Transportation: Costs, Tips & Trends

Firm up transportation arrangements 4-6 months before the wedding.

You know what you're wearing, what you're eating, and who's reading what at your ceremony, but none of that matters if you have no way of getting yourselves (and the wedding party) to the wedding site. (a great task for the groom). These 11 tips will get you ready to roll:

1. What it Costs
You're likely to be charged by the hour (ranging from $40-$75 per hour, depending on the type of vehicle and number of passengers), and you may be required to contract the cars for a minimum amount of time. A 15 to 20 percent gratuity may also be added to your bill. The parking service bill should also reflect a 15 to 20 percent gratuity charge. In this case, make sure guests know not to tip.

2. Ways to Save
Stick with your standard six-person town car instead of a stretch limo -- the former is actually a limo, just not as long. Leave out the TV, full bar, and sunroof. Or, let bride and groom get a ride and have the wedding party carpool it.

3. Parking Protocol
Having your reception at a hotel, restaurant, banquet hall, or special events facility? The site manager may be taking care of parking arrangements and staff. If not (or if you prefer to hire an independent service), here are some guidelines: Valets are attendants that physically park cars for guests upon arrival, retrieve them when guests leave, and staff the parking area for the duration of the event. Non-valet attendants direct traffic, hold signs, point you towards available spaces, and staff the area. The going rate? Around $20-$25 per attendant. Figure five valets (or three or four non-valets) per 100 guests.
Note: The parking service manager should check out the location to determine the number of attendants needed before quoting a price. And keep in mind that meager to non-existent parking facilities, massive guest lists, and complicated locations will require more manpower and add to the cost.

4. Guest Issues
Think transporting guests from ceremony to reception isn't your bag? Better hope all your guests are driving. Picture 150 people fighting for cabs during a conveniently timed, post-ceremony thunderstorm. Look into hiring a bus or a couple of minivans if you think this could happen. You also need to consider the distance between ceremony and reception. If the ceremony ends at 4:30 and the reception space (20 minutes away) won't be ready until 5:45, you risk having guests arrive while the space is still being prepared. Those early birds will have to make their own fun, which, trust us, doesn't look good on you. Try to time everything just right. Call the reception site to change the start time, if necessary.

5. Paparazzi Shots
Have your photographer ride along with you. Those glamorous in-car shots (pre- and post-ceremony) are fast becoming a new classic.

6. Sitting Around
Arrange for pick-up and drop-off service only, so that drivers aren't waiting around (and getting paid) for the duration of the ceremony and reception. If there will be no cars waiting, the couple should be assured a ride home (hotel, airport, etc.) when the festivities are over. This is something an honor attendant (usually the best man) should provide or oversee.

7. Prom Problem
If your wedding falls during prom time or graduation season (late March to late June) you may want to book five or six months before your wedding date just to be on the safe side.

8. Be Prepared
We can't say it enough: prepare a call sheet with names and all pickup/drop off addresses and times, so that you can call to confirm these arrangements with the car company the day before the wedding (or on that morning). The drivers should have this information well in advance, as well as detailed directions to the ceremony and reception sites. Also, make sure that everyone getting a ride has a copy of the directions stashed in their pocket or purse, with an emergency contact number in case the driver gets lost.

9. Drink it Up
Stash some champagne in the car so that you can toast each other on the way to the reception. (The limo company may be able provide the booze and save you the trouble. Ask about this.)

10. Alternate Routes
Of course you're not limited to limos and cars -- we know couples who have gone by way of horse and buggy, sleigh, motorcycle and side-car, roller skates, skateboards, scooters, canoe, even tractors.

11. Let's Go
Want a carefree ride? So do your families and friends! Make sure you've arranged transportation for the bridal party and VIPs, like both sets of parents and grandparents.

12. "Just Married"
If you've always dreamed of departing in a car decked out with dangling aluminum cans, streamers, flowers, and a big "Just Married" sign, leave it to your male attendants. Direct them to Groomsmen: Decorating the Getaway Mobile for hints and how-tos.


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