What If My Wedding Guests Get Stuck in Traffic?

Etiquette, Planning Tips

The list of things you can't control about your wedding is a long one: The weather, whether or not people will dance, if you'll cry when you walk down the aisle... And don't forget traffic! Whether guests are driving themselves or you're providing shuttles to get them to and from the wedding venue, traffic patterns can be unpredictable. What should you do if a traffic jam means a number of your guests are running late? Here's what our experts have to say.

You've spent months finalizing the minute-by-minute timeline of your wedding day, have looked into every local festival, parade, sporting event, and holiday, and have accounted for as many factors as possible. But once your wedding day comes, it's all out of your hands. If an accident, traffic jam, or unexpected weather cause delays for your guests, it can put a wrinkle in your plans, but don't panic — here's how to handle it.

If it's just a few guests, stick to the schedule. Be sure to leave seats open on the outside ends of the back rows of your ceremony so they can slip in once they've arrived, with as little interruption as possible. They might miss your vows, but hopefully they'll make it in time to celebrate with you.

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If guests are on shuttles and a shuttle is delayed, have your planner get in touch with the driver to check on the situation. Will they be 15-20 minutes late, but they're moving along slowly? Bump back the ceremony start time by a few minutes. Is the delay due to an unexpected road closure for something like an accident? See if the driver and your planner can figure out an alternate route. If it's a delay that will take longer than 30 minutes, proceed as scheduled — your guests will understand that you aren't able to bump the entire day back by an hour.

If the delayed guests in question are in the wedding party or are VIPs, see how long it will take them to get there, and consider swapping around the schedule. Could you have cocktail hour first, then have the ceremony in an hour or so? It won't be exactly what you've planned, but you'll be able to include them in your ceremony and have that special moment together.

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