What Wedding Guests Should (and Shouldn't!) Do If They Arrive Early to the Ceremony

Updated 08/30/16

A couple's favorite kind of wedding guest? One who is prompt or — gasp! — even a little early. RSVP mailed as soon as the invitation arrives? Hotel booked as soon as the room block is reserved? Parked at the church 30 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin? Being ahead of schedule has never been so welcome. That is, of course, unless the venue isn't quite ready for you yet. So if you've shown up to the ceremony early, what should you do? Our experts have a few tips.

If you arrive at the ceremony significantly ahead of schedule, do your best to stay out of the way. Especially in houses of worship, there's a chance the couple's wedding planner didn't have access to the space until an hour or so ago, so they're probably still putting the finishing touches on the decor. If it's nice outside, take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. Attending a winter wedding? Find a spot to sit inside that won't interfere with set up.

There are a few things you definitely shouldn't do. The first?Don't go looking for the bride or groom. They have a lot on their minds right now (and are probably trying to squeeze in a few pre-ceremony pictures), so save the hugs and well-wishes for after they've said "I do."

The second? If the ceremony and reception are at the same venue, don't try to sneak into the reception space. Again, it may not be completely decorated yet, and there are probably plenty of vendors hard at work. Even if the escort cards are out and you know where you'll be sitting, avoid the urge to put down your bag or coat — you wouldn't want someone's jacket sticking out like a sore thumb in the pictures of your reception, would you? Instead, let the event flow as the couple intends it to, and wait to enter the reception until after cocktail hour.

While you're waiting for the ceremony to begin, mingle with other guests as they arrive, then nab the best seat in the house (behind the couple's families, of course!) once the doors open!

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