How Long Do Wedding Bands Play

wedding couple dancingOnce you’ve booked the perfect live wedding band, its time to start outlining the schedule of events. When you include hair and makeup, photos, the ceremony, more photos, cocktail hour and reception, the entire day through night could be 8-12 hours. If you’re wondering where the live music fits in and how long they’ll play for, we’ll guide you though.

Bonus: We’ve included a sample wedding schedule with the band included.

Before The Wedding

The exact amount of time the band plays will vary, but it’s typically between 3-4 hours. CTO Bands play for 4 hours total as a ceremony and reception band package, with overtime prorated. In other cases, a wedding band will only play for 2 hours during the reception or they may require a 30 minute break.

If you’re looking at different musicians for the ceremony and reception, you’ll have to consider arrangements and set up times for each one separately. A professional wedding band company such as CTO will seamlessly organize the transition from one band to the next. Events that take place at Cescaphe Event Group Venues in Philadelphia have worked with CTO to provide live music for an hour and a half cocktail party that flows into a four and a half hour reception. That’s 6 hours total – at no extra charge!

Day of the Wedding

Factor in a few hours before the music needs to start for the production crew and band to arrive. For CTO, despite the fact that setup takes an hour, the production crew will arrive around three hours before to ensure everything is running smoothly. The band will arrive about one hour before showtime to prepare and perform a sound check. Digital consoles save the band’s settings so only slight adjustments need to be made, saving a significant amount of setup time. Please note, if the ceremony and reception are in the same location, plan for the production crew and band to arrive earlier to ensure everything is in order before the festivities begin.

After the Ceremony

Once the ceremony is over, the cocktail hour band is set and ready to go. After the hour is up, the full band is ready to seamlessly transition to the reception. CTO’s Band will be on stage ready to play for at least three hours straight. During breaks between dancing such as dinner and cake cutting, the band might transition to two musicians for less sound and can play quiet background music. This is entirely up to your preferences – all details will be discussed and planned in advanced with the band.

Sample Schedule

Brides.com has a great timeline of the entire day. Our schedule is focused on the band, with one hour planned for cocktails and three hours for the reception. Please note that every wedding is different, so it is best to coordinate with your situation.

  • 2:30 Production arrives for setup
  • 4:30 Band arrives for setup and soundcheck
  • 5:00 Ceremony
  • 5:45 Cocktail Hour
  • 6:45 Newlywed entrance
  • 6:55 First Dance
  • 7:00 Dinner (optional quiet background music)
  • 7:30 Back to dancing!
  • 9:40 Last Call
  • 9:45 Grand Exit

Weddings can run later or earlier than expected, so be prepared for potential changes in schedule. Taking into consideration the setup, breakdown, and performance time will give you the best idea of how much time needs to be allotted for the band. Coordinate with your entertainment group to make sure everything is set for your wedding day!

CTO Artists have been scheduling live music events for over 30 years. Select from our roster of professional bands, go low-key with a string quartet, or let one of our DJs do the spinning. Tell us about your event!