The 5 Most Common Reasons Why Ceremonies Start Late


Let’s be honest, it’s a rarity that a wedding ceremony actually starts on time. In fact, the national average is 11 minutes late. As the top Fort Collins wedding DJ and my personal observation of over 1,500 Colorado weddings personally performed, mostly in Estes Park and northern Colorado, yes, an 11 minute delay WILL likely happen. You can set your watch by it…for real! The bigger the wedding party, the later it will start.

Outside of weather considerations (which are common), what else causes delays?

The 5 Most Common Reasons Why Ceremonies Start Late

5) Travel (hired transportation), traffic, and / or underestimated travel times. One recent wedding, there was an accident that caused a 35 minute delay with the ceremony for the bride’s parent’s to arrive. The next day, the Vice President flew in un-announced for a campaign speech, and completely closed the interstate. We only had 20 out of 110 guests there at the scheduled start time. That wedding started an hour and fifteen minutes late. Another recent wedding, the limo had a flat tire and the bride and groom arrived 45 minutes late.

4) Not allowing enough time to get ready. That’s right! The wedding party simply isn’t ready, including the bride. At a recent wedding, the wedding ceremony started 65 minutes late because the bride and her girls simply weren’t ready. The same can also happen on the groom’s side too; although not nearly as common.

3) Key family members are late. We see this one a lot! I mean A LOT! Sometimes though, it’s not that the family wants to be late, but rather, they just don’t know (or haven’t been told) when to be there. More often than not, it’s just poor communication or bad planning on the part of the bride and groom. Some advice: waiting to tell key family at the end of the rehearsal dinner when to arrive for photos is way too late. This needs to be done a month prior so they can plan too.

2) Planning too many family or group photos. At a recent wedding, the bride was upset that the pre-ceremony family photos were taking longer than planned. However, she didn’t accept the fact that her 5 page list of “must have wedding photos” she handed to her Estes Park wedding photographer created the 45 minute delay. So, being realistic on wedding photos is a must.

1) The biggie: brides maids and the bride are at the salon doing hair and make up…and taking forever. This is the single biggest cause of delays. All too often, ladies want to all ride to the salon together. However, rather than driving separately, they all ride together. Now, when one isn’t ready for pick up, then the next, and the next, it snowballs and all the ladies are late. The solution? Drive separately, or only with one other person. Be advised, according to numerous salons interviewed, in most cases, the bridal entourage is about 20 to 25 minutes late every time. This is terrible! Being late pushes everything back the whole day…the first look photos, ceremony start time, post ceremony photos, dinner, toast, etc. Literally everything!

Sometimes, timelines are simply delayed at weddings because of something beyond anyone’s control, like an accident, weather, medical emergency, etc. These things happen no matter how much you’ve planned, so the key, is to take care of what you can with good planning and communication. It’s about being punctual, and having realistic expectations.