How to Be Properly “On Time” | Manners & Etiquette | Meredith Sweetpea


Plan ahead to be on time.

What is the meaning of “on time?” For different occasions it can mean different things.

Being on time is good etiquette, whether in personal or business situations. It also reflects upon you, as a person, whether you know it or not. People make judgements about you based on your choices, and lateness (unless it is caused by some unforeseeable circumstance) is a choice. Punctuality demonstrates that you value the other person and their time, and that you value yourself.

What Does Being On Time Mean?

Sometimes being “on time” means getting there just a little bit early, and sometimes it means you have a little leeway in your arrival time. Here are some examples to illustrate the correct etiquette for arriving at any event:

Arrival Time for Ceremonies: Wedding and Otherwise

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for any formal ceremony. The ushers will need time to seat all the people who arrive before the ceremony begins. If you do arrive late, wait until the entire bridal party or guests of honor are in place before sliding quietly into a back or side seat.

Arrival Time for Cocktail Parties

Cocktail parties are a little more laid back, so plan on arriving within the first 15 minutes (up to 30) or so if there is a formal start date.

Arrival Time for Open Houses

When someone holds an open house (business or personal), plan on arriving within the first hour. The food and drinks will be fresh, and the hosts will be excited to see everyone there together.

Arrival Time at Dinner Parties

It’s customary to arrive either just at the hour, or up to 15 minutes late for a dinner party. Never arrive early, or you could catch your host in his or her bathrobe!

Arrival Time for Restaurant Dates

If you are meeting someone at a restaurant for a meal, plan on arriving about five minutes early. Never be more than 5 minutes late without calling.

Arrival Time for Movies and Plays

Plan on arriving about 10 to 15 minutes early for either movies or plays. You’ll want to gather with your friends and be able to select your seats while the lights are still up. Plus, you’ll want to allow time for the popcorn line.

Arrival Time for Interviews

If you’re the one being interviewed, it is best to arrive about 15 minutes early, in order to settle yourself down and possibly check your appearance in the mirror.  There’s nothing worse for your potential career than rushing in out of breath for an interview. Being early also demonstrates your eagerness to make a good impression.

What Happens When You Can’t Be On Time?

Call!  With the proliferation of cell phones and nationwide coverage, there’s no reason to leave your friends, coworkers and family waiting.


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