Ask Carley: Okay to use a fake start time on the invitation?

Q:

I've heard that you should use a fake time on the wedding invitations -- 30 minutes earlier than the actual start time -- to ensure that everyone is on time to the wedding. The only problem is that if we put 6:30 p.m., I would assume people will arrive between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.; if we say 6:00 p.m., then I'm afraid guests will arrive as early as 5:30 and then sit there for an hour beforehand. What's the best way to handle this?

A:

Good question! The answer varies depending on who you talk to but generally speaking, it's not a good idea to give guests a fake start time on the wedding invitation because as you pointed out, you could end up with guests sitting at the ceremony for an hour beforehand! That said, if your family or friends are known for being late, there are a couple ways to get away with using a fake ceremony start time on the invite (and not annoying your on-time guests). The key is to provide food, drinks, and entertainment. So ask ceremony musicians to start a little earlier, provide preceremony waters, sparkling lemonade, or cider, and add a fun crossword puzzle or word search to the ceremony program so that guests who actually did arrive early aren't bored. ( Here's a really cute crossword puzzle program you could copy. ) To really keep guests in-the-know, note the exact start time of the ceremony at the bottom in smaller font size with something like, “Ceremony to start at 6:30 with refreshments provided beforehand." Hope this helps!