Q.If the wedding invitation says 3 o'clock, does this mean the bride and groom enter at 3, or does it mean the mothers are seated at 3, which would signal that it is time for the wedding to begin and that no guests are to be seated?

At the last wedding I attended, the mothers were seated before the designated hour. Guests were still arriving and had to be seated after the mother of the bride was seated. A.This may come as a shock to wedding fanatics, but there is not actually a legal or religious requirement in the wedding ceremony known as Seating of the Mothers. By custom, they and the fathers (except for a father of the bride who is in the wedding procession) are seated just before the ceremony, which is the same time that seating stops, so as not to disrupt the ceremony. The idea is to keep latecomers from cluttering the aisle, rather than to give the mothers last entrance privileges.

But it is the ceremony itself that begins at the hour stated, with the processional. And weddings should start on time. If they are delayed even a little, the guests begin speculating about whether it is the bride or the bridegroom who is balking.