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Etiquette

Handling early guest arrivals to the ceremony?

Not sure if this is the correct board for this, but I've suddenly gotten a little worried about how to properly deal with guests who arrive early to the ceremony. 

So, a little background. I'm getting married at a summer camp that's located about 45 minutes away from the nearest large city, through winding mountain roads. Some of our guests will be staying with us over the weekend, so they'll be spending the day of the wedding participating in camp activities and whatnot before getting ready.

For everyone else, we're organizing shuttles because we want people to be able to enjoy themselves without worrying about the annoying drive back and we'll likely be factoring in a bit of buffer time for arrival. We're sure that some guests will also drive themselves. In either case, we're anticipating some early arrivals. FH and I will be getting ready, taking pictures, and doing a very private tea ceremony, so we won't be available to welcome them, but we will have coordinators directing people. Do we need to provide refreshments and/or activities for them to pass them time? Do we assume that they can just mingle and wait for the ceremony start? Do we leave the guestbook out for them to sign?

Re: Handling early guest arrivals to the ceremony?

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Not sure if this is the correct board for this, but I've suddenly gotten a little worried about how to properly deal with guests who arrive early to the ceremony. 

    So, a little background. I'm getting married at a summer camp that's located about 45 minutes away from the nearest large city, through winding mountain roads. Some of our guests will be staying with us over the weekend, so they'll be spending the day of the wedding participating in camp activities and whatnot before getting ready.

    For everyone else, we're organizing shuttles because we want people to be able to enjoy themselves without worrying about the annoying drive back and we'll likely be factoring in a bit of buffer time for arrival. We're sure that some guests will also drive themselves. In either case, we're anticipating some early arrivals. FH and I will be getting ready, taking pictures, and doing a very private tea ceremony, so we won't be available to welcome them, but we will have coordinators directing people. Do we need to provide refreshments and/or activities for them to pass them time? Do we assume that they can just mingle and wait for the ceremony start? Do we leave the guestbook out for them to sign?
    Well, it's totally optional to provide refreshments, and you can leave the guestbook out for them to sign, but I wouldn't plan "activities for them to pass the time."  They're not supposed to get there until shortly before the ceremony starts, so if they do, they can mingle and wait for the ceremony to start.
    ILoveBeachMusic
  • Is the ceremony outside? Will the shuttles all leave the city at the same time?  If the ceremony is outside, I would suggest some refreshments (at least some water) in the case that the shuttles are there early, or people allotted more time for travel than was needed. You don't need to do anything beyond that. I agree with @Jen4948, a guestbook is good, but you definitely don't need to plan any activities. 

    Jen4948short+sassy
  • I wouldn't worry about it.

    Your guests know what time the ceremony starts at and should arrive accordingly.

    Not that it would be wrong to have refreshments available- but definitely not required.
  • I agree that they don't need any activities but it's good you'll have people directing people where to go. I went to a wedding where the wedding party and some family were having a pre-wedding event (connected to a first look, there was a small reception), and I walked into it, not realizing it wasn't an open event or part of the wedding. If you're doing a tea ceremony or other event, I'd recommend it isnt too close to the ceremony site to avoid confusion. 
    charlotte989875
  • So, I once took the earlier of two shuttles to an outdoor wedding and it arrived a good 40 minutes before the ceremony. They had plain and fruit infused water out for the guests. The extra touch was appreciated as their shuttle schedule was responsible for so many people being very early. Something to consider if you are also doing shuttles! Not mandatory, but appreciated.
    I think this is very valid.

    If you have shuttle service that is going to make your guests arrive much earlier than the start of the ceremony, I think some sort of drink and snack should be provided.
    STARMOON44charlotte989875
  • Thanks for the responses, everyone! The ceremony will be outdoors and nestled in a small redwood grove, so it should be relatively shaded, but it sounds like water (at the very least) would be a good idea. We'll definitely try to organize the shuttles so that people aren't arriving too early.
  • Hmm, it's one thing if guest arrive early of their own accord - thet are adults and know how to deal with themselves till the ceremony starts. However if they are there early because you are providing transport that makes them early, therefore it was not their choice then I think at least a welcome drink should be provided - obviously there is a difference between 30mins early and 10mins early though. 
                 
    charlotte989875STARMOON44MandyMostSP29
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Thanks for the responses, everyone! The ceremony will be outdoors and nestled in a small redwood grove, so it should be relatively shaded, but it sounds like water (at the very least) would be a good idea. We'll definitely try to organize the shuttles so that people aren't arriving too early.
    Is this a 45 minute drive on the shuttle?  I agree that water should be available.  My son had an outdoor ceremony.  Because of the potential for traffic issues from suburbs into the city, many guests arrived early.  Others had a 2 hour drive.  We had bins of bottled water on ice available for the guests.  We opted not to offer other beverages for worry of it attracting bees.  We kept guest napkins (the long, rectangular style) near the water so the bottles would not drip onto the clothing of the guests.

    I am assuming your reception is being held in this location as well.  Restrooms will be available then, correct?
    charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • they can entertain themselves. Our wedding was at a garden and some guests got there extra early (we had advised on a road closure that might add extra travel time) and they just wondered around the garden area. The venue had restrooms available and waters too or they just went and sat in the ceremony area.  I saw a couple people and said hi because I was running around trying to find something that was misplaced lol
  • I would also make sure that they can sit down in the shade. 
    OurWildKingdom
  • If guests are getting themselves to the ceremony site, then any refreshments is a nice touch but totally unnecessary. You are not responsible for them until the ceremony starts.

    But if you are providing transportation (shuttles), then in my opinion you are responsible for them the moment they get on the shuttle. Essentially this is the start of your event, whereas in the above scenario the ceremony is the start of the event. I would try your best to make sure the shuttles don't arrive more than 15 minutes early, and definitely provide at least water and a bathroom. 
  • schroedinbugschroedinbug member
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited February 2016
    I forgot to mention -- I'm in the Bay Area and the wedding will be held in Boulder Creek, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's a 45 minute drive by car from San Jose, so I'm assuming it'll be longer by shuttle. That being said, our guests are coming in from all over (mostly the peninsula/SF, but some from Marin, the East Bay, the South Bay, and out of state), so we're waiting until we get some RSVPs back.

    This is the ceremony site:
    Our ceremony is scheduled for the late afternoon, so the light should be similar. The reception will be held behind a lodge just behind the ceremony site and the lodge has a covered porch (front and back) and indoor restrooms, so it sounds like we might want to have guests congregate there or at the ceremony site before the ceremony. I'll look into organizing some seating there as well so guests won't have to stand around. 

    Thanks again, everyone! And thanks for the tip about the napkins, @MobKaz !
    MobKazSP29
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    That's a beautiful location.  I hope the weather is good that day!
    VicTim328SP29
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