As a new wedding season begins it’s time to talk again about wedding etiquette.
There is a very old notion about brides – that they are always late and it’s ok! Really? Since when do we think it is appropriate to keep invited guests, many who have traveled great distances to your wedding, waiting? Unless there are extenuating circumstances, a late wedding start signals two things to me: poor planning or a lack of respect for a whole lot of people.
The good news is that most brides are on time and very considerate of their guests and service providers. Since I became the Wedding Coordinator 4 years ago for Niagara Falls Wedding World, I’ve handled over 1000 weddings and have been present for at least half of them. I am happy to report that for the most part brides are on time. In truth, it’s usually a guest who is late, stuck in traffic or lost.
Yet, we all have horror stories about brides being late. There are a couple that stand out in my mind. One was when both the bride and groom were over an hour late! Their relatives were panic stricken thinking they were dead in a car accident! In truth, they were at the casino!
Recently I heard another story from one of our officiants where the bride had her wedding at a lovely conservatory but she was almost 2 hours late! When she finally arrived, half her guests had left!
We like to think that the wedding day is all about the bride, but in reality, it’s not. There is so much more going on which brides need to remember. Every late minute affects so many other people including your guests, the officiant, the musicians, the photographer and videographer, your caterers and even the location where your wedding is taking place.
With our busy modern lives many times people have to fit a few events into an already busy day.Your guests may have to drive a long way back home, they may even have to go to work. The officiant may have another wedding or even an unexpected funeral. Many times photographers, videographers and musicians have other weddings to go to as well that day. I have seen these service providers leave to move on to their next engagement and they can’t be blamed for that!
As well, your caterer is on a strict timeline so that everything is ready to go out to your tables for your dinner at the right moment. If you are an hour late for the ceremony or even just half an hour, it can throw everything off in the cooking process and could even ruin an appetizer. Venues and officiants will often have more than one ceremony booked and if you are more than 30 minutes late (sometimes as little as 15 minutes) you can expect to get bumped to the next available time slot and/or charged an additional fee. I know it sounds harsh but everyone is on a tight schedule during wedding season!
So what can you do to make sure that you don’t ruin your day by being late? Here are a few tips that come from my experiences with weddings:
1. Make a list of everything you are doing the day of the wedding, at what time it is scheduled to take place and how long it will take. This includes hair, makeup, lunch, travel time. If you’re getting ready 20 minutes away from your location, plan to be ready to go 30-40 minutes ahead to allow for last minute adjustments, etc. I recommend a wedding planning book as a must have accessory! And please make sure your driver knows exactly where s/he is going. I’ve seen a lot of lost limo drivers!
2. Ask your hair stylist, makeup artist, etc how long things will take. Knowing that your hair will take 2 hours and will run into your make up time is good to know. Move appointments to earlier in the day if your schedule shows that you might be late for the ceremony. And don’t forget, you are probably not the only bride having her hair and makeup done that day! So don’t be late for these appointments either. Have your cell phone with you and call your service providers if you are running late.
3. Don’t party hearty the night before your wedding. Its seems to be a tradition that rehearsal dinners take place the night before and now even the bachelor/ette party. This is not the best idea. Book rehearsals and dinners two nights before and plan other parties 2-3 weeks before. The night before the wedding, relax, take a long bath, and go to bed early – and not drunk. In fact, you should avoid excessive alcohol a few days before the wedding. Both alcohol and a late night will dry out your skin and makes you look older. You want to look fresh with no dark circles under your eyes or bloodshot eyes! You have a long day ahead and you’ll need all the energy you can get.
4. Have everything laid out the night before and make a list for this too. Have your dress, jewelry, the licence, the rings, your shoes all set to go. Also, get everyone’s cell phone number. Check the weather forecast and have things like an umbrella ready if the weather is not looking great. Don’t forget your glasses in case you loose a contact and, if your plan is to be taking photos without your glasses please remember to bring them to sign the license! Pack anything you think you may need, even some non-drowsy antihistamines if your allergies are acting up. Leave yourself enough time just in case you need to make an emergency stop at the drugstore!
5. Relax! This of course, is easier said then done. If you have ever read or watched ‘The Secret’ they give a great example of how rushing spirals out of control. Just thinking that you are running late, makes you late. It starts off simple by sleeping in. This stresses you out. So you run to the bathroom, but because you rushed, you stub your toe . . . and the spiral just keeps going. So, if you are running late take the time to count to ten slowly, breath in deeply and then go.
6. If you are running late, tell someone. Everybody runs a bit late, especially on a big day. But what’s worse, is being the person who is waiting for you and not knowing what’s going on – remember the couple who everybody thought was in a car accident?If your ceremony is 4 pm and you know you will be arriving at exactly 4 pm, call someone who is there. Get the phone number of your officiant, the photographer, the coordinator, anyone who’s day really is revolving around your wedding and tell them, “I will be 15 minutes late, sorry about this!” Not only does it go along way in showing you’re considerate of other people but it allows everyone working in the background to adjust accordingly. Most people are accommodating when they are given a heads up.
Let me end by offering my own personal saying. I am one of those people who is always on time, in fact I’m early. I always say: “If I’m early I’m on time, if I’m on time I’m late, if I’m late, then I will give you a call, if there’s no call, I’m dead in a ditch!”
All the best with having an on-time wedding! Jordin