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Culturally "accepted/expected" lateness to wedding ceremony - what to do?

OjitosVerdesOjitosVerdes member
250 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
edited September 2013 in Etiquette
Hi all - I have a situation that I'm sure someone here will have a great solution to. 

FI's mom's side of the family comes from a culture in which no one attends anything (social) on time. Lateness is accepted, and even expected at family events. Her family makes up a good chunk of our guest list. (40% maybe?)

The chapel we are getting married in is a Spanish colonial style replica, and doesn't have the separate foyer that modern churches do - except for the two emergency exits at the very front of the church, two large, heavy wooden doors at the back are the only entrance and exit. 

Because of this, the on-site events coordinator is adamant that once I'm in the church, those doors will be closed behind me and won't be opened again until the ceremony is over. She plans on being there to police this. The doors are a PITA to get open, and let a huge amount of light into the chapel, which is rather dark inside. She is concerned, rightly so, that any opening and closing of the doors will be a terrible distraction. She thinks we need to have a refreshment table outside for any guests that arrive late, so they can kill the 20 minutes or so that our ceremony will take. 

FI's mom is not happy about this - she has expressed that her family will be late, and should be allowed in regardless. 

FI and I kinda agree with the coordinator. While somewhat brief, our ceremony has been painstakingly crafted by the two of us and we don't want anything to detract from it. The solution that he's posed to his mom is to call everyone on her side, and let them know because of timing issues (we'll be racing the sunset for pics - delaying the ceremony any more than about 10 minutes won't be possible), they need to be there on time. And then it's up to them to decide how to handle that info. 

FI's mom didn't like that idea either, and thinks people will be late anyway. 

WWED? (What would etiquette do?) - allow the coordinator to keep those doors shut? Our ceremony won't be disturbed, but people may miss out? Our let people slip in and out, possibly disruptively so? And do you agree that there is nothing we can do beyond phone calls to communicate to people that promptness is important? 

A while ago FI tried to convince me to print two sets of invites - one with a 30 min. earlier start time. At the time, I thought he was joking and said absolutely not- we didn't need to treat our guests like children. The very real possibility of half our guest list being late wasn't communicated to me until a couple days ago. And it's apparently very real. Knowing what I know now, I might have taken him up on that idea ... 

Thoughts?

Edited for clarity.


«1

Re: Culturally "accepted/expected" lateness to wedding ceremony - what to do?

  • natswildnatswild The F-f-f-rozen N-n-north (Northern Alberta) member
    Fourth Anniversary 250 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    That's the first thing that came to my mind. Our family does it with my brother all the time, because we know that he's always going to be at least an hour late. We just don't tell him that the time we give him is different from the actual get together time. 

  • @kmmssg - I think you are absolutely right - FI needs to handle this one with his family. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Thanks all - I'm running to teach now and will check back in a bit - our gut instinct is that the start time needs to be respected, but I wanted to see how others felt. 
  • Leave the doors open throughout the whole ceremony. Or spread the word the doors will be locked after the ceremony starts and it will start on time.
    melbelleupSTARMOON44Iloveshanej
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with your coordinator.  I would make sure that your FI emphasizes over and over and over again that the wedding will begin at the hour noted on the invites and that anyone late will have to remain outside until the wedding is over with.

    I understand that some cultures fully accept being late but unless your entire guest list is made up of these individuals it wouldn't be fair to your other guests to either delay the start of the ceremony or keep interrupting it.

    I do think the refreshment table suggested by your coordinator is a very nice thing to have.

    PrettyGirlLostsimplykaylajendemeyer
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hi all - I have a situation that I'm sure someone here will have a great solution to. 

    FI's mom's side of the family comes from a culture in which no one attends anything on time. Lateness is accepted, and even expected. Her family makes up a good chunk of our guest list. (40% maybe?)

    The chapel we are getting married in is a Spanish colonial style replica, and doesn't have the separate foyer that modern churches do - except for the two emergency exits at the very front of the church, two large, heavy wooden doors at the back are the only entrance and exit. 

    Because of this, the on-site events coordinator is adamant that once I'm in the church, those doors will be closed behind me and won't be opened again until the ceremony is over. She plans on being there to police this. The doors are a PITA to get open, and let a huge amount of light into the chapel, which is rather dark inside. She is concerned, rightly so, that any opening and closing of the doors will be a terrible distraction. She thinks we need to have a refreshment table outside for any guests that arrive late, so they can kill the 20 minutes or so that our ceremony will take. 

    FI's mom is not happy about this - she has expressed that her family will be late, and should be allowed in regardless. 

    FI and I kinda agree with the coordinator. While somewhat brief, our ceremony has been painstakingly crafted by the two of us and we don't want anything to detract from it. The solution that he's posed to his mom is to call everyone on her side, and let them know because of timing issues (we'll be racing the sunset for pics - delaying the ceremony any more than about 10 minutes won't be possible), they need to be there on time. And then it's up to them to decide how to handle that info. 

    FI's mom didn't like that idea either, and thinks people will be late anyway. 

    WWED? (What would etiquette do?) - allow the coordinator to keep those doors shut? Our ceremony won't be disturbed, but people may miss out? Our let people slip in and out, possibly disruptively so? And do you agree that there is nothing we can do beyond phone calls to communicate to people that promptness is important? 

    A while ago FI tried to convince me to print two sets of invites - one with a 30 min. earlier start time. At the time, I thought he was joking and said absolutely not- we didn't need to treat our guests like children. The very real possibility of half our guest list being late wasn't communicated to me until a couple days ago. And it's apparently very real. Knowing what I know now, I might have taken him up on that idea ... 

    Thoughts?


    I would spread through word of mouth that the ceremony is starting promptly and late guests won't be allowed in to witness it.  It will then be their fault they missed the ceremony.  You have a timeline to keep, just because there are people out there who like to keep their own timelines, doesn't mean yours should be messed up.

    Have FI talk to his mom that this is how it will be, regardless of what she says.  Also have FI explain that because you two will not budge on this, her help will be appreciated in making sure the word is spread around.

    I think if your coordinator has some refreshments for the late comers outside, you are still properly hosting them while they cannot see your ceremony. 

    PrettyGirlLost
  • arrippaarrippa Sam Adams Craft Commonwealth member
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    That would drive me nuts. I don't understand how adults can't be on time to a wedding or something equally important. I think kmmssg haas the right idea.

    doeydolizybeff
  • If I was one of the on-time guests, I would be so pissed since I would be there probably 20 minutes early anyway. You're doing the right thing. 

    PrettyGirlLostgrumbledore
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I'd let them in or just keep the doors open. One of my best friends was late to my wedding. He thought he was sneaking in the back but it was actually the front of the church...I found it highly amusing. But I'd rather he be late than miss it entirely, or think ill of me for not letting him in.
    But they should all be on time, it's rude to be late. If they all run a half hour late - then you have nothing to worry about, you'll be done before they even get there! :-p GL!
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

    NYCMercedesmelbelleupWonderRedRebeccaB88
  • I'd let them in or just keep the doors open. One of my best friends was late to my wedding. He thought he was sneaking in the back but it was actually the front of the church...I found it highly amusing. But I'd rather he be late than miss it entirely, or think ill of me for not letting him in.
    But they should all be on time, it's rude to be late. If they all run a half hour late - then you have nothing to worry about, you'll be done before they even get there! :-p GL!
    I had a friend that was late to one of our mutual friend's weddings and was not allowed in the church.  It was a legit excuse since he got rear ended on the way to the wedding, but HE felt terrible, in no way did he think less of the B&G because their church was closed to latecomers.  So if anyone is mad at the B&G because they weren't allowed in when THEY were late, that's their problem.
    [Deleted User]Blue_Birdlizybeffjendemeyer
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    We had a few people late to our ceremony.  Guess what?  They stayed out in the lobby until it was over with.  Would I have liked them to witness it?  Sure.  But it was there fault they were late so I didn't really feel bad for them.

    melbelleupPrettyGirlLostBlue_Bird
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Just giving my opinion and what I did. I think if people want to lock the doors that's their call. I'm glad I didn't and just offering my personal perspective :-)
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • I'm from ireland and people often say we're late for everything - but really, while we may be laid back that's not really the case. Is it really a cultural thing or are this particular group of people just late to everything?

    Are you allowed to lock the church, legally? Here ceremony venues must be open to the public by law.
  • Close the doors (if that's what YOU want), provide a light refreshments table, and spread the word that the ceremony starts promptly at XX o'clock and no latecomers will be granted entrance. If you're having pre-ceremony music, you can also verbally stress that time to FI's relatives instead of the actual ceremony start time. 
    image
    OjitosVerdes
  • Your FI needs to be super proactive about spreading this by word of mouth. 

    Ideally, I'd say lock them out, but realistically (it's family), I would leave the doors open and, since there's no lobby, station the coordinator outside to let people know that the ceremony has already begun, to enter quietly and sit in the back. I'd also advise that you have ushers to ensure that most guests are seated toward the front so that late-comers have plenty of room in the back and won't be a big distraction when they arrive.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    WonderRedPrettyGirlLost
  • I like the suggestion of leaving the doors open. I'd also move the time up- even though you should absolutely plan on starting on time, I wouldn't structure the day so you're racing to get pics in with a 10 minute margin of error.
  • FI needs to let them know that it's not culturally accepted where you are to be late, regardless of where they are originally from.  Period.  Start on time.  Period.  If they miss it, they miss it.  But I agree that you should just leave the doors open if that many people are apt to be late.  I think actually locking them out and having someone stand guard is a bit aggressive and is only going to create problems.

    I'm just sorry you have to deal with this.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Hi all - I have a situation that I'm sure someone here will have a great solution to. 

    FI's mom's side of the family comes from a culture in which no one attends anything on time. Lateness is accepted, and even expected. This is not directed at you OP, but I don't buy this B.S.  It's an excuse.  Does everyone show up to work habitually late then, and still maintain jobs?  Is everyone constantly late for school, late for medical appointments, etc?  I am wiling to bet that it is only social functions that they are late for, and that is because they are rude and inconsiderate of others.  Her family makes up a good chunk of our guest list. (40% maybe?)  I'm thinking then, that 40% of your guests are either going to have to learn some time management skills pronto, or 40% of your guests are going to be standing outside during your ceremony.

    The chapel we are getting married in is a Spanish colonial style replica, and doesn't have the separate foyer that modern churches do - except for the two emergency exits at the very front of the church, two large, heavy wooden doors at the back are the only entrance and exit. 

    Because of this, the on-site events coordinator is adamant that once I'm in the church, those doors will be closed behind me and won't be opened again until the ceremony is over. She plans on being there to police this.   Good for her.  Let her do her job, and if FI's family is stuck outside because they couldn't get their asses to the church on time, then T.S!  The doors are a PITA to get open, and let a huge amount of light into the chapel, which is rather dark inside. She is concerned, rightly so, that any opening and closing of the doors will be a terrible distraction. She thinks we need to have a refreshment table outside for any guests that arrive late, so they can kill the 20 minutes or so that our ceremony will take. 

    FI's mom is not happy about this - she has expressed that her family will be late, and should be allowed in regardless.   How about she express to her family that they need to show up on time.  Time for adults to be adults, and stop with the excuses.

    FI and I kinda agree with the coordinator. While somewhat brief, our ceremony has been painstakingly crafted by the two of us and we don't want anything to detract from it. The solution that he's posed to his mom is to call everyone on her side, and let them know because of timing issues (we'll be racing the sunset for pics - delaying the ceremony any more than about 10 minutes won't be possible), they need to be there on time.   No, just have FI call his family, not his mother who continues to make excuses for her relatives,  and tell them that the ceremony will begin at X time, and if you are late, you will miss it.  We will miss you, but we are not delaying the ceremony.  Don't even mention the sunset pics, that is irrelevant.  His family just needs to be on time or else, lol.  And then it's up to them to decide how to handle that info. 

    FI's mom didn't like that idea either, and thinks people will be late anyway.

    WWED? (What would etiquette do?) - allow the coordinator to keep those doors shut?   Yep, let her do her job.  Our ceremony won't be disturbed, but people may miss out?   Welcome to the Game of Life where adult choices have direct consequences  :-) Our let people slip in and out, possibly disruptively so? And do you agree that there is nothing we can do beyond phone calls to communicate to people that promptness is important?  Yep, that's all your FI can do. . . again, keep FMIL away from this.  You can't change people's behavior, especially adults, and especially adults who use their culture as an excuse for rude behavior.

    A while ago FI tried to convince me to print two sets of invites - one with a 30 min. earlier start time. At the time, I thought he was joking and said absolutely not- we didn't need to treat our guests like children. The very real possibility of half our guest list being late wasn't communicated to me until a couple days ago. And it's apparently very real. Knowing what I know now, I might have taken him up on that idea ... 

    Thoughts?


    Sorry if I seemed too blunt, but I'm just taken aback by how rude people can be and the excuses they use. 

    I agree with you that it would be disappointing to have half of your guests standing outside of the church and missing your ceremony, but why should they be allowed to disrupt the other 50% of your guests and you and your wedding party, when the rest of you can manage to show up on time?

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


    IloveshanejOjitosVerdesSalsera29
  • Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! My inclination from the beginning has been to draw a hard line on the time and simply lock the doors, but I'm also wary to appear to bridezilla-ish. 

    Unfortunately, leaving the doors open just isn't an option - it completely changes the lighting, and the chapel sits at the heart of a resort that will be bustling that time of year. Opening and closing the doors would be less disruptive. 

    I agree that FI just needs to spread the word, and I plan on keeping the doors shut after the ceremony starts. To the OP that mentioned that it is social events that FI's family is late to, you nailed it. They would not treat work, Dr.'s appointments, etc. like that. Having lived in a country for several years where start times for social events were approximate (and having attended weddings in that culture here in the US), I do empathize, and therefore do think they need ample notice that THIS wedding won't run like that. I'd also put money on these people expecting a full, hour+ mass ceremony in which they might be able to slip in late and unnoticed, but our ceremony is going to be short and sweet without a lot of breaks, and therefore it's even more important to me that it is undisturbed. 

    Thanks again, ladies! I've found myself getting more and more worked up about things as the date approaches, and I like to check in here periodically to see if my anxiety is warranted, or if I need to slow my roll. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • WonderRedWonderRed member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited October 2013
    If it's in the middle of a big resort I completely change my mind and have to go with team this is their problem when they arrive and can't get in. 

    ETA:   BTW.. my XH is from a small, eastern European country.  Every argument we ever had he would throw "It's my culture" in my face.  No, it's not your culture.  It's an excuse and coop for you behaving badly.
    PrettyGirlLostsimplykayla
  • Ditto PPs. Weddings should start on time, and that time is whatever is specified on the invitation. 

    Although I am curious why your FI only recently told you about his family's habitual lateness and why you haven't previously noticed it -- have you NEVER been to a social event with them? Have you never noticed this?

    Your FI needs to tell his family that the wedding is going to start at exactly the hour written on your invite and if they're late, they won't be allowed in. DO NOT let your FMIL do this. Odds are good that she won't and then you'll have a bunch of angry people who don't understand why the can't get in.

    I also agree that this isn't a 'cultural' thing, it's a rude thing. You don't show up late to stuff without meaning to. You do it because you want to make a grand entrance or be rude.

    But you have my sympathies -- FI's grandmother is notoriously late for everything, and has said she "might be" late for the ceremony and we'll "just have to wait" for her. Uhm....No, no we won't. If your butt isn't in the back of the church by 2.50 to get seated as part of the processional, you are not getting seated formally, you'll be put in the back of the church when you do show up, and however much you missed of it is YOUR problem, not mine. I'm not keeping the other 99 guests waiting because YOU can't get your act together.
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    PrettyGirlLostlizybeff
  • OjitosVerdesOjitosVerdes member
    250 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited September 2013
    Ditto PPs. Weddings should start on time, and that time is whatever is specified on the invitation. 

    Although I am curious why your FI only recently told you about his family's habitual lateness and why you haven't previously noticed it -- have you NEVER been to a social event with them? Have you never noticed this?

    Your FI needs to tell his family that the wedding is going to start at exactly the hour written on your invite and if they're late, they won't be allowed in. DO NOT let your FMIL do this. Odds are good that she won't and then you'll have a bunch of angry people who don't understand why the can't get in.

    I also agree that this isn't a 'cultural' thing, it's a rude thing. You don't show up late to stuff without meaning to. You do it because you want to make a grand entrance or be rude.

    But you have my sympathies -- FI's grandmother is notoriously late for everything, and has said she "might be" late for the ceremony and we'll "just have to wait" for her. Uhm....No, no we won't. If your butt isn't in the back of the church by 2.50 to get seated as part of the processional, you are not getting seated formally, you'll be put in the back of the church when you do show up, and however much you missed of it is YOUR problem, not mine. I'm not keeping the other 99 guests waiting because YOU can't get your act together.
    To the first bolded - No, I haven't met most of these people and will be meeting them for the first time on the wedding day. FI has been to social events with them (although it's been 10+ years since the last big family event), but claims he "doesn't really remember" them being late. His mother was the one who balked when the subject of closing the doors came up at a meeting at the venue a couple days ago - apparently, her memory is better. 
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    To the second, I agree and disagree. Having lived in this culture, I can tell you that if you were to show up at a dinner party at the advertised start time, you'd be the only one there and the hosts would be annoyed that you're cutting into their last minute preparation. Weddings generally start 30 minutes late. While some of this may be a stereotype and not all people of this culture are like that, it's true enough of the time that's it's pretty consistently listed in the guide books, if you KWIM. 

    That said, while amongst themselves they may continue their cultural tradition of being late even though they now live in the US, "American" culture doesn't generally tolerate that kind of tardiness. And my very southern, very proper mother is about to have a heart attack over this. 

    Edited for clarity.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I'll take your word that this is somewhat of a cultural thing. I lived in Italy, and start times were more flexible there than they are in the very etiquette-proper area of the U.S. I grew up in. 

    But your final point is the salient one -- amongst themselves, at events they're hosting, they're welcome to start things late. But at your event, that you are hosting, they are not allowed to be late. Part of etiquette is adapting to the social norms of the society where you live -- and in America, we start weddings on time.
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    PrettyGirlLost
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