Wedding Etiquette Forum

Time on invitation vs. actual start time

A few people have said to me now that when the invitations are made up, the start time for the ceremony should be half an hour before the time the ceremony is really starting to prevent people from being late. 

While there are some guests I'm concerned will arrive late (which would be somewhat disruptive), I feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of putting a fake start time on the invitations. I think it shows a lack of trust in all of our guests and would also leave a lot of people waiting around before our ceremony a lot longer than necessary. 

I guess what I want to know is - is this a normal and/or proper thing to do? If it isn't, and I put the actual start time on the invitation, is there anything that can be done to discourage people from arriving late?



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Re: Time on invitation vs. actual start time

  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Follow your gut, it is right.  Putting the wrong time on an invitation is just as rude as showing up late.
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  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    Yep, follow your gut on this for sure.  The start time on your invitations should be the actual start time.

    The only thing you can do to discourage lateness is spread by word of mouth that you are hitting the aisle at exactly the start time.  If you know the likely offenders, I would mention it to the person most likely to tell them (or work it into conversation with them).  The other solution is to have the chapel doors closed after you hit the aisle and anybody who's late just misses the ceremony.
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Put the time the ceremony will start. Starting 5 minutes late is fine, starting 30 minutes late is not. 

    My dad's side of the family is notoriously late for things. Many of the cousins on that side started their weddings late (one 45 minutes late!) For my sister's wedding (the first of our immediate family), my mom told them the wedding was going to start on time.  No one was late!


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    [Deleted User]
  • If your wedding begins at 5:00pm, you put 5:00pm on the invitation.  I am an early person.  If I showed up at 4:45pm so I knew I would have an extra 15 minutes, that's fine.  I realise that 15 minutes was because I got there early.  I would not be happy if I was made to wait until 5:30pm because other adults can't get someplace on time.  

    This is EXACTLY what I was concerned about. I hate the idea of forcing people who get their act together and make it to the event on time to wait around because other people can't be bothered to be punctual. I know how much that would annoy me. 


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  • AprilH81 said:

    Follow your gut, it is right.  Putting the wrong time on an invitation is just as rude as showing up late.

    IMO it's actually more rude. If I show up late to someone's wedding, I'm not inconveniencing anyone except myself (as long as I enter quietly and don't cause a scene). If I start my wedding 30 minutes later than the posted time on purpose, I'm inconveniencing all of my guests except for those 2-3 people who are always late.

    That being said, I'm one of those people who shows up early to everything. As PP said, if I get there 30 minutes early because I wanted to make sure parking/traffic/etc. didn't make me late (because I'm paranoid like that), then those 30 minutes are on me. If I had to sit there an extra 30 on top of that because the bride was worried X guest wouldn't be capable of arriving on time like a responsible human being, I would not be a happy wedding guest.
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    thisismynickname2PrettyGirlLostAprilH81
  • I'm also one of those people who always shows up early. I would be pretty damn cranky if I ended up being WAY early because the time printed on the invitation was a fake start time. 

    Offices don't say "Get here at 8:30!" but then actually start at 9 just to accommodate their late employees. Why? Because employees are adults (usually) and should be able to manage getting themselves somewhere important on time. Weddings should be the same. 
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    PrettyGirlLostIamnowmrsjms
  • Sorry, bad etiquette. The time on the invites is the time the ceremony begins. People who are responsible will show up to the wedding so they're seated when it begins. There will be stragglers. Nothing you can do about it. If you focus on your FI, you'll barely notice it.
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • Start on time, and make sure your ushers leave a row or two in the back of the ceremony location free for late people, and someone (venue coordinator, etc), tells them they need to sit there if they arrive after the ceremony starts. Most of the time late arrivals are not disruptive unless they walk midway up the aisle and make people move so that they can find a seat. 

    My ceremony site locks the main door at the time the ceremony starts so the mass can begin, and posts a sign telling latecomers to use the side entrance, and sit in the pews there. The view from those pews is not as good, but it's acceptable. This is fairly standard practice for Catholic masses--my church does the same thing on Sundays (which I know as a chronic late-comer :-/)
    PrettyGirlLost
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    My husband and his mom wanted to do this, but I shut it down for all the reasons stated above. 

    What I did do was list the wedding timeline on my website:
    6pm ceremony
    6:30 cocktail hour
    7:30 dinner

    I hoped that would get the point across that the shindig would start on time, because there would be a domino effect the rest of the night if it didn't. 

    I think there were a couple latecomers, but I personally didn't notice. I didn't notice a single disruption, although I found out after the fact that a few people were indeed late. 

    Starting late intentionally only enables rude people and reinforces the idea that their rudeness is acceptable. 
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  • Also beware for your venue coordinators to possibly suggest this - just because they suggest it and they're "the professional" doesn't make it any more right.

    Ours said "What time do your invitations say and what time do you actually plan to start? We usually advise starting later than what you told your guests."

    Well thanks for your useless advisement.
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    A few people have said to me now that when the invitations are made up, the start time for the ceremony should be half an hour before the time the ceremony is really starting to prevent people from being late. 


    While there are some guests I'm concerned will arrive late (which would be somewhat disruptive), I feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of putting a fake start time on the invitations. I think it shows a lack of trust in all of our guests and would also leave a lot of people waiting around before our ceremony a lot longer than necessary. 

    I guess what I want to know is - is this a normal and/or proper thing to do? No.  This is an incredibly rude thing that wedding coordinators suggest people do.  If it isn't, and I put the actual start time on the invitation, is there anything that can be done to discourage people from arriving late?  Nope.  It doesn't matter if people are late, it won't effect your ceremony.





    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • If a wedding started more than 15 minutes after what it said on the invitation I'd wonder whether someone had cold feet. Don't do it. 

    Same here. I went to a wedding where the bride was OVER AN HOUR late. This was apparently normal for this culture or circle because all the people around me were not bothered or phased by it at all. They were like "she probably just doesn't feel ready yet." Um ok... I totally thought she was having cold feet.

    The groom just stood up there with his GMs hanging out, guests trickled in throughout the hour. Some people even came in after the ceremony started - meaning they were over an hour late to the wedding!

    It was the weirdest thing ever.
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  • If a wedding started more than 15 minutes after what it said on the invitation I'd wonder whether someone had cold feet. Don't do it. 

    Same here. I went to a wedding where the bride was OVER AN HOUR late. This was apparently normal for this culture or circle because all the people around me were not bothered or phased by it at all. They were like "she probably just doesn't feel ready yet." Um ok... I totally thought she was having cold feet.

    The groom just stood up there with his GMs hanging out, guests trickled in throughout the hour. Some people even came in after the ceremony started - meaning they were over an hour late to the wedding!

    It was the weirdest thing ever.
    I went to a wedding of a family friend when I was a kid, and the ceremony didn't start when it was supposed to. After 15 minutes, people started whispering and trying to figure out what was going on. After a half hour, someone got up and went to check. Turns out, the bride was having second thoughts, so she and the groom were in a back room discussing it. 

    The person who went to check came back and told people this. The groom's entire side got so mad that they stood up and left. They all left! An hour after the ceremony was supposed to start, it finally started. Someone went after the groom's side and tried to get them to come back, but they refused. So the wedding went on without anyone from the groom's side. It was insane. 

    And side note, about 20 years later, the couple is still married. But don't do this to your guests. 
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • If a wedding started more than 15 minutes after what it said on the invitation I'd wonder whether someone had cold feet. Don't do it. 

    This.  We went to the wedding of FI's friend, which started about 30 minutes late.  This particular friend had been engaged once before and called off the wedding pretty much the day before. At this wedding,by about 10 minutes after the start time with no sign of the bride or groom, people were looking at each other asking "oh no, did it happen again?"  It was fine, there was just an issue with the bride's transportation.  I guess it's a little different given this friend's history, but still, people might wonder.
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  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    @novella1186 that's.... horrifying. But yay the couple is still together! 
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    novella1186
  • Please please please don't do this!

    My niece had a friday wedding with a start time of 4:45 pm. Weird, but hey its also on the 13th, and it's their wedding...ok. So I take a half day off work, pick my daughter up from school early, we hurry up to get downtown, find parking, etc to get there 10 min early. I ask groom why such a funky time?

    His reply...oh that isn't the real time, we just wanted people to be here on time. I was so pissed. I'm a grown adult, I know how to get to places "on time." If others don't, that is on them. Don't make me wait extra time because of stupid people. So we had to wait and then wait more because the late people couldn't even make it on time to the fake time, then the bride...my niece...ran late as well. Oh and then we had to wait w/out food or drink while they took pictures. I didn't stay long after food was served I was that upset. 
    novella1186
  • I'm SO glad I asked about this. I thought it was a bizarre suggestion, so I thought maybe I should make sure I wasn't the crazy one. Just goes to show you really can't listen to the wedding industry when it comes to doing the polite thing. Thanks, all! 
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    PrettyGirlLostDreamergirl8812novella1186
  • I'm also one of those people who always shows up early. I would be pretty damn cranky if I ended up being WAY early because the time printed on the invitation was a fake start time. 


    Offices don't say "Get here at 8:30!" but then actually start at 9 just to accommodate their late employees. Why? Because employees are adults (usually) and should be able to manage getting themselves somewhere important on time. Weddings should be the same. 
    Oh, but wouldn't you know.....

    At my last job, everyone was required to be at work 15 minutes prior to the start of their shift. You got a 5-minute grace period, but if you weren't there at least 10 minutes before the start of your shift, you were considered "late." This was to make sure that everyone was actually THERE, ready to go, for the exact moment their shift started.

    You had to know that I'd have an example of the Job From Hell completely going against all logic and common sense ;)
    PrettyGirlLostnovella1186lightningsnow
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    If a wedding started more than 15 minutes after what it said on the invitation I'd wonder whether someone had cold feet. Don't do it. 

    Same here. I went to a wedding where the bride was OVER AN HOUR late. This was apparently normal for this culture or circle because all the people around me were not bothered or phased by it at all. They were like "she probably just doesn't feel ready yet." Um ok... I totally thought she was having cold feet.

    The groom just stood up there with his GMs hanging out, guests trickled in throughout the hour. Some people even came in after the ceremony started - meaning they were over an hour late to the wedding!

    It was the weirdest thing ever.
    I've mentioned it before, but my cousin's wedding started an hour and 45 minutes late.  It was supposed to start at noon, and they got the show on the road at 1:45.  We were told at one point that they were having to perform surgery on the dress because the seamstress screwed up, and at another point that the bride and bridesmaids were still making their bouquets. 

    Then at the end of the ceremony the officiant announced that they had been legally married a couple of months ago.  This is the same wedding that was out of town for all of the family members yet was a potluck (so both rude and inconvenient), and also requested gifts in the form of cash on the invitation.  My family is not so big on etiquette and didn't have a problem with any of this.  *sigh*  (On the other hand, I let my immediate family know why the etiquette blunders were in fact etiquette blunders and they mocked me for it at the time, but now that my nephew is getting married my sister has called me a couple of times to ask etiquette questions about the wedding.  And I introduced nephew to Miss Manners Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding and he liked her dry humor and asked to read more.  So there is hope!)



    PrettyGirlLostDreamergirl8812novella1186TerriHugg
  • @JellyBean52513 - I hope you documented that in your request for overtime. :) Good riddance to crappy employers! Hope all is going well in your new digs.
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    TerriHugg[Deleted User]
  • Don't do it. I totally agree that the wedding must start at the time listed on the invitation. 

    Last year, I went to a wedding that was supposed to start at 11:00 am on the invitation. Because it was a rainy day and the location was hour away, I planned to arrive by 10:00/10:30 pm to account for traffic. I arrived at around 10:45 am along with some other to the surprise of the reception hall employees because they told us the wedding was started at 1:00 pm. 

    So these people purposely stated a time on the invitation that was two hours earlier than they planned. Then to make matters worse, the wedding didn't even start until 1:45pm! 

    I was livid!!!!! Don't do that to your guests at all. 
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  • Dreamergirl8812Dreamergirl8812 your closet member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    TerriHugg said:

    Don't do it. I totally agree that the wedding must start at the time listed on the invitation. 


    Last year, I went to a wedding that was supposed to start at 11:00 am on the invitation. Because it was a rainy day and the location was hour away, I planned to arrive by 10:00/10:30 pm to account for traffic. I arrived at around 10:45 am along with some other to the surprise of the reception hall employees because they told us the wedding was started at 1:00 pm. 

    So these people purposely stated a time on the invitation that was two hours earlier than they planned. Then to make matters worse, the wedding didn't even start until 1:45pm! 

    I was livid!!!!! Don't do that to your guests at all. 
    Fuck that shit. I would have left.



    Anniversary
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    [Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • TerriHugg said:

    Don't do it. I totally agree that the wedding must start at the time listed on the invitation. 


    Last year, I went to a wedding that was supposed to start at 11:00 am on the invitation. Because it was a rainy day and the location was hour away, I planned to arrive by 10:00/10:30 pm to account for traffic. I arrived at around 10:45 am along with some other to the surprise of the reception hall employees because they told us the wedding was started at 1:00 pm. 

    So these people purposely stated a time on the invitation that was two hours earlier than they planned. Then to make matters worse, the wedding didn't even start until 1:45pm! 

    I was livid!!!!! Don't do that to your guests at all. 
    Fuck that shit. I would have left.
    @dreamergirl8812 I wanted to but, it was my husband's brother's wedding. So I had to stay. 

    I was starving!!! because I hadn't eaten since like 7 that morning. 
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  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    TerriHugg said:

    TerriHugg said:

    Don't do it. I totally agree that the wedding must start at the time listed on the invitation. 


    Last year, I went to a wedding that was supposed to start at 11:00 am on the invitation. Because it was a rainy day and the location was hour away, I planned to arrive by 10:00/10:30 pm to account for traffic. I arrived at around 10:45 am along with some other to the surprise of the reception hall employees because they told us the wedding was started at 1:00 pm. 

    So these people purposely stated a time on the invitation that was two hours earlier than they planned. Then to make matters worse, the wedding didn't even start until 1:45pm! 

    I was livid!!!!! Don't do that to your guests at all. 
    Fuck that shit. I would have left.
    @dreamergirl8812 I wanted to but, it was my husband's brother's wedding. So I had to stay. 

    I was starving!!! because I hadn't eaten since like 7 that morning. 
    Yeah I would have looked at my H and said "um, sorry that your brother is an ass, but I am taking the care and getting myself a pizza."

    TerriHuggPrettyGirlLost
  • Every wedding I've ever been to started within 5 minutes after the advertised start time. I feel like people "know" that weddings (unlike other events) start on time, and that they should be early for them. I even feel like the people I know who are notorious for always being late know this (my brother comes to mind...). I fully expect half my guests to be early and will provide them with pre-ceremony music, cookies, and lemonade.
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