(Closed) Getting guests to arrive on time for the ceremony–any advice?

posted 6 years ago in Logistics
  • poll: What time should I tell guests the ceremony starts (actual time: 4:45pm)?
    4:30 : (7 votes)
    11 %
    4:45 : (22 votes)
    35 %
    other (please explain) : (32 votes)
    52 %
    other (please explain) : (1 votes)
    2 %
  • Post # 3
    3720 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2013

    We have something similar. Our venue is a very hard to drive venue (traffic, parking, and just difficult) and have no wiggle room due to time limitations. I have told all family through work of mouth and are asking family to meet up in a back room 45 minutes before the start of the ceremony. That will ensure they will be there :-). Then, this is what we put on our website:


    We will be having a formal Catholic ceremony with a full mass. We will be beginning right at 3pm and expect the ceremony to last approximately one hour.”

    Weddings normally start late, what time should we really show up? Due to weddings before ours and after ours, we need to be punctual. We ask you to please be at the church no later than 2:55 and the mass will start promptly at 3. If you get delayed, that is fine. Please just wait until the bridal party has entered the church before you enter and please use the side doors. 


    The reception is less than 3 miles from the ceremony venue; will it really take 15 minutes to get there? Yes, if you are lucky! Georgetown has horrible traffic, especially in the summer, and Arlington is not much better. In <>’s 5 years in DC she has driven in Georgetown exactly once– she recommends cabs or public transportation if driving in traffic stresses you.”



    Post # 4
    131 posts
    Blushing bee

    Is it possible to list it at 4.00 then telling those people who actually arrive on time that it is ok to be there at 4.30? I do not know if it is done, but I do it with very less formal occasions. 

    Post # 7
    4755 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    You should not lie to your guests you should budget the time into it.

    That means your write it starts at 5. But you PLAN (ie tell your vendors etc.) at 5:20-5:30.

    Post # 8
    2692 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2012

    I have the same issues with Fi’s family.  They are notorious for arriving to any event late… I mean like 2 hours late sometimes.  It is really annoying.  I know people will be late.  But some people will be on time as well.  I put on the website for guests to please arrive on time.  I also put that on the ceremony insert card that has the ceremony location and directions.  I plan to start the ceremony right at 3 barring any ‘mishaps’.  I was going to give people a 20 minute leeway by starting at 3:20 but we’ll play that by ear.  Depending on a few things, starting 20 minutes late could be good or set us back by a lot.

    Hoping too that I am not the reason for any tardiness. 

    Post # 9
    544 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2012

    Our invite states 5:15 ceremony; but our “internal” timeline has the ceremony starting btw 5:20 and 5:25 to allow for any last minute guests….the only thing that would delay the ceremony starting later is an MIA parent.

    Post # 10
    4478 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: November 2012

    This might not be practical, but could you have 4 pm on the invite to your relatives, and 4:30 for everyone else?  


    I went to a wedding this weekend where we the invite was half an hour before the ceremony.  People were able to mingle, and there was a table with limited drinks.  It was a nice way to spend the down time.

    Post # 11
    1252 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: November 2011

    I don’t think you should “punish” the considerate guests by making them sit around and wait just because other (presumably adults) can’t be trusted to arrive on time for a wedding.

    I’d just put 5:00 on the invite and include an insert with directions that states that the wedding will begin PROMPTLY at 5pm and advise guests to allow extra travel time for traffic, etc.  Anyone who doesn’t plan appropriately should be ashamed of themselves.

    If you do go with 4pm on your invitation I think you need to provide light refreshments for your polite guests that will arrive at 3:30.  Because if that happened to me I’d (a) be annoyed that you wasted my time, and (b) get back in my car and try to find a place to grab a drink for an hour. 

    Post # 12
    3886 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    @reebee:  +1

    Our event is on a boat, and when it’s time to go, we’re going— if you’re late, have a nice dinner at the restaurant near the docks.  We are making a very short list of people who we will wait for— basically one reader who has already told us about her challenging travel plans that morning, and immediate family (meaning parents and siblings, that’s it).  

    I think wording it that “ceremony begins at 5:00 pm sharp; we recommend arriving no later than 4:45 to ensure seating” or something similar should get the point across.  I agree that, as someone who is late to many things but always early to important things, I’d feel pretty annoyed if I arrived a half-hour before the time on the invite and had to camp out for an hour or more— especially if the venue is tightly booked and there’s nowhere for me to sit!

    Post # 13
    129 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: March 2013

    In my country, it’s customary to indicate that weddings start a half hour before they actually do. Otherwise, weddings would always start late. I would say you could do the same thing, but tell those guests who you think are responsible and that usually arrive on time, that you plan to start at 5. Telling them to arrive 1 hour before is too much time.

    Post # 14
    3773 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: December 1999

    I would list the time for when the cermony actually starts. If there are special travel considerations (Saturday football game, rush hour traffic) I have seen people include those. If people are late, they are late, but no need to punish those who are on time.

    Post # 15
    3265 posts
    Sugar bee

    I would be very upset to find that I had arrived at 3:40-3:45 for a ceremony that I thought started at 4, to find out it would really start at 5 or later.

    I would make it clear to guests that the 5 o’clock is the official time, and if they are late, that they will miss out.

    As long as people accomdate people who are rude, (being late is very rude) they never miss out, and never have to change their ways.


    Post # 16
    2104 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: November 1999

    @andielovesj:  I agree.

    If you put an earlier time on the invite, then I arrived to find out I had to wait an hour or two for the ceremony to start, I’d either wander around to find something to do or take off to find something to do… and I’d probably end up coming back late!  I’d definitely think unkindly on the bride that invited me to an event and told me to be there that early.  Only the wedding party needs to be there that far ahead of time.

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