What to Do If You're Running Late to Your Friend's Wedding

Updated 12/01/19

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Etiquette states that a wedding ceremony shouldn't start more than 15 minutes after the time stated on the invitation, so guests should arrive well before the listed time to be in their seats when the music starts. But what do you do if you're running late and you won't be in your seat when the wedding party starts walking down the aisle?

Running late is the worst, especially when you have somewhere really important to be. If you are running late to the wedding of someone you really love, it can be even more stressful. But running a bit behind schedule isn't the end of the world. Here's a guide to the dos and don'ts of arriving late to your friend's special day.

Don't text the couple

It's their wedding day—the last thing any couple needs is to worry about one of their guests. Plus, chances are they'll be too distracted staring at their soon-to-be spouse as they walk down the aisle to notice you're not seated in a pew. Keep them calm by saving the story of how you high-tailed it to the church for another time, and day.

Do make a judgment call

If you're just one of many guests at the wedding, there's likely no need to alert anyone that you'll be late. But if you are playing a role in the ceremony, you may need to let someone know you're running behind schedule.

Assess the situation, but if you do need to tell someone, there's still no need to stress the couple out with your unfortunate news. Find another contact that can handle the situation and coordinate your arrival, and you'll keep everyone at ease.

Don't just barge in

Before you burst through the venue doors, check around to see if there's someone to assist you. There may be a wedding planner or usher waiting in the wings to tell you the best way to enter so you can fly under the radar.

Do enter quietly

If the ceremony has already begun, enter as quietly as you can. Take a seat in the back row and be careful not to disturb any other guests or get in the way of the photographer or videographer.

Don't make a scene

Once you find your BFF, whether you saw her first kiss or quietly snuck in during cocktail hour, don't make a big deal over what you missed. In fact, don't even mention it! If she has a videographer, ask her after the wedding if you can watch the ceremony footage and you'll be caught up on the festivities before you know it.

Do make the most of your time

Whether you missed 10 minutes or an hour of the wedding, make the most of the time that's left. Toast the happy couple, get down on the dance floor, and smile for pictures—you made it, after all!

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