The most important part of planning your wedding is the time the ceremony starts.
And almost everyone who asks me to conduct their wedding is really clear from the outset that their ceremony absolutely has to start at X o’ clock, because they’ve got a tight timetable, and everything else that happens during the rest of the day and evening depends on the ceremony running like clockwork.
I entirely understand. And you may remember that when Miss Kate Middleton married young Master Windsor the other month, she turned up at the doors of Westminster Abbey at precisely 11.00 a.m.
But it seems that the Countess of Strathearn (as she is now known to us in Scotland) is the exception that proves the rule.
Yes, we all know that it’s the bride’s prerogative to be late, and I agree with Debrett’s (the ultimate guide to etiquette), that a fashionable five minutes is perfectly acceptable. But some brides are really pushing it, and turning up, ten, fifteen, and even twenty minutes late. And then spending a further ten minutes having an impromptu photo shoot outside the venue before making their grand entrance.
It’s easy for the bride to get carried away with all the excitement of her big day, so I try to be understanding. But I can also sympathise with the Brazilians, whose Zero Tolerance policy costs latecomers $300!
But here’s the thing. If you’re half an hour late, the musicians may have run out of music, (and that drives them mad, as you can see from this message board!).
More importantly, by the time you arrive, your elderly relatives have been sitting waiting for you for at least 45 minutes. That can mean they’ve got more pressing concerns on their minds during the ceremony than listening to your well-chosen words. They need to go to the bathroom…
Of course, sometimes brides are late through no fault of their own.
Not only did Nicola’s wedding car break down, but so did the one that was sent as a replacement, so eventually she had to grab a cab!
It’s not always the bride who’s late.
The longest I’ve ever had to wait for a wedding to begin was an hour and a half – and that was because we were all waiting for the groom!
But please – for all our sakes – when the time comes and it’s your turn, do try to be on time. As Louis XVIII said, Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings…