Your Wedding Guests (Put them in the know!)

Weddings are stressful enough! Read through this quick article to find common questions that might arrise when you invite actual people to your wedding!

What time should I put on their wedding invitations?

I have been a parking attendant for dozens of weddings and guests follow the bell curve when it comes to writing for your wedding.  Some arriving hour early and some arrive 10 minutes late. So, what time when should you put on your wedding invitations?

Invitations should have the time that your ceremony begins.  This will allow the majority of guests to plan accordingly so they arrive before your event, but your guests won’t be upset that your ceremony is running behind schedule.

Being a parking attendant for a premier outdoor venue has given me a firsthand look on the behavior of cars & guests arriving.  I’m glad to be sharing you the information I have learned over the years.

When is the best time to start a ceremony?

While, there is no right or wrong answer as to when a wedding ceremony starts, you might want to consider the next few suggestions.

The best time to start a wedding ceremony is 1 hour before your reception begins. If you are doing a luncheon, the time would be 10 or 11 am. If your wedding includes a full dinner service, your ceremony might be scheduled at 3 or 4 pm.

The location and type of venue might impact your start time. If it is going to be a hot summer day in a beautiful field, you might consider a later ceremony. However, if you plan to have an indoor ceremony in the city, you might want to consider any large events surrounding your event for traffic or parking concerns.

What happens when a guest arrives late to a wedding

I have seen the frantic guests, dressed nice, trying to find their way to the ceremony. It happens all the time. A good venue will discuss what you want done with guests who enter late.

Typcally, when a guest arrives late to a wedding, they are quietly ushered to the pack of the ceremony. Venue employees might hold back the guests until the precession line has ended. If the venue is outdoors, the vehicle might be stopped at the gate to quite the engine and avoid distractions.

Guests arrive on a bell curve, 5% of your guests arrive up to an hour early, 5% of your guests may arrive right on time or slightly after your scheduled time but the other 90% arrive between 15-30 minutes early. The number of guests arriving late is relatively small and the majority of guests shouldvn’t have to wait because of a few tardy attendees.

Should I put an arrival time on my invitations?

There may be times when a ceremony start time and an arrival time would be helpful for your guests.

You should only put a different arrival time on your invitations if there is a purpose. Prewedding cocktails might be a reason to have an arrival time on your invitation, however, this could be confusing for guests and should be avoided if possible.

While some coordinators and websites suggest having a fake start time, we don’t suggest that except for certain circumstances. One circumstance could be for venues with long drives or a long walk or shuttle to the ceremony from the parking lot.  Have entertainment and shade for guests who will arrive early.  This allows enough time to funnel cars into the parking lot, allow guests a chance to find their seat, and account for any late arrivals.

Should I put an end time on my invitations

There are several etticit rules for your wedding, but worry about some of the little questions that pop up from tieme to time. (no pun intented)

You do not need to put a reception end time on your wedding invitations. Your DJ and program will have the schedule of events and will give your guests plenty of notice. If you are having a short and sweet ceremony or reception, label it as such on your invitation, but it isn’t necessary to have a start and end time listed.

I have actually been to a wedding where the guests were so involved with the live band, the venue was rented for an extra hour or two! Of course, this might not be in your budget, but it is something to keep in mind.

Do weddings really start on time?

There seems to be a statement going around that weddings never start on time. It really puts an emphasis on fashionably late.

25% of weddings start right on schedule. 75% of wedding ceremonies are about 10 minutes behind schedule. While this is often the case, it shouldn’t be the plan. There are many variables with starting a wedding ceremony and just one delay can cause a ripple effect.

Guests and the bride should plan for the wedding to start on time. This will help the mood and flow move forward as planned. Though, a small delay is very typical and shouldn’t be the cause of any stress.

What do you do when a guest is late?

I have witnessed the frantic family of 4, driving down the venue’s lane about 1.5 minutes after the presession has begun. It does happen! Even 1 red light can cause this to happen, but it does happen all the time!

If a guest is running behind, they could call the venue’s listed number and ask what the protocol is. Guests should approach the venue slowly in case the ceremony is outside as to not cause a lot of noise or dust. Quietly exit the vehicle and find a venue attendant to get directions. The venue attendant should escort the late guests to the back row after the precession has ended.

It isn’t the end of the world to be a little tardy and the venue should have a plan in place for late arriving guests to cause the least disturbance.

How early should guests arrive?

Weddings, especially at a rented venue, have a specific schedule throughout the day and it’s important for guests to arrive appropriately.

Guests should arrive 15 – 30 minutes before the ceremony start time stated on the wedding invitation. This will account for traffic, parking and navigating the venue to find a seat. If it is an especially large venue or wedding, I would suggest 30 minutes to account for more vehicles parking and more guests walking the venue grounds.

It is often amazing to watch 2 parking attendants shuffle in 100 cars in 15 minutes, but it happens all the time.

It is also a good idea as a guest to call the venue ahead of time if you are in need of a close parking spot due to a disability or is you have something to bring to the venue for the wedding such as a decoration.

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