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Do Wedding Ceremonies Usually Start on Time?

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Receiving a wedding invitation from our dearest friends can be quite an honor, especially if you’re listed as one of the important guests of the day.

A well-planned wedding ceremony is usually arranged by an experienced wedding planner. They have a structure to accommodate each part of the ceremony according to the most suitable time during that day.

The newlyweds usually receive an organized timeline that helps them keep track of all the activities during the day.

As guests, we often aren’t a part of the events that take place before the ceremony starts. But still, it is common sense that we should respect the ceremony and be there on time. Hence, we may wonder, do wedding ceremonies usually start on time?

Most of the time, wedding ceremonies don’t start on time.

Bride walking down the aisle with her father, start of the wedding ceremony on the beach

In fact, an experienced wedding planner knows that some guests won’t arrive at the venue on time. So, they will often leave some wiggle room for everyone to find a place and be seated.

Some ceremonies start 15 minutes to 20 minutes later than the posted time. Most newlyweds also understand that their family, relatives, or even friends might be residing far from the wedding venue.

In fact, due to several other personal reasons, not everyone may arrive punctually. So, there is no reason why the couple can’t spare a few minutes just to wait for their important guests to arrive.

How Soon Should the Wedding Ceremony Start?

If you’re planning to be married soon, then you must be wondering what the best time for the ceremony to start is.

First and foremost, if you have enough money to spare, you can hire a wedding planner to make suggestions and do the scheduling. On the other hand, if you are trying to keep a tight budget and prefer to plan your own wedding, then there are a lot of factors that you should consider before deciding when your ceremony should start.

These factors include:

Arrival Time vs. Ceremony Start Time

Bride with her bridesmaid preparing for the wedding ceremony to start

To clear this confusion once and for all, there is a big difference between arrival time and ceremony start time. If you’re worried that some guests will arrive late to your wedding, always mention the ceremony start time on the invitation.

Avoid putting an arrival time on the card. This way, your guests can easily estimate how long it will take for them to arrive before the ceremony starts. It will also ease your mind because you can arrive a little earlier and make time to meet and greet everyone.

Time Needed to Get Ready

Professional stylist applying makeup on young beautiful bride

As a bride or a groom, you are the main person of the day. Everyone’s attention will be directed at you the moment you walk into the venue. Hence, keeping your appearance looking good will be one of your biggest priorities.

It will take quite some time for you to put on the dress or suit, do your make-up and hair, and get all the bridesmaids and groomsmen ready. You also have to consider other factors including when the host and DJ will arrive, how long it will take for the caterers to arrange everything, and other programs during the whole day.

Guest and Bridal Party Arrivals

Bride and bridesmaids standing with bouquet in the hotel while preparing for wedding ceremony

If you have prepared rooms, and motels, or rented a few homestays so that your guests don’t have to find their own accommodations, then you have less to worry about as far as their arrivals are concerned.

However, if you can’t accommodate the guests near the venue, you will have to screen the guest lists and estimate how many people will stay further away.

Additionally, although you have prepared a complete hospitality package for your family or friends, some of them might not make it a day before the ceremony and they can only come on the actual date. Only then can you decide what time would be the best to start your wedding.

Venue Rules

White wedding reception venue with sea and mountains view

Every wedding venue has its own rules and regulations. Depending on the type of establishment, some might allow you to rent the whole space for the day. This will give you enough freedom to not worry about having to extend the ceremony until late evening.

However, if you choose to rent a wedding hall at hotels or other public properties, there might be a time limit that you must adhere to. It will be wise for you to plan the ceremony accordingly, just in case there are other events to fit into the itinerary such as the bouquet toss, garter toss, or even a dance.

Also, be sure to ask if the venue has been booked by other people for the next day. This way, you will know beforehand how much time has been allocated for you to use the space.

The Number of Guests

Intimate wedding ceremony with limited number of guests

The size of your wedding will also influence your decision in choosing the right time to start the wedding. For instance, if you have a large wedding, you might need to take more time to meet and greet your guests.

Your family and friends will also take their time to mingle and talk with each other. Most religious ceremonies will take up to one hour to finish while non-religious ceremonies usually last around fifteen to thirty minutes tops.

Then, you will also need to consider the time needed for the guests to enjoy the food and drinks. The last thing you want to avoid is having to rush and finish the reception abruptly.

On the flip side, if your wedding is small and simple, you can take a breather and be more flexible with your time. Still, you need to follow the timeline and make sure that everything is organized.

Photoshoot Session

Wedding guests. Bride and groom kissing after wedding ceremony and their photo session

Last but not least, taking photographs with your spouse, family, and friends is a must. Aside from videos, photos are the only way for you to look back and cherish all the moments you have during your wedding day. Most professional photographers that you hire will plan thoroughly to give you the best memories.

To get great portraits, there are a lot of external factors that will influence how the photos will turn out. These include ambient lighting, weather, background, and the position of each person during the session.

Having too much direct sunlight can cause the photos to become too bright while having too many shades can make the photos look dull. It is also quite challenging for the photographer to arrange a large group photo, especially if children and infants are included.

If the venue is small, you might have to move outdoors or other places to fit everyone in the portraits. Not to mention, if the guests also want to take pictures with you and your spouse, you will need to spare some extra time.

So, sit down and talk with your photographer about all the portraits and photos that you want to have taken during your wedding.

Final Thoughts

To make it easier, if you worry about arriving late at the ceremony, you can just simply ask the couple or their wedding planner and have them send a copy of the wedding itinerary.

In fact, some of them might print out or send a wedding invitation with a complete list of the timeline for each program. This way, you can easily gauge the time needed to dress and get ready for the ceremony.