The common practice of inviting only close relatives to witness a marriage solemnisation ceremony at 6pm inside a function room, while other guests are invited to the cocktail party at 7pm, and scheduling the Chinese wedding dinner at the ballroom to commence at 7.30pm, usually does little in encouraging many guests to be punctual for the dinner ("Being punctual shows consideration, respect" by Mr Cheong Kwee Thiam; Forum Online, May 15).
Most of the guests would stream in between 7pm and 8pm. More often than not, the dinner would commence only between 8.15pm and 8.45pm, if not later.
From my experience, guests tend to be more punctual when they are invited to attend the solemnisation ceremony.
Hence, one way to ensure that wedding dinners start on time may be to invite all relatives and guests to witness the solemnisation ceremony at, say, 7.30pm, inside the ballroom itself, and to commence the dinner immediately thereafter.
Cocktails could be served between 6.45pm and 7.15pm, and everyone is to be seated by 7.25pm.
To minimise any disruption during the solemnisation process, latecomers could be ushered discreetly to sit at the back of the ballroom before proceeding to their respective tables after the ceremony.
Ng Chee Kheon