How Do I Know If I'm Fashionably Late or Just Late?

The most important thing to keep in mind: There is no blanket rule. No one wants to be that so-early-it’s-super-uncomfortable guest at an open-house party (à la Michael Scott on The Office). But what friends with restaurant reservations would like to be left waiting at the dinner table?

Here’s a quick guide to some key arrival etiquette.


Dear Rue: Fashionably Late

Restaurant Reservation: Arrive on time. If you’re late at all, you’re late period.

Open-House Event: The very definition of an open house is that you can arrive anytime. With that said, use common sense and don’t arrive right before the end of the party. You won’t be able to spend time with the host, and frankly, you’ll give the appearance of not caring about them or the event. So make sure you arrive with enough time to take everything in – in other words, definitely no later than half an hour before the official end.

Dinner Party: Per Emily Post’s Etiquette Daily blog: “The general rule of thumb for dinner parties is to arrive 10 to 15 minutes after the time designated by the host.” Emily Post has spoken. Enough said.

Wedding Ceremony: Is it even a question? Don’t. Arrive. Late. In fact, it’s best to arrive early for weddings so that you don’t interrupt the ceremony once it starts. Aim to get there 15 to 30 minutes before the time listed, unless otherwise specified in the invitation.

For more info, check out the comprehensive list (covering everything from movie dates to work appointments) by the Modern Manners Guy. And then? Enjoy the sweet success of an ideal arrival time – perhaps with a well-deserved glass of champagne at the party.

By Shaina Malkin, Copyeditor

Have an etiquette emergency? Tweet us your question at @ruelala, and we might cover it in our next Dear Rue column.

Not a Member and like The (Style) Guide? You’ll love Rue La La. Join now.


Kate Winslet's Vogue Cover – Over-Airbrushed, or Art?