Late guests

Every, yes every wedding I have officiated recently guests have arrived late.  Usually, the most affected is the bride. She has planned her wedding day for months and is anxious to see her groom and celebrate. Any delay heightens her already high-stress level. When the bride is told their guests are still arriving, I have heard several brides say, “I don’t care we are starting NOW!”

My recommendation is for the bride and planner/coordinator to consider late guests when formulating the timeline. There should be a plan for what to do if there is a 15-minute delay and what to do if there is a 30-minute delay.

You should know . . .

  • Guests will arrive at ceremony time rather than 15 – 30 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to begin.
  • Guests will go to the bathroom when they arrive.
  • Guests will get lost on their way to the wedding or could be delayed by traffic.
  • Guests will stand around not knowing where to go or if they should have a seat.
  • Guests are unsure where to put the cards/gifts.
  • Vendor contracts may have a “Late Fee”.

Nice to have and to do . . .

  • Create a website with a map and accurate driving directions to your venue(s).
  • Include a comment on your wedding website or invitation to encourage prompt arrival such as, “We have lots of fun planned so please arrive 15 – 30 minutes prior to ceremony time.”
  • A parking attendant that is in close contact with the planner/coordinator to advise when all guests are parked.  
  • Hire a parking attendant if your venue does not provide one.
  • Be sure there is an adequate number of restrooms available.
  • Have a greeter to: answer your guest’s questions, direct them to their seats, where the restrooms are located and where to place their gifts.
  • Make an announcement, “The ceremony is about to begin, please have a seat.”
  • Do not serve alcohol until the ceremony is over or guests will stand around the bar and chat with other guests.
  • Have water available near the ceremony area. Small bottles on a self serve basis works best.