*Just a note for my local readers: This post will be in the Sulphur Springs News Telegram in my column in the near future. However, since I’ve been asked this question multiple times now, I wanted to make sure I addressed it here, too!
Reader Question: What is the appropriate amount of time to arrive before or after an event’s designated start time?
I’m so glad you asked! Being fashionably late is often considered rude to your hosts. The variance of time in which you’re allowed to arrive will vary based on the event.
If an event is come-and-go, you are welcome any time during the designated time. You may show up 5 minutes prior to an event, but it wouldn’t be courteous to your hosts to show up after the designated end of an event.
If your event has a specific start time, such as a dinner party, you should show up no more than five minutes late. Up to 10 minutes prior to the start is appropriate, unless a specific time for drinks was allotted. In that case, you shouldn’t appear early to the event.
For weddings, you may show up to 30 minutes prior to the wedding, as the wedding time given is when the event would begin, and you wouldn’t want to accidentally walk down the aisle after the bride has made her entrance.
As a general rule, 5 minutes prior to a “recurring event” (any event other than weddings or funerals) is most appropriate. If you are going to someone’s house, it would be just as rude to show up thirty minutes before the dinner party as it would be to show up thirty minutes late.
Of course, like every rule in the world, there are exceptions to this. If you are traveling over an hour and a half, you have more leeway in your arrival time, as you must take into consideration traffic. Additionally, in the event something happens that is unavoidable (a wreck that causes traffic to stop, for example), it is perfectly appropriate to call your host and explain your situation. I would encourage you to state to not wait on you, especially if there are other guests, and that you’ll be there as soon as you possibly can.
Thank you for the question, and I appreciate your readership!