Here’s a question I hear A LOT: “When should our wedding party arrive to the church/ceremony site?”
For simplicity purposes, I’m going to assume that this timeline does not include time for pictures at the ceremony site before it begins. If you are doing photos prior to, be sure to adjust accordingly.
The Groomsmen/Team Groom
If your groomsmen are also serving the roles of ushers (which they usually are), they should arrive 45-60 minutes prior to the ceremony starting. This gives them time to get their boutonnieres pinned on, get in position and greet that very first guest that arrives. Also make sure your program attendants are there around that same time as well (if the groomsmen are not taking on that role).
The Groom usually arrives around the same time as the groomsmen along with his Best Man.
photo by We Laugh We Love
Parents & Grandparents
VIP Parents should arrive 20-30 minutes before the ceremony. Traditionally, they are the last ones to be seated before the wedding party begins the processional, so arriving too early just means extra standing at the start of a long day full of nerves and excitement.
Grandparents should arrive 15-20 minutes before the ceremony. As with the parents, no need for any unnecessary waiting. I should also say that often when the immediate family is waiting around near the entrance, guests will stop and chat. This makes it difficult to all the guests seated and the ceremony started on time. It’s great to chat and catch up, but keep the convo short and sweet!
I will say that it’s best to let your Parents and Grandparents decide when they prefer to arrive. Some will prefer to be early, while others will prefer to arrive last-minute. Unless your family is the “always late” type, try to give them this flexibility.
photo by Tami and Ryan Photography
Finally, the ladies of the wedding party. They should be the last to arrive around 5-15 minutes before the ceremony is to start. The bridesmaids will get lined up, followed by the Bride for the big entrance. Arriving too early risks the chances of being seen by all the guests.
photo by Danielle Coons
Now, if your church/chapel/ceremony site has a “holding room” that’s private and off to the side, then you can arrive earlier (30-45 minutes). But there is not always that possibility, so be sure to keep that in mind when planning your transportation schedule.