Tick Tock

I was reading this post over at WeddingBee this morning and it got me to thinking.

My fiance’ will be the first to tell ya’ll that I am not always the most punctual of folks. In fact, there have been some arguments intense discussions over my timeliness (or lack there of, sometimes).

But it raises an important issue for discussion: At what point do you have to lock people out of your wedding ceremony because they are late? I don’t mean lock them out or delay their entrance in an ugly acting way but in the sense that if they are allowed entrance it would be disruptive during the ceremony?

This is something that especially important for me because we are having the ceremony and reception all in one place, which is a 3300 square foot ballroom. There is one entrance into it. So, anyone who comes in after our ceremony begins will probably be noticed. We will have a security officer and I will have a day of coordinator. Do we put them on ‘bouncer’ duty??

I don’t know and I will have to talk to my venue contact and my DOC about this further.

From the guest perspective, what is the latest a wedding you’ve been to has started?

Is it disruptive to you when other guests arrive late?

Have you been to a wedding where other guests got “locked out” because they were tardy??


19 thoughts on “Tick Tock

  1. Hmmm I’ve been late to one wedding. It was an out of town one and I was late because I was lost. I walked in and distracted the guests because some of them turned around and gave me that look. You know the look that they give people who show up to important events late. lol! I am a very punctual person so I would probably tell people my ceremony started at 3 while it was really starting at 3:30. At 3:31 no would would be allowed in. So if you think it’ll be distracting I would have people wait until the ceremony was over to enter the ball room.

  2. My cousin’s wedding last month started on time…if you didn’t make it, you waited outside until the bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring bearers, flower girls, father and bride had made their way down the aisle.

  3. I’ve never been late to a wedding (cuz I like to get a good seat on the aisle for pics) but I think most of the time late comers just sneak in the back. I think other than the processional down the aisle and the vows, people should be able to sneak into a seat without being noticed.

    I would def. ask the coordinator at your venue, I’m sure they’ve dealt with it before.

  4. I don’t know if anyone came late to our wedding or not. I’m guessing not, but honestly I don’t know. Really? I wasn’t paying attention to anyone but Smoochy.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding where guests were locked out because of tardiness. Most ceremonies are what 10, 15 minutes? If you’re too late, you miss it.

    I was late for a wedding last summer and realized that if I entered I’d disrupt the ceremony. I sat down outside and waited ’til the ceremony was over and then mixed and mingled for the reception.

  5. You are well within your rights to either not seat latecomers or make them stand at the back until in makes sense to seat them.

    This is church. And just like Sunday service we will start when the “bells chime the hour” at 4:00. And, just like the ushers do in church – our DOC will allow latecomers to enter and sit when there’s a logical break that won’t disrupt the service , i.e. singing versus during prayer, sermon, or vows.

    @ Tazzee…Totally going to steal Ninjas! *snort*

  6. I have attended weddings that started at least 2 hours late. I think mine was 15 minutes late because I had to fire the limo driver.

    I once attended a wedding and the processional started over because the bride’s mother was late.

    I was on my way to a wedding and fell asleep in my driveway. 2 hours later I called a cousin and was told it had not begun. I think the groom was hungover and sick.

    If it’s in a ballroom you may be able to direct late
    comers to stand at the back. They know to
    hush. If they had to look for assigned seating it
    would be chaos.

    If you plan to start on time and will lock people out now is the time to get the word out.

  7. Girl, my college friends laughed at me at my wedding, because that mug started ON TIME. You didn’t make it? Well, you knew what time it started playa…it’s on that invitation that you’re holding in your hand. Didn’t think the negroes would start on time…oops on you.

  8. I was the bouncer for my brother’s wedding and yes, I slipped my grandmother our room key so she could go sit down instead of standing in the hallway. The procession had started and no one was allowed in per the coordinator. But that side of our family is ALWAYS late.

  9. I have issues with punctuality as well, but I have never been late to a wedding. Even when they started on time. I also like to get to movies before the previews. I have issues. anyway, I have been to weddings that started well over an hour late. 2 I remember vividly were outside in August. What you could do is have your DOC or ushers/hostess (if you are having them) encourage people to fill in towards the front as much as they can as they arrive. This will prevent people having to walk down the aisle looking for seats.
    I would not let anyone in while you are saying your vows.

    One thing you could do is after the ceremony begins just let people in as a group while someone is singing if there is an interlude or something during the ceremony. Another thing you could do is not begin the processional until like 5 or 10 minutes after the stated start time to allow for late comers, running back to the car for the camera, etc. Or you could just lock everyone out after a certain time and put a warning on your website BUT inevitably someone important who you will least expect will be delayed a few minutes beyond their control.

    My friend planned to be coming down the aisle right at 5, the time on the invite, and she was right on time but she sure did have people come down the aisle behind her damn near stepping on her dress. It was some of the groom’s family. She intended to send people upstairs after 5 but no one had the heart to tell this particular family member. So everyone who came late was allowed where ever they wanted to sit.

    If someone comes 30 minutes late, they should expect to miss most of the ceremony. It’s a wedding! and the actual ceremony is not that long compared to the rest of the day. I think if a wedding starts at a certain time, people arrive excepting to see the entire processional, not just the bride coming down. Well maybe this is just how I think but if you are arrive during the processional you are kinda in the way if it is a larger wedding party. trying to scoot to your seat in between bridesmaids, etc.

  10. I sang in a wedding that started over an hour late. And it was outside in August.

    I’ve been to weddings where the latecomers had to sit in the balcony and even that was a distraction.

    It is not rude to lock folks out. This is a ceremony, not game night. Ninjas need to be on time. And you are NOT hosting a “party”, it’s a CEREMONY! I can’t comprehend folks that think it’s perfectly OK to show up late. They wouldn’t be late for a job interview would they? And your day is on a Sunday, traffic shouldn’t be an issue.

    Being late to a wedding is VERY disrespectful and, IMO shows how someone feels about witnessing your nuptials. RSVPs are due almost a month in advance. If they can’t plan that far ahead, they need to stay home. Emergencies are understandable. Otherwise, lock them out.

    I like what MrsTDJ said. The rule should apply to all.

  11. Every wedding I have been to and been in has had late guests. Once the first person walks down that aisle, it’s a wrap. Put a live television feed on the outside of the ballroom and only let people in during the cocktail hour–if you’re having on and then again AFTER you’ll have had your first dance, sang the Sweetheart song, etc.

  12. I have been to a wedding were guests were locked out just prior to the bride’s entrance and walk down the aisle. They let them in after but there were so many people (that made no attempt to make a quiet entrance) that it just became annoying.

    I agree with Psonya, any disruption (late guest, a baby crying, someone rifling around in their purse looking for a piece of gum, cell phone ringing, etc) will cause other guests to divert their attention from the main attraction.

    I say if their late, lock all their asses out and throw away the key…at least until after the ceremony is over. 🙂

  13. From my event planner perspective: I’ve served as “bouncer” for many a ceremony. Usually, I talk with the couple regarding their wishes. If it appears that a great # of guests are running late, most couples will delay about 10-15 minutes. After that, I’m on the mindset that unless it’s a venue where your entrance won’t be seen or heard, later guests wait until after the ceremony.

    One word of advice/caution. Hard lines are ok, but I would discourage soft ones.
    Example – Firm: wedding starts at 6pm on the dot, no late folks. Soft – wedding starts at 6pm, but my great Aunt Bertha isn’t here yet. Don’t let anyone but her in, ok? Um actually, NOT ok. Very difficult to play favorites at the door. I understand not wanting to get married with your sister, brother, mother, cousin, auntie, grandpa, etc, but you kinda have a choice to make. 1) Go on without the person(s) in question or 2)wait for the person and anyone else that may happen to arrive with/around the same time.

  14. Tim is military. We will start on time, and he has requested that people not be allowed to enter if they come late. Plus, at our wedding, there will be no way to enter without disturbing EVERYBODY if you come late. You will have to walk through everybody to get to the elevator, and THEN you’ll have to take the elevator. That is made of glass. That everyone can see. Or you will have to open and close a door to go up the stairs. No ma’am, no sir.

    I really don’t care if people think it’s rude or if anyone gets pissed off. I went to the trouble of inviting you and paying for your azz to eat, so apparently I wanted you to be there. This is the 20 minutes that mean the most to me in my entire life, and you walking in will not disturb it. You could have at least shown me the respect of getting there on time.

  15. I am of the belief that being late is a choice. For that reason I would never interrupt a ceremony if I were late…even if there weren’t someone there preventing me from going in.

  16. I’m really surpised by the question. I’ve never seen a late guest disrupt a ceremony. Typically, the entire church/venue isn’t full with every seat taken, so I don’y see how that is an issue. People should not enter when the bride is walking down the aisle (of course) but other than that, all eyes should be on the happy couple.

    I’ll be completely honest. I’ve been to one wedding were coordinators “locked” people out of the ceremony. I thought it was extremely rude/tacky. Especially since the couple kept guests waiting at the reception (without food/beverage) for more than an hour while pictures were taken. If you can have someone on hand to keep people out, you can have someone on hand to direct latecomers to a seat.
    People come to a wedding to celebrate the joining of two lives. Hopefully the people that one invites are people that love and care about the couple. Why one would treat a guest so poorly escapes me.

    I know wedding are stressfull events but this would be a non-issue for me. You are hosting a party. After the festivities, you aren’t going to remember who showed up late to the ceremony.

    • @Sherri: I don’t understand how you are surprised by the question because I think it’s a legitimate one to ask. Everyone has folks in amongst their families or friends who are KNOWN for being notoriously late. And based on the set up of MY reception, it could be a problem.

      It’s probably a lot easier if I was getting married in a church but I’m not which is why I asked.

    • I’ve been to plenty weddings. Weddings are quiet, they are sacred, they include prayer and paying attention. No matter what you’re supposed to be doing or looking at, people coming in late does distract other people. They can almost always be seen or heard, and inevitably someone will turn around to look at what the noise is. Whether it’s a huge disruption or a small one, it’s unnecessary.

      If you arrive late, then you should be prepared to suffer the consequences of being late. You might just miss what you came for. Win some, lose some.

  17. Yes I have and no, I didn’t find it to be rude. Since your wedding and reception are in the same place, ONE late guest can disrupt your whole ceremony. And for some reason, the late folks NEVER find their seats in a quiet and orderly manner. You need to consider doing a lockout 5 to ten minutes before you start your walk.
    ***I sure do hope Dee and I aren’t the ones who wind up being late.

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