You arrive at the stated time on your invitation card. 7pm it says. You sign the guest book, look for a familiar face and then seat at the table waiting for the bride and groom to arrive.
15 mins later...
Maybe the HMUA is doing the final touch-ups for the Bride to look perfect
30 mins later...
I hope they are doing okay. Does someone have a tummyache?
45 mins later...
As you are just about checking the arrival time on your card, the emcee announces that the stars of the show are about to march in.
Indian weddings rarely start on time, and as a result, tend to run overtime as well. Their flexible schedules may surprise the new guests, but it is a habit relatives have grown to accept after attending many events over the years.
Personally, despite knowing this, I would still arrive early or at the very least on time, so I can:
1. scout the area for gems if I'm the photographer or videographer
2. chat with friends I haven't in a long time
3. do some light reading or catch-ups on my phone
So what is the longest I have had to wait for the couple to arrive?
Well one couple decided to hold an earlier event across the causeway, which is never a good idea because that bridge is perpetually jammed with buses filled with people, truck and lorries filled with food products, vehicles and motorists. I was initially worried as there was NO ONE at the venue when I arrived. Just random people setting up who had not seen any of the family and friends. Later on, I found out about the delay, and nervously waited as more 15 min blocks ran by and I had no idea what time the event would end.
Despite my horrifying cab fare fears as public transport would have ended way before then, the professional emcee was brilliant and managed to rearrange the schedule to ensure that everyone had a timely dinner and everything else went smoothly. We even managed to end almost on time after starting 2 hours behind schedule!
Coming back to the main topic after my little off-tangent anecdote, I say arrive on time, have a good time, and leave only when the party is dying down. I'm sure there are exceptions such as weird family dynamics or knowing no-one, but don't be that relative who is dying to get out there even with the whole family to catch up with, and disappears before everyone else. (To put some context to this last statement for the newbies, guests can easily slip in and out "any" time during the weddings. You don't need to stay for the whole show.)