transportation

Providing transportation for the wedding party, even for a local wedding, shows that you're taking care of your guest - and it's in your best interest, since you want to make sure everyone gets there on time. At a minimum, you should also arrange transportation for both sets of parents to the ceremony site, and it's very thoughtful to give grandparents the special treatment. As for the bride, if she is already dressed, she usually arrives at the ceremony site with her father; if she's getting ready on site, she arrives earlier, perhaps with her bridesmaids. The groom and the groomsmen drive to the ceremony together. Any other members of the wedding party, including junior bridesmaids and ushers, ride along. If you have young children in the wedding, they're probably going to be more comfortable with their parents; you can certainly provide transportation for the family if you desire. 

Although you don't want to order too many cars only to have one sit idle, you also don't want to cut corners. If the ceremony and reception sites are separated by more than a very short walking distance, you'll also need to get all of the people you transported to the wedding over to the reception. And, last but not least, you'll want a special vehicle for you and your groom to depart in. 

Ferrying the Guests

Do you need transportation for your guests? Think of their comfort, both physical and mental. Guests should feel taken care of, and providing a shuttle in an unknown city or arranging for everyone to get back to the hotel together can make all the difference - they don't have to worry about directions, where to park, whether they'll be on time, or how many glasses of champagne they can safely imbibe at the reception. 

Give serious consideration to providing transportation to guests if:

  • you are having a destination wedding. They're already going to great expense to attend your wedding, so don't give them the added burden of paying for a $20 Uber ride to the wedding site. 

  • You have a high percentage of out-of-towners

  • The wedding is taking place in a city where parking is difficult to find or expensive, especially if the ceremony and reception are in two different locations. Guests shouldn't have to worry about parking or calling Uber twice.

Although it may seem like an unnecessary extra expense, guest transportation can make such a difference in everyone's mood that I recommend providing it when possible. 

The advent of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, available in more and more cities and countries, has made wedding transportation an infinitely cheaper and simpler proposition. Among their many great qualities? The flexibility they allow you and your guests. Contact the ride-sharing company of your choice, and you can arrange for a group discount at no cost to you. You offer guests the discount code, they plug the code into the app on their devices, and everybody gets a cheaper ride. Often guests who've never used the service before will be eligible for a ride that is completely free. 

Guests are usually on their own for getting to and from the airport, but for a destination wedding in a remote spot, you many want to coordinate van service. 

Whatever you do, make sure to communicate clearly with guests about transportation. Let them know well in advance whether you're providing transportation, and if you have a group discount, be sure to post this on your wedding website.

Typical Vehicle Occupancies

  • Bus - seated 45-60

  • Double decker bus - seats 65

  • Limo bus, limo coach or party bus - seats 18-28

  • Gold cart - seats 2-6

  • Limousine - seats 6

  • Lincoln Town Car, luxury sedan - seats 2-4

  • Minivan - seats 7

  • Passenger Shuttle - seats 15-33

  • Stretch Hummer/Lincoln Navigator/Cadillac Escalade - seats 12-22

  • Stretch Limousine - seats 12-14

  • SUV - seats 5-7

  • Trolley - seats 22-30

  • Van - seats 12-15

The Getaway Car

The moment when the happy couple departs in a special car, a JUST MARRIED sign attached to the back, ranks as one of my favorites! This is a tradition worth preserving. Though there's nothing wrong with using a limo, I love to use a vintage car, like a 1950s Rolls-Royce. Some couples leave on a Vespa or a motorcyclee (love it with a sidecar), I've been had one couple leave on a dirt bike, which fit their personalities to a T. If your reception is by the water, you can even depart via a sail boat or gondola. 

"Just Married"

Decorating the car is a wonderful tradition, but if you have pranksters in your circle, send word to the attendants - the best man is usually in charge - that you don't want tasteless comments painted on the windows and/or a car covered in shaving cream or toilet paper. 

Where does the custom of decorating the car come from? It all goes back to those evil spirits. In the 19th century, couples in the American South and Midwest were commonly followed home on foot by guests banging on pots and pans and making as much noise as possible, in part to disrupt intimate relations, and in part to keep the spirits away. The commotion, all part of the "shivaree" as it was known, continued once the couple was inside their home. 

Parking

In order to determine whether or not you need to provide parking, come up with a rough estimate of how many cars you'll need to accommodate and the available number of space. Don't forget to account for vendor's vehicles.

Guests should never have to pay to park at your wedding. Consider whether you need valet parking, which is commonplace in some areas of the country. Ask yourself: How far will guests have to walk from their parking spots? What's the weather typically like that time of year? If it's often ten below or scorching hot on your wedding date, hire a valet service.

If you don't need valet service but are anticipating a crowd, parking attendants can help direct guests to open spaces and keep traffic flowing. If the hotel charges for parking, they'll handle the staffing. Discuss the attire of the valets and attendants in advance to ensure they're dressed in a style that's compatible with your wedding. 

At an off-site or home wedding, you may need to find a local parking lot to handle the cars (you can't expect to park 150 vehicles along a residential street). Sometimes a school, church or community facility will rent out its lots. Or perhaps there's a big, grassy area for parking, but it's too far for guests to walk. You'll want attendants directing people as to where to park, and then you'll need transportation over to the reception. (You should have at least two vehicles providing continuous round-trip transportation; that way, there's one at each end most of the time.)

If you're hiring a valet company, make sure they research local parking ordinances; otherwise, call city hall to find out parking restrictions and whether you need special permits. 

Make sure your transportation contract includes the below items:

  • Is there a minimum number of rental hours?

  • What services does the rate include?

  • How is the gratuity handled? Many companies automatically build in a 15-20% tip. Some companies offer you the option of adding a tip to the bill automatically or letting you handle it yourself. 

  • How much of a deposit is required?

  • Does the company carry liability insurance that covers the passengers as well as the driver?

  • Does the company offer any wedding packages or any discounts with multiple rentals? But don't be seduced by the word package - make sure it's actually a better deal or desirable upgrade. No need to pay extra for a bottle of bad champagne. 

  • If you're renting any vehicles that might bend the rules of the road, make sure they're permitted on the streets where you plan to use them. Golf carts may be permitted on a resort's grounds, for instance, but not on a public road. Also make sure any vehicle you'll be using on public streets is properly licensed.

Interested in some of our favorite transportation providers? Check out our preferred vendors list.

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