Candace
Devoted March 2022

Invitation start time vs actual start time

Candace, on September 10, 2021 at 1:02 PM Posted in Planning 0 21
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As a guest, if your invite says 5:30, do you plan to be in your seat and waiting for the ceremony procession at 5:30? Or do you plan to get there at 5:30, park, and find your way to the seats?


At your wedding, did your ceremony actually begin at the time stated? Or did you factor in an extra 10, 20, or 30 minutes so there's no late walk-ins during the procession?

21 Comments

Latest activity by A.B., on September 21, 2021 at 8:22 PM
  • Lisa
    Rockstar July 2022
    Lisa ·
    • Flag
    If I receive an invitation that says 5:30, I try to get there around 5:15 or 5:20, just to have some extra time in case of traffic, finding my seat, etc. I definitely do not want to walk in late to someone else's wedding.
    • Reply
  • Cece
    Super November 2022
    Cece Online ·
    • Flag
    If I were to receive an invitation that said 5:30 PM, I would assume that meant ceremony start time and would plan to be there around 5:00. On our invitations, we are actually putting the words “ceremony beginning at 5:00”, so everyone knows to be there and in their seats by that time.
    • Reply
  • Jay
    Devoted September 2021
    Jay ·
    • Flag

    Most people would assume the time listed on the invite is the actual start time. I aim to arrive 30-45 minutes early for something like a wedding ceremony. I've never seen an invite list a faux start time, and would be really upset if I did, since I would then be probably over 1.5 hours early! I think it's generally considered bad etiquette to use a false start time. People are used to theatre, movies, etc.--the start time is the time it starts!

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  • Givemeallthepups
    Expert February 2020
    Givemeallthepups ·
    • Flag

    We put our actual start time on the invitations and started on time. I believe the venue had someone at the door so that any late arrivals (I don't believe we had any) were held during the processional.

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  • Gabby
    Devoted October 2021
    Gabby ·
    • Flag
    We are putting the time our prelude music starts (5:30) on the invite. On our website we explain that people need to be seating themselves between 530-545 because the doors remain locked to the church and we are keeping it that way for security. The ushers come back in about 550 or so for the people that are still late to the given time. Anyway that comes after the ushers come back in is just going to miss the ceremony I guess.
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  • V
    Champion July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag

    You should most definitely put the actual start time on the invitation. Guests typically arrive plenty of time before that. I know we went to a wedding where they put 4 and it didn't actually start until 4:30. It was in a barn with only two fans in the middle of June. It was an awful experience. No one was happy. We were sweating and extremely annoyed to be waiting on the ceremony to start.

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  • S
    Expert September 2022
    Sarah ·
    • Flag

    I will be putting the actual start time and, if needed, give an extra 5-10 minutes for guests to sit.

    As a guest, if the invitation says 5:30 I am usually there between 5 and 5:15. Some older folks may even get there earlier than that (my grandpa is one of those) so if you put 5:30 on the invite but don't plan to start until 6 you'll have some very antsy guests. Please don't punish those that arrive early to accommodate those who will arrive late.

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  • Lynnie
    WeddingWire Administrator October 2016
    Lynnie Online ·
    • Flag

    I always try to arrive 15 minutes early so we have time to park, find the entrance, say hi to a few people, and still take our seats early!!

    Our wedding started about 5 minutes after the printed start time!

    • Reply
  • Candace
    Devoted March 2022
    Candace ·
    • Flag
    Thank you everybody!! My FH and I have been going back and forth about this. I'm also one to get there ahead of the stated time so I can be in my seat and ready. We're just aware that not everybody is like that! We don't want stragglers to be a distraction but I also want to respect our guests by starting on time. I'll definitely plan to start the procession at the stated time. I'll give the ushers the responsibility of keeping the latecomers at bay until an appropriate time in the ceremony. And put lots of details on the website about exactly when the ceremony begins and of course details about finding the venue and parking. I feel better about it now so thank you 🙏
    • Reply
  • Nancy
    Beginner March 2022
    Nancy ·
    • Flag

    For me if it says 5:30 I will be there before about 10-15 minutes before. But that's just me.

    my ceremony is starting at 4pm so I added "Promptly at 4pm"

    If I didn't I know some guest will start getting there after.

    • Reply
  • Janna
    Savvy July 2022
    Janna ·
    • Flag

    On my invite, I broke it down. I said cocktails and appetizers will be served at 5:00, the ceremony will be at 6:15, and dinner/dancing will immediately follow at the same location.

    If you want them there at a specific time, you could do something similar and say "Ceremony to begin at....." and then they can decide how early to get there. Or if you have the room starting at a certain time, you can put that time and then say, ".....and Ceremony will begin promptly at...." That way if they're traveling a far distance, they can get there a little early and mill around, but still be there in time for the wedding.

    • Reply
  • Liz W
    Savvy November 2021
    Liz W ·
    • Flag
    As a guest, I assume the time listed is when the ceremony will begin. Our ceremony starts at 5:30pm, so we listed that but added a question to our website faq to say people should plan to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to find a seat.
    • Reply
  • Clarissa
    Rockstar October 2021
    Clarissa ·
    • Flag
    So I’m going to be the odd ball out here. I know my guest even if I state the correct time they still will be an hour late. So we went 30 minutes earlier than our ceremony time so any late comers won’t be arriving as I’m walking down the aisle.
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    The time on the invitation is when the bride makes her entrance
    • Reply
  • Nichole
    Devoted September 2022
    Nichole ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    This is what I am doing but I am debating on putting on our website that guests get seated between 3 and 320 and ceremony starting at 330. I know I have some guests who are notorious for being late to things.
    • Reply
  • Jacks
    Master September 2019
    Jacks ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    Why would you punish the people that showed up on time though? Then the late people are rewarded by making a venue full of people wait for them.

    • Reply
  • Bonnie
    Savvy December 2021
    Bonnie ·
    • Flag
    As a guest, I always assume the time on the invite is the start time & plan to arrive in enough time to be seated by then. I will say though rarely has that been the actual start time in my experience. That being said, my wedding will actually start 30 min after the time listed on the invite. Lol I hate when people are late & 95% of our guests will be traveling from out of town, so in case people are lost/running behind there is cushion time.
    • Reply
  • Rosie
    Rockstar February 2022
    Rosie ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    I agree with this and hate being late so I always arrive before when I'm told, but it's common where I live for the invite time to be earlier than the actual start time to make sure everyone is there and seated when the bride shows up.

    The way our venue is set up, anyone arriving late would would appear at the front and to the side of where we'd be standing, so potentially very distracting for our guests who actually managed to arrive at the time they were supposed to, plus the potential for ruining photos is reasonably high. Thankfully though, I believe there is a person who stands out the front to stop people from arriving late, and they are sent around the other side of the building.

    • Reply
  • Monica
    VIP October 2021
    Monica ·
    • Flag
    I put 2pm as ceremony start time. Im hoping to give an extra 5-10minutes before we actually start for those who are running late. Most of our family live an hour away
    • Reply
  • Ricardo
    Just Said Yes February 2022
    Ricardo ·
    • Flag

    On our invitations we stated the ceremony begins at 5:30. On the back we had additional information about the wedding including the wedding website. I've seen people do informational inserts if you can't or don't want to use the back side of the invitation. Under Ceremony, we listed that guests were encouraged to arrive by 5:00.

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