Live Wedding Music Essex

Weddings - a guide to evening schedules & how the first dance works.

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Many wedding couples ask us to suggest a timing schedule for their evening reception. Although every wedding is different it's reassuring to know that live wedding entertainment such as discos and live bands are probably the most flexible of all wedding services. You'll find that many bands offer either two sets of an hour or three sets of 45 minutes but even if you have the timings planned with military precision they can still be adapted 'on the fly' if needed. All EMA's wedding musicians appreciate that timings need to be flexible and that they need to fit around buffets, hog roasts, throwing of the bouquets, impromptu additional speeches and even firework displays.

Many wedding venues insist the music stops at Midnight, so it’s a good idea to work the timings back from this point. 

If you have your wedding venue until Midnight then from experience we find the most common time for evening guests to arrive is around 7 to 7:30pm. No doubt newly-weds will want to greet new arrivals (and vice versa) and not everyone will be there promptly. Guests like to get their bearing, find the bar and hook up with people they know so there is little point for the band to start their first set this early. At this time the live band or DJ would be playing mid volume, mid tempo music CD music. From about 8pm the music can slowly increase in tempo to start building the atmosphere which is also a great time to start announcing the upcoming first dance. During the winter months you will always find people dancing early as there will already be a lot of bustle with everyone indoors. During the summer months guests do like to make the most of warm evenings and a perfect job for the ushers will be to encourage guests back indoors ready for the first dance. Regardless of the time of year 8:15 to 8:30pm seems to be the most popular time to do the first dance.

The first dance is the first dance the couple do together as husband and wife, NOT the first dance of the evening as people will always be wanting to dance prior to this. A nice idea is to cut the cake (even moving the cake to the dancefloor) and then immediately go into the first dance as this encourages guests in from the garden on warmer evenings (without too many separate announcements). That way everyone is present, everyone cheers in support and it makes for great photos with all your friends and family in the background. Some couples prefer to take to the dance floor alone but others who are less confident like to hide amongst the crowd and may wish everyone else to join in at the earliest opportunity. By following the first dance with another slow song it allows the Bride and Groom to dance with parents or relatives. At this time everyone should be on the dance floor then you can up the tempo and party! Our own wedding discos (EMA Discos) exceed at keeping people on the dancefloor from then on! If you are having a live party band then the first dance is the perfect first song for them to start with. If you prefer to have the original version of a song for your first dance then the band would be in position and introduce this from CD then jump straight into their first live set.  

A disco can play continuously from start to finish, whereas a band would commonly perform three sets of 45 minutes or two sets of an hour (with disco music in-between). 8:30pm is a great time for a band to start as the buffet can be presented at 9:15. By allowing 45 minutes for the buffet the band can resume at 10pm. With a shorter break at 10:45 they can resume at 11:15 and see you through to Midnight. It’s a nice idea to end the evening on a well-known song that everyone can sing along to. A big circle or arch gives the Bride and Groom a great sending off. 

Therefore as a rough guide which can easily be shunted backwards or forwards

  • End of speeches/wedding breakfast, band or disco puts on mid tempo music (if already set-up) while tables are cleared etc. 
  • 7-7:30pm - Evening guests arrive
  • 8pm - Atmosphere slowly builds, DJ or band liases with the couple, photographers, videographer and announcements made 
  • 8:30 - 9:15pm - First dance, band live set 1 
  • 9:15 - 10pm - Buffet/band break and provide disco music (or DJ continues)
  • 10 - 10:45 - Band live set 2
  • 10:45 - 11:15 - Band break and provide disco music (or DJ continues) 
  • 11:15 - Midnight - Band live set 3

If you've got lots of children present then we find a lot of parents disappear with them at around 10pm. In these cases we suggest the band starts earlier with shorter breaks so more people see the live music. They would then finish the evening on disco music. In contrast if you have your venue until 1am then it makes sense to have the buffet then start the band afterwards at around 9pm and space the live sets out accordingly.  

If you've got any questrions, feel welcome to call us on (01621) 744388 we've seen it all!