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What time should the Ceremony commence?
How many of us like to be kept waiting? I've never met anyone who did.
It has become fashionable lately to state on wedding invitations a start time, which is actually considerably different to the actual start time. On the face of it, it sounds like a good idea; after all, we don't all have good time-keeping skills and if guests have arrived in advance of the ceremony time then they won't miss the ceremony, or will they? Perhaps they were intending to miss the ceremony anyway and just turn up at the reception?
In my experience it's not unusual to find guests arriving at the ceremony venue one hour prior to the stated start time on the wedding invitation. I guess the point I'm making is that if you really want to be there, then it's highly unlikely you'll arrive late. After you've attended a few ceremonies where you find the groom has almost chewed off his fingers waiting for his bride to arrive. Or where guests have begun melting in the hot afternoon sun and children who start whining to their parents because their attention spans have almost well and truly been exhausted; it's time to question the correctness of this trend. Is it fair to put an incorrect time on wedding invitations so that everyone will think the ceremony is starting earlier than it is, just to accommodate a few late-comers?
Let's look at it from the another perspective. For the majority of guests who arrive on time, they are now being punished for the sake of a possible few tardy guests. It hardly seems fair. It also puts the celebrant in the awkward situation of having to explain why the ceremony is not starting on time and I can't help think that in the minds of the guests it does give a poor overall impression of the celebrant's time management skills, even though the delay of a ceremony these days would almost never be due to a celebrant arriving late.
Whilst I would delay the start of a ceremony if a close friend or family member of the bride or groom had not yet arrived when the ceremony was scheduled to get underway, I do think as a general rule we should respect our guests, our bridal party and our celebrant by starting at the time which is stated on the invitations. Then, if by some chance there is an unexpected delay, at least it's genuine and understandable.
This article was written by Robbie Fincham, Civil Celebrant (Melbourne)
Photograph courtesy of Lars Paysen. Kristy and Luke, The Vines, Coldstream, March 2012