Late Guests: Should we wait???

As a professional wedding officiant, I’ve been involved in hundreds of weddings. I have seen almost everything. And in my experience, there’s one thing that shows your guest you care above everything else. It shows them how much you respect them, and their time, and sets the mood just right for the rest of your celebration. What is this magical remedy? It’s starting as close to on-time as possible. 

One thing I appreciate more than anything, is when people show up on time. I get it, life happens, and we can’t control everything. We can’t control a traffic jam, and we can’t stop a flat fire, and we certainly cannot do anything about a newborn having a blowout in their diaper and needing to change the entire outfit. These things happen no matter what day it is, no matter how important an event is - they just happen. And I have been involved in all of these trying to get my family somewhere, on time. 

What we can control is our own event. And yes, your BIG day is important to everyone, and yes, you’re inevitably going to have late arrivals. It’s just part of getting married. 

Now, most weddings starts a little late, and when I say a little late, I mean 10, 15 minutes tops. Everyone expects weddings to start late. From running behind because your hair isn’t perfect, to the groom misplacing his vows, everyone knows it’s a stressful day for you both, and you have a lot going on. This is completely understandable. So your attendees have some grace about the ceremony starting late. But here is one  excuse I just don’t understand, and it needs to be addressed.

As I’ve said before, I’ve done tons of weddings, and still don’t quite understand this mentality: when everyone is ready to go, and I mean everyone... the groom is straightened up, the bridal party is locked in, the wedding vendors are waiting for their cues, the guest our on the edge of their seat, and even the bride is primped, and looking fabulous... then why are we waiting for last minute guests to arrive???

I completely understand if a parent is running behind or you’re waiting for your sister, who happens to also be your bestie, or even your great-grandfather Arthur who’s leaving the rest home for the first time in 5 years just to see you walk down the aisle. These are completely excusable, and no one would dare to question why we’re all just standing around. 

But to wait for your second cousin, or an old college roommate, or the coworker who sits next to you? No, this just cannot happen. Instead of you extending a courtesy towards them and altering your wedding day, let them extend a courtesy to you by profusely apologizing to you for being late and missing the “I do’s”. 

I have seen this way too much, and have started talking to couples when they allow this to happen. 

First, we must realize, things do happen, and some guests who RSVP’d, just aren’t going to make it. That’s an unfortunate part of planning a wedding, knowing some of your guest had every intention of coming, and yet they don’t show. 

Second, some people are just always going to be late. No matter what time an event starts, no matter how many times you send them a reminder, no matter how many times they assure you they will be there on time - they are always late. These people do exist, and chances are you are either related to them, or they are good friends of yours. 

These two types of guests should not be allowed to dictate your ceremony, and wedding day time table. It is what it is, and we move on. If they don’t show, well, you still have 100 other people who did, so party on. If they’re late, than let them grovel and plead for forgiveness for missing your ceremony. 

Here’s the reason why I’m saying this: those 100 other guests... they made sure they were there on time, they love you guys, and are elated to have been invited to your wedding day. Now, give them some respect and love, and make sure the ceremony starts as close to on-time as possible. Don’t make them wait for one person. 

I recently walked up to a couple I was officiating for, trying to figure out why we were still waiting to start. It was already 20 minutes late. They informed me the grooms co-worker wasn’t there yet. I said “Is everyone of utmost importance here? Because you have almost every chair full, and these poor guest have now been waiting for quite awhile. Is this someone you’ve been planning your entire wedding around?” They, of course, said no. “Then lets go get you married!”

And what do you think happened? 10 minutes into the ceremony, she showed up. 

I’m not trying to sound mean, or discount any emotional attachments you may have to certain people, but a good rule of thumb is this: If you’re ready to go, and it’s already 10 minutes past when the ceremony was supposed to start, and your close friends and family are there, then walk down the aisle. 

You and your future spouse are the important people that day, let every one else’s schedules plan around yours. If one or two of your guests miss something, than they miss it. That’s that. This is your wedding day, not theirs. They’ll get over it, and you, your soulmate, and your “on-time” guests will be happier for it. 

I hope this sheds some light for some of you. Now, get down the aisle and marry the love of your life! Cheers!!!