When Your Couple is Time-Challenged

Man looking at watch

Island time is code for don’t get yourself in a tizzy

Man looking at watch
Photo by Shamim Nakhaei on Unsplash.com

When you’re on the receiving end of this statement it means you’re dealing with someone who is time-challenged. He or she looks at the clock and the hands tell him or her the time they want it to be. Not the time it actually is!

If you’ve ever visited the Caribbean you’ve probably heard the expression, “island time”.

For the non-time challenged, this expression is code for “being late for an event is just how things are here in the islands. Chill. Have a Dos Equis or Corona.”

When I lived in Puerto Rico for 8 months, there were some folks who were known for being days, not just hours, (I kid you not) — but DAYS late.

The tizzy part? I didn’t do so well in that department.

Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a man who regularly showed up early for an event. Yes EARLY.

My mother was pretty much always on time. Dressed to the t’s and with a casserole in hand.

The early bird genes

No early bird genes were passed on to me from either side of the family. I’m the one who’s the most time-challenged in my family.

I’m the one who’s squandered the family punctuality genes. Yes, me, the one offering the good advice in this post.

You might assume I’d be more understanding of a bride who’s an hour late to her wedding.

Horrible traffic

Not too long ago on my way to officiate a local ceremony, the traffic was so horrible I called the groom. Just to be on the safe-side. “ I’ll still be there on time,” I told him. “Just not as ahead of time as I like.”

“Don’t worry,” he told me. “We’re really behind too.”

red flag waving for the time-challenged
Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash.com

A red flag popped up somewhere. “How behind?” I asked him.

“About 15 minutes,” he laughed. He sounded stressed.

“No worries,” I told him. “I’ll get there and check everything out. We’ll just wait.”

When I found the correct location, there were about 20 people standing around. I drifted through the crowd and sat down to go over the ceremony.

When I looked up, it was 15 minutes past the hour the ceremony was scheduled to take place.

Text #1

I sent a text to the bride. “Where are you at?”

“We’re 5 minutes away,” she said.

I shucked and jived with some guests who were rolling their eyes and looking at their watches.

Text #2

Eight minutes later I sent another text. “What’s up?” I asked.

No answer.

Curious, I asked one of the bride’s friends, “Is being late normal for her?”

“Oh yes, she runs late a lot,” chuckled a guy who was wearing a black shirt with big red flames rising from the hem. He turned out to be her Dad.

“Did you start that with her?” I joked with him. “Were you always late when she was a kid?”

He shook his head yes and I chided him, “See what you started? You made her this way! It’s all your fault!” He laughed and joked back about how he knew he was a bad role model.

Making the choice

At that point I had a choice to make. Wait for the bride from her fortress on her island of  time-challenges.

Or set a limit.

Because I’ve been in this situation before and truly, I’m better at managing my tizziness, I chose the latter. Limits were on their way.

The importance of telling the truth

What bothered me the most was that the bride was not telling the truth when she said she was 5 minutes away. I get that she  may have been embarrassed or didn’t want to get scolded for being late. She’d probably been scolded plenty in her time-challenged life.

But she had to expect being scolded. Everyone has something to do, somewhere to be.

The truth was, she hadn’t even left her house yet, which was about 10 minutes away. So she was lying. That kind of stuff REALLY bothers me I don’t care what the occasion.

Whether she was nervous, a bad planner, had too many distractions, these are all and none valid reasons for being late to her own wedding. If instead she’d come clean, and been truthful, I might have read another page of the Mueller Report while I waited.

Text #3

I chose to text her instead. “How are you coming? Getting closer?”

“Almost there,” she said.

“Good,” I said. “Because I have to leave at noon.”

I felt through the ethers that boundaries weren’t something she had to contend with often. People just allowed her to operate on Island time.

But something in her kicked into high gear. I could feel it.

Making good on a threat

Honestly I hoped I wouldn’t have to make good on my threat. I took a few moments to imagine myself walking away. It didn’t feel good but I decided I would trot my body out of there if I had to. The couple could come to my house and I’d officiate for them there later. They could still party and have a good time talking about what an awful a person I was.

Giving her these parameters wasn’t meant to be mean, but to make the point that other people’s time is part of the equation at any event. Agreements are agreements. Whether you’re on the mainland or an island.

And in 10 more minutes they showed up with 5 more minutes to spare.

Why was I there?

I was hired to do a job, and provide a valuable service. That’s why I was there with all the people I didn’t know who were tapping their foot, looking at their watches. I was not there to wait around for her to get her act together.

Although this was her and her fiancé’s day it was NOT the best of times to keep everyone waiting. As much as I didn’t want her wedding day to be marred by the boundaries I’d set if the worse case scenario unfolded, waiting an hour for a wedding to start is too much in my book.

The Pagan Initiation

A zillion years ago when I first started doing weddings,  I officiated a ceremony for people who identified themselves pagans. I’m up for the unique so I was eager to officiate.

The ceremony itself was way out in the country. There must have been 100 people waiting for the event to begin. It was muggy.

I overheard someone in a group of friends mention how she was always horribly late (aka time-challenged) and you just had to put up with it if you wanted to be her friend.

After an hour, even the people-pleaser in me had had enough. I asked a few people where the bride was. Someone guessed she was having trouble with her dress. On the second floor of the farmhouse.

I sought her out to see if I could help. What I found was she and her bridesmaids lounging in the bridal room drinking beer.

The dress was fine.

“If you’re not at the altar in 10 minutes, I’m leaving.”

She was. I officiated. The groom apologized and I felt bad for the lifetime ahead of him.

Being late is an unconscious method of controlling others

But that’s just me. I don’t like late late late. It makes me feel like someone is trying to control me and tell me they’re more important than I am.

I believe we’re equals. And deserve equal respect.

So you have to decide how long you’ll wait for a late bride or groom.

Aunt Mary is running late

You also have to be prepared to make a recommendation of how long to wait for a guest who’s important and is “running late.”

time-challenged older woman
Photo by Shamim Nakhaei on Unsplash

Some couples want to wait for 20 minutes for a treasured aunt who’s always late. Or someone who says they got lost.

In the meantime there’s 50-100 people waiting for that one person. The new star of the day…

That’s not okay with me. Honor the people who are there on time. Let Aunt Mary watch the video.

TO DO: Clarity in the contract

I’ve learned now to put in my contract that any wedding that starts more than ½ an hour late, a fee of $25 for each 15 minutes afterwards will be charged. After and hour has gone by, I’m going bye-bye.

The time-challenged have taught me well.

Be clear up front, and make your clients sign on the dotted line that they’ve read and understood the stipulation about time. Doing so is a good practice.

Beyond that, although every situation may be different, check out the Checklist I created that details how to identify and work with the following reasons island time has been invoked.

When your couple is time-challenged, you’re looking at

  1. Patterns.
  2. Extenuating circumstances.
  3. Honoring those present.
  4. The Domino affect.
  5. The Disease to Please.

I expand these points, and look at how and why to handle them in a PDF Checklist. You can grab it here:  When Your Couple is Time-Challenged

The gentle kind belief

The world’s made up of all kinds of people. Some are chronically late, others like my dad are early.

It’s up to you what you want to do. But make sure you don’t resent your couple later because they should have done better. If you’d been clear up front, could the situation have been improved?

Spell out what you’re able to do and what crosses the line.

That way you can focus on love, on joy and happiness. and on feeling you are respected for all you bring to a couple’s very special day, even those who are time-challenged and deeply in love.


Know Like and Trust
Crystal Yarlott, Officiant and Collaborator







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The Way You Look as an Officiant

First time wedding

The Way You Look

I think you’re beautiful,

This is true, first and foremost. I don’t care what your age is, whether you’re skinny, tall, overweight, bulky, baggy, saggy or boney. You’re a part of this world, and you’re beautiful.

Your situation may be far different from mine. You might not have the money to dress well (or want to), especially in the beginning of your career as an Officiant. It’s okay. You’re amazing. Look at all you’ve been through! What’s true about how you look and what it’s important, is because who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t see what you look like.

Now — remember how beautiful you are as I ask you:   how do you feel about the way you look when you officiate? Good? Unsure? Like a million or a couple of bucks?

All of it affects your confidence level. And people are drawn to confidence because they want it for themself. Confidence is a healing power, and a business building asset.

So let’s reexamine the expectations of the way you look outside as an Officiant first.

Next week we’ll talk about reinventing the way you think about yourself as an Officiant inside.

Reinventing the role

Reinventing the role of Officiant is making leaps and bounds up and down and all around these days. Examining the way you look as an Officiant is part of that reinvention process we’re in.

On one of my favorite podcasts, co-host Rev. Clint  tells about being asked to dress up like Elvis at one of his first weddings. He didn’t care for it and never did it again.

Las Vegas isn’t the only cool place in the country

Some of you may shout, “Oh contraire! I love to dress up, dress out, dress oddly.” Theme weddings are not only held in way cool Las Vegas or cultish New Orleans alone. You may have one in your own backyard!

FB Group research

You can see what other officiants are wearing in their posts in various FB groups. The clothes they wear ranges from super casual to robes with cleric collars, to a suit and tie, or an elegant dress. You can see some of us dressed in our choices in our Private Facebook Group.

(Side comment:  Any man of any age or size looks GREAT in a tuxedo.)

What you wear obviously reflects your knowledge of the couple you’re officiating for – whether their wedding is formal or casual, beachy or woodsy.

Going Too Far

I had a conversation with an Officiant on FB about her groom wearing a t-shirt that had profanity in big bold letters on it. You can read that rant, Why Our Officiant Relationship is Unique.

Her acceptance really took me aback but that may be what’s important to her — anything goes.

Few Basic Guidelines for the Way You Look

In any event, here’s some guidelines I use for this reason:  Officiants deserve to be a respected member of a couple’s wedding day. I have a hard time thinking that respect is being generated when the groom wears F__k on his shirt.

These suggestions can help you implement building a good reputation so you can feel more confident and are aware of your choices.

The way you look
Rosalind Lynch Church looking official in the middle but doesn’t overshadow the Bride

1. Never upstage the bride. Choose more conservative attire, even if you’re doing a theme-based ceremony.

a.  The bride and her partner need to be the center of attention. I’ve seen some officiants look so flashy that it almost looks like s/he is competing for attention. One example is a new officiant wore a cocktail gown with a low v-neckline. She was sexier and flashier than the bride who was quite overweight.

Wearing White

b.  Watch your own use of white and off-white. Even in contemporary weddings there seems to be a touch back to tradition that the bride is the only one wearing white or off-white.

2. Let your couple know what you like to wear and make sure they don’t have expectations that you’ll arrive looking like a pastor or conversely, a wild woman.


3.  Ask your couple if they have a preference for how you look and/or dress. Oklahoma Wedding Officiant
a.  One of my fellow officiant teams wants their couple to make a clothing preference choice for their wedding. They’ve got photos on their website of them dressed in each different optional outfit. I’ve heard others do this as well. I do not.
b.  Do you think you’re expected to wear a collar, a robe or a stole? Check with your couple first to see if this is really true. It’s pretty safe to say that many contemporary couples are absolutely fine with your wearing contemporary clothing.
c. Every couple is different. Some care, some absolutely don’t. Others WANT you to be comfortable whatever you wear.

4. Be prepared for nasty, windy, cold or stifling, hot, humid weather.
a.  If It’s cold, I always let the couple know being cold is my least favorite activity in the whole world. I warn them I may wear long pants and a raincoat, wool coat rather than my usual simple dress. I also make sure I know they are the center of attention, not me.

If It’s Hot

b.  When I’ve done a beach wedding (which is often synonymous with HOT, I always ask beforehand if it’s okay to wear flip-flops or go barefoot. A lot of couple’s end up kicking their shoes off or dressing down a notch or two when there’s a wedding at the water’s edge.
c.  Wear a hat to protect yourself from mid-day sun. Make sure you batten down the hatches if the weather forecast is supposed to be windy.

5.  Check your pearly whites.  I’m embarrassed to mention this. I’ve failed to look in the mirror with a smile to check for spinach and sesame seeds several times when I’m in a hurry.  Therefore,
a.  Floss or brush your teeth before you grab your ceremony and head for the wedding site.
b.  If you make videos for or about your couples, check your teeth, especially after meals and then get in front of the camera.

6.  Bless the wind. Full skirts? Do I need to tell you to prepare for your Marilyn Monroe above the sidewalk vent moment?

7. Don’t work in the garden before your wedding. OMG I’ve done this way too many times. Then I’m digging dirt out of my nails or trying to touch up nail polish as I’m walking into the venue. And yes, I took a shower! Digging in the dirt can be so rewarding but wait until you get back to pull those weeds or plant those sunflower seeds.

8. Put your outfit together and ready the day before. (Forgive me sounding like your mother…)
a. Make sure your outfit is ironed unless you like the wrinkled linen look. Even an inexpensive outfit looks better when it’s been freshly ironed. TIP:  Sometimes if I have a long drive to a wedding site, I’ll wear my jeans and change into my marryin’ outfit once I get to the location.
b. No spots, and is clean.
c. Women, if you wear them, make sure you always have an extra pair of nylons available. Those pesky runs probably aren’t going to be too distracting but still. I always feel better when I’m put together. (Hey that rhymes!)

Please leave a comment — gimme the shelter of feedback!!

Tell me what you think of these suggestions. What have you worn? Can you post a picture of yourself in what you usually wear on the blog or on the FB page? 

I’d love to see, and I’m sure other officiants who follow this blog would love to see what your wedding clothing is.

Want more ways to reinvent the traditional officiant role? Get the free download, 5 Stress Free Ways to Officiate an Unforgettable Wedding. Watch for it to pop up if it hasn’t already.

What did you get out of the post? Let me know.  Email me at crystal@officianttraining.com.

I look forward to hearing your stories about leading a couple in their I Do’s.


Rev. Crystal

For information on our new officiant prep online courses, fill out our simple Contact Us form. We’d love to hear from you!



How Not to Get Wedding Referrals

Wedding Referrals from the Homestead Resort

A Fabulous Place

In the area I live, there’s a multi-wedding site venue called The Homestead Resort. It’s a fabulous place to visit whether it’s for a wedding, or is just a weekend romp. For an Officiant, it’s the kind of place you want to get wedding referrals from.

It happens to be 35 miles from where I live.

There’s a two-lane highway there, with two three-lane passing zones in the hills.

Oh. I should mention there’s a big city, Traverse City, to be exact in between where I live and The Homestead. TC has a huge number of festivals and activities going on all summer and fall.

With lots of people from out-of-town visiting. It can take a while to get through town when it’s packed with tourists. And floats. And cars, trucks and bikes.

When I first started officiating, I didn’t know how unpredictable getting to The Homestead on a weekend could be.

A Good Reputation

I was smart enough to know building a good reputation as reliable with the folks who coordinated weddings there was a good idea. They could refer potential wedding couples to me. My first two weddings there went well and everyone involved seemed happy.

One particular sunny Saturday, I started out 50 minutes before the wedding was supposed to start, knowing I was cutting it close. But I was SURE I would make it on time. Pedal to the medal, right?

And you know what’s coming, right? I ran into two — count them — two festivals, more traffic than I could imagine and I missed my turn. I was speeding like a bat outta hell which I don’t like to do.

I was only 5 minutes late. That didn’t seem like too big of a deal to me. Some of my brides and grooms waited 1/2 an hour for their tardy best friend to arrive at their wedding.

I apologized profusely, the wedding went beautifully and I thought I’d redeemed myself.

But the next year I didn’t get any wedding referrals.

I visited the venue before the next season started so I could ask the venue coordinator, what happened? She told me not being on time wasn’t tolerated — no matter what.

Repercussions of Not Being On Time

Why? A late minister means a late start which can mean upset brides and grooms, cold food, melted ice for cocktails and other events having to be started late.

But I loved The Homestead and wanted to get back in their good graces. We agreed that if I arrived consistently to the venue one hour ahead of time, she’d put me back on their referral list.

Which I did. I got back in their good graces. It all worked out. I do more weddings there now than ever.

The point is, you have to get to your wedding on time. You cannot guess what the road conditions are, festivals proceeding with efficiency, traffic being normal (including funerals, and reunion caravans). Being late is stressful on you — isn’t it????

Plan Ahead

So YOU have to make sure you plan ahead, way ahead.

You HAVE to prepare for the worst and keep your cool. More depends on you than you may be aware of. Thanks to technology, we have GPS’s within in easy reach now. Even they aren’t perfect.

I talked about this in the pdf you downloaded a while ago called Seven Easy Fixes to Prevent the Most Common Mistakes New Officiants Make.

A good reputation is worth lots of love, appreciation and thousand’s of dollars. 

You deserve to have everything go well for you as an Officiant.

You deserve to have everything go well for you as an Officiant. My couples give me great joy and I adore the privilege of being the one to lead them in their wedding vows and inspire their guests in my Wedding Address.

Get to the church / beach / venue on time

Call the local Chamber of Commerce. Double check your GPS. Call the venue to see what they know could be a problem around their location. Contact the venue coordinator to see if he or she knows something.

And I’ll see you walking first down the aisle!

Take care,
Rev. Crystal

PS What I mean about walking first down the aisle is an Officiant often walks in first as a signal the ceremony is beginning.

Crystal Yarlott, Officiant

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