Why is it that guests come so late to weddings? Is it because they want to skip the ceremony and go directly to the reception or the dinner? Is it because they just can't get their act together well enough to get anywhere on time? Is it because they don't have a watch? Is it because their mothers didn't teach them better? The questions could go on and on. The point is, many people arrive late at weddings, and it is often disappointing to the bride and groom that some of their best friends and closest relatives didn't get to hear their "I do's." Of the several hundred weddings at which I have officiated, I can count on my fingers the number of weddings that started with all the guests present. Sometimes the wedding has been delayed thirty or forty minutes to let the guests arrive. Even after such a delay, some guests still came in after the ceremony was over.

Guests and family, unless you have experienced some type of real emergency, it's inexcusable to be late for someone's wedding. It is such a special day and, if you have been invited, it means they want to share it with you. Not only is your arriving after the ceremony has started not considered fashionably late, but it is disruptive as well and just plain rude.

So brides and grooms, let me tell you a little secret that couples all over the country are following: put the starting time on the invitation thirty minutes earlier than the time you plan to walk down the aisle. This will allow for the stragglers, the procrastinators and those who plan to be late to be seated before the ceremony starts. This is especially important if the ceremony is planned to coincide with the sunset, the ringing of the chimes on a church tower near by as it announces the time, or the spurting of a fountain that's timed to go off every-hour-on- the hour.

The only people who need to know the actual starting time of the ceremony are those who have a specific function - the site manager or caterer, the photographer and musicians, and the officiant. (At www.yourscottsdalewedding.com you can see more about the job of the officiant).They will be there at a time they know is important for them to be thee to get their job done. If you have them coming a half hour earlier than you need them to, you will incur an added expense from those working "by the hour" and your officiant will simply have to sit and wait until it's almost time for the ceremony to begin.

So if you really want your guests seated prior to the processional, set the time stated on the invitation for a half hour earlier than it will really start.