I don’t know a soul under 50 who plans a party, expecting guests to actually show up “on time.” The concept of fashionably late is so expected, that it is alarming when the doorbell rings “on time.” Like, WTF guest who doesn’t understand I’m still in my bathrobe wiping melted butter off the floor because yes, I just started cooking dinner at the announced time of the party. Don’t you know you’re supposed to be late!? Stress.
It’s so expected, we schedule parties to start earlier, so that the actual party won’t start too late into the night. I am in the camp of “Party starts at 5 pm! (because you people won’t show up till 6 or later and I have a pretty loyal 10 pm bedtime).”
So, it is no surprise we apply this late-guest logic to our weddings, because after all, we have scheduled events to attend to and people need to witness all of it! This is where I’m going to have to stop you.
Being fashionably late to a wedding is not a thing.
You don’t believe me, do you? I know. I see the disbelieving side eye frequently. However, allow me to spell out what will absolutely happen:
The invite states a 4:30 pm ceremony time. You plan on starting at 5. Ha! Jokes on you late comers! It is 4 pm and people start arriving. Wait, huh? Aunt Sarah and the Millers were worried about traffic and parking so they gave themselves plenty of time because they know the ceremony starts at 4:30.
Oh, who’s that? Your co-workers all took Ubers and arrive at 4:25, just in time to see you walk down the aisle? Yes, yes they did because they believe your wedding is starting at 4:30.
Here’s where posting an incorrect ceremony start time becomes rude: You have guests sitting around for up to an hour because you never intended to start on your stated time. Your friends will show up on time. I promise. They know the rules.
In my decade of weddings, we start most ceremonies on time-ish, and there are never more than 3-5 stragglers post-you walking down the aisle. That’s totally true.
So, commit to the time you post. Your guests are counting on it.
Alternative suggestion if you still don’t trust me:
I have had couples host a pre-cocktail hour to the ceremony, allowing a healthy buffer of time for folks to arrive, ensuring them being there for the ceremony. How this is announced on an invite would looks something like:
5 pm Welcome Cocktails
6 pm Ceremony
This totally works and is a fun way to start the party.