per set or extra sets as an optional extra for weddings where there’s a late curfew or the bride and groom are particularly fond of live music. 

The good news about booking extra sets for wedding parties that finish later is that because the band is already at your wedding the chances are you will get a fairly hefty discount on that extra hour of live music.

How long will the band need to set up and will the band have time to set up in the space?

It’s easy to forget that the band will need a considerable amount of time to set up depending on the size of their set up. Most professional bands booked to perform at an evening party can go from an empty room to fully set up and sound checked in around 60-90 minutes. 

If the band for the evening are performing in the same room as the wedding breakfast then the band will usually set up after the speeches at the end of the wedding breakfast at around 6/6:30pm. It’s common for guests to leave the main reception room or area for drinks in the bar and this provides the perfect opportunity for the band to set up and be ready for 8pm.

An acoustic duo performing at the drinks reception can achieve this in 30 to 45 minutes because they have less equipment.

What time the band will eat (if this is part of your agreement)?

Professional wedding musicians usually include a request for 1 hot meal per member as part of their standard contract, mainly because they will be at the venue from 6pm and finish packing up after midnight without chance to head out for food. It’s a good idea to plan for the band to eat either on arrival or before their first set after they have set up the equipment.

What time will the band need to arrive?

Acoustic duos booked for music at the afternoon drinks receptions will usually aim to arrive around 60 to 90 minutes before they are due to perform which gives them time to set up, sound check and get changed into their stage clothes. 

A band booked to play the evening music will usually aim to arrive around 6pm to 6:30pm so that they have time to set up the equipment, sound check, eat and get changed into stage clothes before the cutting of the cake and first dance around 8pm.

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