How Long Do Wedding Bands Play For?

April 2020 | Jon Stephens

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  • Wedding Setlists

How long do live wedding bands perform for at a wedding?

 

Live-Wedding-Band-Flair-Performing

 

Wedding bands typically perform for 2 hours which is usually split into 2×1 hour sets or 3×40 minute sets. However, there are quite a few variations and some of them may suit your wedding more than others. These can include 2×45 minute, 3×60 minute, 3×45 minute or one 30 minute set followed by a 90-minute set. The choices and options are endless enabling you to fit your live band around your wedding schedule perfectly.

A typical day in the life of a wedding band

We’ve been part of the wedding entertainment world for 15 years now so we are a well-oiled machine when it comes to performing at weddings. Below is the typical schedule for our wedding bands come wedding day. When we say typical, we mean roughly 80% of weddings follow these timings year after year. DJ’ing or background music always follows the end of any live set and continues until the beginning of the next live sets with our acts. We can’t guarantee that for every wedding band out there though.

I’ve also put all this information in a handy infographic at the bottom of the guide. Let us know if you’d like a copy.

 

  • 4 pm: The band packs up and heads to your wedding. Woohoo!
  • 6 pm: They arrive at your wedding venue and unload their equipment.
  • 7 pm: All the equipment is set up and sound checked. Background music or DJ’ing then begins until the beginning of the first live set.
  • 8:30 pm: The band perform the first dance and then perform their first, 1-hour live set.
  • 10:30 pm: The band perform the second and final 1-hour live set.
  • 11:30 pm: The band finish their live set and DJ or play background music until 12 am.
  • 12 am: The band stop all music and begin to pack up equipment.
  • 1 am: The band leave your wedding venue and head home after another amazing wedding party!

Different timings to suit your wedding schedule

 

As mentioned, some couples prefer 3×40 minute or even 2×45 minute set times as it better suits their wedding schedule. 2×45 minute sets are pretty rare and usually follow similar timings to 2×1 hour sets so below I’ve only outlined the more common 3×40 minute schedule. Again, DJ’ing or background music always follows the end of any live set and continues until the beginning of the next live sets with our acts. We can’t guarantee that for every wedding band out there.

 

  • 4 pm: The band packs up and heads to your wedding. Woohoo!
  • 6 pm: They arrive at your wedding venue and unload their equipment.
  • 7 pm: All the equipment is set up and sound checked. Background music or DJ’ing then begins until the beginning of the first live set.
  • 8 pm: The band perform the first dance and then perform their first, 40-minute live set.
  • 9:20 pm: The band perform their second 40-minute live set.
  • 10:50 pm: The band perform the third and final 40-minute live set.
  • 11:30 pm: The band finish their live set and DJ or play background music until 12 am.
  • 12 am: The band stop all music and begin to pack up equipment.
  • 1 am: The band leave your wedding venue and head home after another amazing wedding party!

The pros and cons of 2×1 hour and 3×40 minute sets

 

We often get asked which set lengths we recommend so below are the pros and cons for the two most common set lengths. 2×45 minute sets aren’t nearly as common and are usually only needed if your wedding is running to a tight schedule. 2×45 minute sets also sit perfectly in-between the pro and cons of both 2×1 hour and 3×40 minute sets so there’s no need to cover them further. We’d all be here all day with me rambling on otherwise!

The pros of 2×1 hour live sets

 

We generally recommend 2×1 hour live sets as they work well within the usual timings of a wedding day and fit perfectly around the food you provide everyone in the evening. No one is going to dance on a stomach full of bacon butties, fancy cheeses or tasty wedding cake so the standard one hour gap between 2×1 hour sets where everyone can eat and relax works well. Only our act Stan Darsh (above) suggests special set times due to their unique live show.

Dutch courage

 

We’ve also found over the years, that a lot of us Brits need some liquid-based encouragement or simply need to see other people dancing before we feel comfortable stepping onto the dancefloor and busting some moves. An hour of live music gives everyone ample opportunity to drink down some Dutch courage, watch others dance and then strut themselves onto that dancefloor! In our experience, 1-hour sets encourage busy and exciting dancefloors, especially during the second set!

The cons of 2×1 hour live sets

 

The cons with 2×1 hour live sets are that there are only two opportunities to dance to live music during your wedding and the gap between the two sets can be seen as too long by some couples. Some people also find an hour of live music just a bit too long and loud for them, especially if they want to have a chat, relax or just mix things up a bit at the wedding.

The pros of 3×40 minute live sets

 

3×40 minute sets work really well if you want shorter but more regular bursts of live music throughout the evening as understandably, some people don’t like large breaks between live sets. It can also keep a wedding party feeling fun, varied and vibrant and gives people plenty of opportunities to have a dance. Blue Eclectic (above) are big fans of performing these kinds of sets.

The cons of 3×40 minute live sets

 

We regularly find that just as everyone has plucked up the courage to dance, our 40-minute set is coming to an end. It can be a real shame as we love to perform while people are dancing! 3×40 min sets can also give your wedding a bit of stop-start feeling plus if you have a busy wedding schedule, adding 3 live sets to the mix can make things very complicated.

Headless wedding chickens

 

In our experience, at least 70% of weddings run late and it usually becomes impossible to fit 3×40 minute sets into revised or packed schedules. We never like to see the venue managers or wedding planners frantically running around trying to cram everything in!

Also surprisingly, if your wedding band starts its 3×40 minute sets quite early and you want them to finish around 11:30 pm/12 am the gaps between the sets can end up being huge – sometimes well over an hour which can kill the party vibe a bit.

Go bespoke on how long your wedding band plays for

 

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily matter how long wedding bands play for because you can usually ask for bespoke live set timings and many wedding bands will accommodate.

Our bands will always try their best to fit around your ideas and wedding timings. You can see an example of some of the booking options we offer below and because of the unique way we work, we can design 100% bespoke wedding bands just for you.

Wedding-Booking-Options-Screenshot

How long do wedding bands play for – other options

Let’s go through a few other options you could include to totally alter when and how long a wedding band performs for.

Early arrival, late finish and extra live sets

 

Popular booking options with most wedding bands are early arrivals, late finishes and extra live sets. In the past we’ve arrived at weddings as early as 11 am, finished performing at 1 am or 2 am, performing 3×1 hour, 5×40 minute or even 4×1 hour live sets during that time.

These options often cost extra but they could be just what your wedding needs! We’ve had couples knowing they have dance hungry guests and the 3×1 hour live sets we performed for them went down an absolute treat! Just ask us for more information.

Afternoon acoustic wedding sets

 

Wedding bands usually only have to arrive early because the wedding venue stipulates it or because you’d like some acoustic music during the day. Whether it’s for your wedding ceremony, wedding reception, afternoon drinks or during your wedding breakfast, these live sets can add something very special to any wedding.

The acoustic details

Flowers-Live-Wedding-Band-Laughing

 

Usually, in the form of 2×30 minute live sets, acoustic wedding music is a very popular booking option here at Seventh Second. Most of our wedding bands like Flowers (above) double as acoustic wedding solo, duos or trios and offer discounts when you add the acoustic performance option to a booking.

Specialist acts such as Rae (below) shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes acoustic wedding reception music and booking two separate acts is often the best way to have live wedding music performed when and where you want it during your wedding. You can learn all about all this in our guide here.

 

 

The wedding superset!

 

We love a superset at Seventh Second. It’s usually an hour and a half of riotous, fun-filled dance mad live music. As mentioned, at least 70% of wedding run late and sometimes there simply isn’t time to perform the planned 3×40 minute or 2×1 hour live sets. We don’t like to get bogged down by this and instead offer up our superset option to the new Mr and Mrs. It’s one non-stop set where we perform for as long as possible in the time remaining before the music has to be switched off and it typically works out at an hour and a half.

That’s one packed dancefloor!

 

When everyone knows that the wedding band is only going to perform once, they get up on that dancefloor and as soon as you are up there, your guests will be too so supersets can be some of the most fun had at a wedding! Some bride and grooms ask for them as standard and many, many wide-eyed, smiling couples have come up to us after a hectic, delayed wedding day so happy with the superset that got everyone dancing and having boundless fun. Supersets can be the perfect stress reliever and sometimes the ideal way to end a beautiful wedding.

If you want a live wedding band that will fill your dancefloor check out our guide here.

Live wedding band DJ masterclass

 

Many couples ask what our wedding bands offer between their live sets. This is an important question and can affect how long wedding bands play for too. All our acts offer background music and can DJ for you for free as part of a special booking offer. 

Live-Wedding-Band-DJ

Don’t let the wedding music stop!

 

We can’t guarantee that other wedding bands offer this service but with our bands it means that no matter what set times and lengths you pick, the music will never stop and your wedding party will keep being brilliant! It’s something to think about, especially if you have long gaps between live sets or were wondering what music you would play during the wedding breakfast, speeches, before the first dance or as people leave at the end of the night.

A few other things to consider with your wedding band

 

At this point, I’d be stupid not to point out our guide on hiring a wedding band but there are also a few more tips I’d like to pass onto you so you know exactly how long and when you want your wedding band performing for you.

This interesting study on how different types of live music can alter your mood, emotions and even your vision is worth a read and shows how important the right music at the right time is!

Early live wedding band music

 

Provided you can decide your wedding schedule, we always recommend regardless of whether they plan to perform 2×1 hour or 3×40 min sets, wedding bands don’t start performing too early. Unless you do want them to start early or your wedding finishes early, we find that guests usually aren’t ready for dancing until at least 8 pm. This is usually because you’ve all only recently finished the wedding breakfast and as mentioned earlier, your guests maybe haven’t had time to enjoy some Dutch courage!  We’ve been lucky enough to perform at thousands of seemly quiet weddings that totally transformed into wild weddings once everyone had a drink, a chat and it was late enough!

I don’t want the live music to stop

 

If a band starts performing their two hours of music early and you still want them to finish at 11:30 pm, 12 am or later, it will mean large gaps between live sets which can leave you all feeling like you have to wait too long for more great live music.

Even with background or DJ’ed wedding music in between sets, no one wants to bring the party atmosphere down a fraction or wait too long for live music! It’s something to consider and you might find our guide on wedding DJ’s and live bands helpful right now too.

 

Dancing-All-Night-Wedding-Marquee

Don’t wait all night!

 

Conversely, we also see many a shy wedding guest waiting too long to get on that dancefloor and either missing out altogether or only getting to dance to a song or two. None of the musicians here at Seventh Second likes to see that so make sure you and your guests don’t get up and dance too late!

Wedding venues have rules

 

90% of wedding venues only allow live music up until 12 am latest so despite what many a drunk and excited guest has said to us over the years, no, we can’t just keep performing and ignoring the rules of the venue! The venue could lose their music license and we could be banned from the venue or given an awful review! Don’t miss out on the wedding band and get up on that dancefloor early!

Wedding venue limitations

 

We go into more detail on wedding venue rules and regulations here but how long a wedding band performs can also be dictated by a wedding venues closing times, live music license restrictions and sound restrictions or limiters. It’s well worth checking all this with your venue and band so you get the maximum out of your live wedding band!

A funny tale from a fun little wedding

Live-Wedding-Band-Usual-Suspects

 

I thought I’d end this guide with a fun wedding story. Bride, groom, guests and us the band (above) all had a lovely time at this wedding but we all admitted that the wedding ran behind schedule to the extreme!

“After setting up for 7 pm – ready for 2×1 hour live sets starting at 8:30, the venue’s staff notified us that the wedding breakfast and speeches were all running late. It was an intimate wedding of 50 people so we weren’t too concerned. Delays are common at weddings and how late could it run with 50 people involved? Well, very late in this case. In the time we had to wait to perform we managed to watch a whole England international football game on a tv provided by the helpful staff!”

The wedding band is starting to worry…

 

“With the wedding having to finish at 12 am and the time now 10:30 pm, we were starting to get a little jittery and I was in constant contact with the staff waiting to know the moment speeches came to an end and we could perform. In the end, we managed to perform the first dance and a few songs in the 20 minutes we had left to perform. Our set ran from 11:40 pm until 12 am. The shortest wedding set anyone at Seventh Second has ever performed and one for the memory books!”

To this day, we’re still not sure how a wedding of 50 people could spend almost 5 hours eating and giving speeches but it was a fun time for all at the end of the day!


A handy infographic

As promised, here’s a handy infographic on how long wedding bands play for.

How-Long-Do-Wedding-Bands-Play-For-Infographic-1

 

 

How-Long-Do-Wedding-Bands-Play-For-Infographic-2

 

I hope this guide has proved useful for you and your wedding. If you feel we’ve missed anything or if you have any questions or comments please contact us

If you like the look of any of our wedding bands you can enquire in the top right-hand corner. All of us at Seventh Second look forward to hopefully performing at your wedding in the future!

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Until next time!

Jon and the boys and girls at Seventh Second



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