(Closed) Ceremony time on invitation vs. actual start time

posted 9 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
497 posts
Helper bee

Guests should know that the wedding starts at the time on the invitation.  However, MANY people feel that weddings always start late, so they never expect to walk in at exactly 5:30 and have missed the bride walking down the aisle.  While it is frustrating, I recommend waiting a few moments after 5:30 to start…I was adamant about starting on time and it turns out some people had gotten lost on the way and had I just waited a few moments they wouldn’t have missed the beginning of the wedding.



Post # 4
2819 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

Hmm…tough call. Are the people on your guest list the type who usually show up JUST as the clock hits 5:30, or are they the ones who will arrive half an hour to 15 minutes early? (FYI, I’m the second type.)

If the majority of people are in the first category, consider putting "ceremony starts at 5:00" on your invites. Alternatively, you could say "ceremony start time is 5:30" and then below "please arrive 15 minutes early to allow time for parking/seating/etc.". =)

If, on the other hand, most of the group is in the second category, you’re probably safe putting the time as 5:30.

(To be completely safe with the whole "happy medium thing", though, it’s probably best to put the start time as 5:30, and specify that you’d like people to arrive early. And of course make sure that all the important people are there before you start the ceremony.)

Post # 5
81 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I agree with Jenniphyr. Put the true start time and mitigate lateness with a little note on the directons card. I wrote, please allow time for traffic, since the wedding is in los angeles. And then, unfortunately, I would be prepared to start a little late as well. 

Post # 6
2856 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

Well because most of my family are really never on time we chose to put 4:00pm on the invites but the ceremony probably won’t officially start until 4:30pm. We are expecting over 200 + people so it was just safer to play it that way. I have to tell you though that my Mom and I went back and forth on this issue (not fighting just thinking).

Good luck!

Post # 7
1156 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2005 - Westside Loft, New York

We started about 15 minutes later than the time on the invitation.  I think most weddings start about 15 min late, but guests should try to arrive before the time on the invitation.  The one time I was late to a ceremony, it started right on time! 

Post # 8
2324 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

I would put the start time that you want it to start. Please do not put something earlier just because a couple of people are rude and show up late. We are the type of people who show up 10-15 minutes early for a wedding, so then we would be 45 minutes early and I was be peeved. You just need to have some one check and see how the church looks at the start time and you can always hold the ceremony 10 or 15 minutes if people aren’t there. Also, I highly doubt you’ll be on time the day off. It almost NEVER happens. 🙂

Post # 9
5 posts

I’ve attended/planned/worked over 100 weddings, and only once have I had an on-time start, at my OWN wedding! (when I wasn’t even ready! My fault for being too laid-back about the "schedule"….I’d done so many weddings at that point, I just didn’t CARE)

Most weddings I run start 10-15 minutes late.This just allows for guests running late, etc.

I did recently have one bride who arrived two HOURS LATE to the venue. We thought she had possibly skipped out on the groom, as no one could find her, her photographer, and her entire bridal party had turned their phones off. Turns out they had decided to have one last-minute shopping spree at Neiman Marcus before coming to the wedding (yes, IN HER WEDDING DRESS!!!)

I had been hired by the groom’s family to "run" this ceremony/reception at the last minute, and haven’t ever come across such a diva bride before! Her single conversation with me was to yell that her cake was leaning (bad choice of bakery), and that half her guests weren’t there (people left thinking the wedding wasn’t going to happen. The DJ was actually starting to pack up when her limo pulled up!). Total insanity!!

But generally, I tell my brides to put a start time ON the invitation, but actually "plan" a time 15-min later, because people are ALWAYS late. If YOUput 1pm on your invite, but "plan" to start at 1:15, then you won’t be running late, does that make sense?

Good luck on your big day! It also helps having someone (a professional, a friend, a parent) to be "in charge" of keeping the bridal party in line, keeping everyone moving before the wedding, and making sure they stick to the "schedule". I pass out a timeline at the rehersal to the bridal party, and give everyone a stern talk about how important it is to the Bride & Groom to be on time, not be late, and they chose you to share their day, please respect them and be on time!!! ANd if the bride is running late…so be it! (but just don’t run two hours late…unless it’s unavoidable. Shopping trips in your bridal gown isn’t a good excuse for starting late!!!)

The stories!! =)

Post # 10
997 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2010 - The Pierre Hotel

According to the coordinator at our venue, for the weddings that they’ve worked on the ceremony starts a half hour after the stated invitation time.  So our invitation will state a 6pm start time, our actual ceremony will start at 6:30pm, and we will be serving "light refreshments" (sparkling water and juices) from 6-6:30pm.

This way, the latecomers hopefully will still make it in time for the ceremony, and the punctual people will have some beverages to keep them entertained.

Apparently, this setup must be quite common in NYC, because (also according to our venue coordinator), some people are so aware of this scheduling that they’d still show up at 6:25pm knowing the reception at 6:30.  Tricky!

Post # 11
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

We put 6pm on the invitations, but will likely start 6:10-6:15ish.  This will allow for anyone running late and also the venue wants cocktail hour to start at 6:30.  The ceremony is about 15-20 mins.

Post # 12
2365 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Hmm I never thought about this. In my family everyone is always running late .. haha.

Our ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 pm. Although I really wouldn’t mind if things ran a little behind because the reception isn’t scheduled to begin until 7, which is right after the ceremony is over. 

Our ceremony will be a short catholic one with no mass, and is 3 blocks from the reception venue! The msgr. said it would be 35 minutes long, so if it runs behind I guess we’ll be perfect time- wise.

Post # 13
174 posts
Blushing bee

We put the actual start time on our invites, althought I’m sure we won’t start on time. In fact, I plan to be flexible up to starting 15 minutes late to allow our guests to be seated. If everyone is there on-time then fabulous, we’ll start on time.

My Future Mother-In-Law, who has a tendency to speak before thinking, said to me, "if the bride isn’t walking down the aisle at the start time everyone assumes she’s bolted." Um, yeah, right lady. (silently repeating in my head, I love your son, I love your son, I love your son…)

Post # 14
81 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

Runningbee – made me laugh!!! 

Post # 15
84 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

I want to start at 6:00 on. the. nose.  So to help communicate this I wrote "ceremony will begin promptly at 6:00 pm" on the invites.  Hopefully it will work!

Our coordinator at the hotel said she locks all of the side dors of the ballroom except for the one in the way back and she seats anyone who arrives late (to ensure that it is not as I am walking down the aisle).  I was also thinking of making a cute sign that says something like "opps- it’s after 6!  please see Adrienne at the right to seat you" 

Post # 16
99 posts
Worker bee

I recently attended a Jewish wedding where the invitation read:

5:30pm Badekan (veiling the bride)

Ceremony promptly at 6

Badekan is a private pre-wedding ritual, but I thought the "promptly" made it REALLY clear that it would start right on time.  I didn’t see any stragglers. 


The topic ‘Ceremony time on invitation vs. actual start time’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors