This Is How Late You Should Show Up To Your Wedding

A debate to divide genders and generations. Some people love this tradition, others can’t stand it, and some even take bets on how late the bride will be to the wedding.

In a lot respects I am an absolute stickler for tradition, I would never propose to my partner and when my wedding day comes along I will be armed with my somethings old, new, borrowed and blue. So, I was keen to find out how it even became tradition for a bride to be late to her own wedding. Apparently it stems from the idea that it was always the groom’s duty to lead his lady into married life, and so he has to be at the altar first.

Whether you’re traditional or not, there’s also something called etiquette and I think some brides get caught up in this tradition and forget about how their guests might feel sitting waiting for them to arrive. You have to additionally factor in the notion that pretty much all wedding guests will start arriving at least 30 minutes before the time on their invitation, so if you’re half an hour late this means your guests have been sat there for an hour altogether (not to mention for the rest of the ceremony). In all honesty, I think this is probably a little too much.

I’m all for brides taking their time to get ready, have a few photos with the bridesmaids and just generally calm the nerves, but you have to think about how your husband-to-be feels standing at the altar waiting for you all that time. I mean not only does he have to worry that you’re not going to turn up (don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t actually happen, because it does), but his legs are going to be killing by the time you arrive from standing there for so long. Given that a bride will never be a groom, let me sum this up for you another way so you can understand how he feels. Have you ever stood at a bus stop waiting for a bus that should be arriving in 5 minutes and actually doesn’t arrive for another 25? On your wedding day, you are that bus. And you know how annoyed we all get at late buses…

I mean aside from where the tradition started, I think that part of the reason why brides like to be late is because it builds a bit of anticipation. We all like to hype it up a bit, for people to want us to arrive so much that when the moment arrives it seems so much sweeter somehow. It becomes a competition between you and your family as to who can crane their neck to the back of the room for the longest to get the first sight of the bride. I mean you’ve seen the bride even before the groom has seen his bride! How exciting is that?! Don’t pretend you haven’t done it.

But you have to bear in mind with creating anticipation that this only works up until a certain point, and then guests begin getting irritated or thinking there’s a problem. The last thing you want during cocktail hour is to have your grandma and your aunties asking whether you were having second thoughts!

As a wedding planner, I can tell you that wedding days are coordinated minute by minute. Everything is accounted for, which means that suppliers, like your caterers, can be given a very exact time at which food should be served. A schedule is drawn up in advance, and obviously is subject to change depending on what’s happening on the wedding day. Wedding planners and coordinators always prepare for timings to be pushed back by about 30 minutes, in total, and everyone involved from the venue to the band will know this. But that is in total - it accounts for traffic in getting from the ceremony to the venue, to photographs running over time, and for the speeches to be as long as everyone wants to make them. If you arrive 30 minutes late to your wedding, this means that everything will end up being pushed back by an hour. If you only have your venue to a certain time in the evening, then that timing will not change - you will simply lose an hour of your wedding day. All for the sake of being slightly late?

15 minutes is probably the maximum amount of time that you can push it before it impacts on the schedule, the guests and the groom; 10 is probably better. And if you are going to be late by 10 minutes then that’s the point where you should be at the top of the aisle ready to walk. So if you’re waiting somewhere in the venue before making your way to the ceremony space, remember to factor in walking time to your lateness.

For some brides it’s simply the act of getting ready and wanting to look their very best that causes them to be late. If you know you are someone who is always late to parties or nights out, because of how long getting ready takes you, then get the hair and makeup artist to come even earlier than you originally planned for on your wedding day. Hey, if she finishes early you have the chance for an extra glass of bubby, and to be on time! Then you’re all winners.

Charlotte xoxox