What Time Should Guests ACTUALLY Arrive at a Wedding?

what time should wedding guests arrive
Photo by Elizabeth Burgi

If you’re a wedding guest or a bride or groom, you might be wondering what time guests should plan on arriving at the wedding. A general rule of thumb is to arrive 15-30 minutes before the time it states on the wedding invitation (definitely closer to 30 if it’s a larger wedding). Of course you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to account for traffic, etc. And please, please, take this advice if you’re a wedding guest: While it might be tempting to get there super early to be safe, it can potentially be inconvenient to the couple who might be taking first look or pre-wedding photos. This happened to me, actually, and even though the guests who arrived a whole 1 hour+ before the invitation time were super sweet, it stressed me out at the time because a) I didn’t want anybody to see me in my dress yet (besides my wedding party/groom/family) AND we were already running behind a tight photo schedule and stopping to say hello to them threw things off a bit. Not a big deal, but honestly it was a bit annoying at the time!

SEE MORE: This tool will help you figure out the perfect wedding invitation wording

As a bride, you should plan on starting your ceremony 15-30 minutes after the time that’s stated on your invitation. Some people are against this, but I’ve seen a lot of brides wish that they padded their timeline by that amount due to late guests. Not that you should wait an indefinite amount of time, but most wedding planners and coordinators will tell you that padding your ceremony start time at least 15 minutes to account for stragglers is never a bad idea. If everybody is seated and ready to go by your listed wedding invitation time, then that’s great! Go for it.

Do you have a wedding day timeline in place yet? Check out this sample wedding reception timeline to make sure you’re on track!

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