Always put a real start time on your invitations.
If you’re planning to walk down the aisle at 7 p.m., the time on your invitations should be 7 p.m. I often hear brides or grooms say that their side of the family is always late so they listed the time on the invitations at 6:30 p.m. so they would be there by 7 p.m.
Woah!! Wait a minute! What about the people who show up on time at 6:30 p.m.?
It’s very rude to keep the guests who arrived at 6:30 p.m. waiting until 7 p.m. just because you want to make sure your side of the family doesn’t miss your grand entrance. Very rude. If someone is historically late… ask them to come early to help out with something before the ceremony begins.
Most guests know better than to show up right at the invitation time anyway, so if you put 6:30 for a 7 o’clock ceremony, some of your guests could be waiting around for as long as a half hour or more before the ceremony begins. It’s never a good idea to give guests a fake start time on the wedding invitations because you could end up with guests who arrive early sitting waiting for the ceremony to begin for put to an hour beforehand.
I perform wedding ceremonies in the Greater Phoenix area (The Valley of the Sun) so is is especially important for the ceremony to begin on time as most of my ceremonies are outdoors at major resorts and sometimes it can get rather warm (and sometimes… hot!).
You would be wise to not be too strict about beginning the ceremony at the “exact minute” listed on the invitations. If guests are still trickling in at that moment, give them a few extra minutes to get settled and take their seats. Anything past a 10-minute late start – in my opinion – is too late. I’ve also heard wedding coordinators at venues tell the brides and grooms to expect to start 15 to 20 minutes late. Not good.
Just as it’s rude to post a false start on your invitations it’s equally rude for guests to arrive late at a wedding. Guests should respect your schedule and know that the wedding starts at the time on the invitation. It is your guest’s responsibility to be on time to your wedding not your responsibility to make sure everyone is there at the start. I’ve received several invitations that list the time for the ceremony as: “7 p.m. Sharp!” to emphasize that the wedding will begin on time. Never feel trapped into waiting for people who may never show up.
Have your ushers tell guests to please seat as close to the front as possible for the benefit of the photos. You might want to cord off the last several rows for late-comers.
Conclusion: You should always start the wedding ceremony at the time indicated on the invitation. It all comes down to manners. Whatever you do, never put a fake time on your invitation.
BONUS Articles: PLEASE Be on Time! (for your own wedding!)
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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