How Can We Prevent Wedding Guests From Showing up Late to the Ceremony?

Olivia Leigh Photographie

The last thing you want is for a late-arriving guest to walk into the wedding ceremony just as you were about to begin walking down the aisle. So should you put an earlier start time on the invitation to ensure guests arrive promptly?

As tempting as it may be to list an earlier start time, it's not the best idea. What will likely happen is that guests who do show up on time (or even a little early) will be left waiting 30 or 45 minutes for the actual ceremony to begin. The time listed on the invitation should be the time the ceremony will begin, not the time guests are expected to arrive.

That being said, there are a few ways to keep those inevitable latecomers from disrupting the ceremony just as you're about to walk down the aisle.

Be Flexible

Don't be too rigid about starting the ceremony at the precise minute you listed on the invitation; if guests are still trickling in at that moment, give them a few extra minutes to get settled. But don't wait more than 10 to 15 minutes, you don't want to feel stuck waiting for people who may never show (very late guests may give up trying to get to the ceremony and catch up with you at the reception).

Listen To Your Wedding Planner

If you have a wedding planner, he or she will gauge the crowd and decide when most guests have arrived and it's time to start. Once the ceremony begins, designate an usher to remain at the entrance to direct guests into the venue at an appropriate moment. They may be allowed to sit in the rear rows or quietly stand in the back. But in the end, don't be too concerned about latecomers—during the ceremony, all eyes will be on you and your groom, not the back door.

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