Wedding transportation isn’t the most exciting part of wedding planning, but it is incredibly important! You won’t want to think about how people are getting to the reception from the ceremony or back to their hotel at the end of the night. Transportation gets people where you need them to be safely and on time. It can also be a fun way to add more style to your special day. Luxury cars, carriages, trolleys and limos are just a few of the wedding transportation options for you and your guests. We chatted with wedding planner Emily Forton of Juniper and Lace Events in Traverse City, MI to learn more about transportation options. Before joining Juniper and Lace, Forton spent several years as a transportation coordinator for weddings and wine tours, so she’s particularly in tune with the elements couples often overlook.
Wedding Transportation Basics
Transportation is one of the last things to worry about, luckily! Start thinking about what kind of transportation you want early on, but once you settle on the type, you won’t need to book anything until you’re three to six months out. However, reaching out to companies earlier and getting quotes is the best way to get the best deal.
There are several options when it comes to wedding transportation. You can go with a classic stretch limo or van. Party buses and trolleys are popular for larger groups. Ferries and motorboats are even a thing for beach weddings. You can plan your big arrival and departure in everything from a vintage luxury car to a Vespa scooter, depending on the impression you want to make. The possibilities are only limited by your budget and imagination.
Just remember to factor in the weather and passenger needs when deciding on your transportation. A shuttle bus for instance, can fit around 60 people while a traditional yellow school bus will be closer to approximately 45 passengers. Smaller still, a trolley is popular for transporting your wedding party, seating around 32 people.
Decide Who You’ll be Transporting
Most wedding guests don’t expect to receive door-to-door transportation. You may want to just offer this type of service to your wedding party. However, if your ceremony and reception are at different locations, you may want to shuttle guests between the two locations. Just remember, you’ll need to also return them back to their cars at the end of the night.
If you’re hosting a destination wedding, providing transportation is a thoughtful gesture to guests who have incurred the cost of a hotel and transport to your location. Ask your hotel or destination wedding planner whether there are packages for providing transportation to guests. Having a professional handle getting guests everywhere on time can be priceless, particularly in an unfamiliar location where guests might easily get lost.
Add in Extra Time to Your Schedule
No one wants to feel rushed and stressed out about being late on their wedding day. Nope, instead, you want to feel chill and relaxed. Forton says a big part of that is to build in plenty of buffer time, particularly when road travel is involved in the day.
She says couples often think of their wedding transportation like it’s a standard car and rely on Google Maps for timing. “They’ll say, ‘well, it says that it only takes 10 minutes to get from here to here. But people don’t factor in that if you’re taking a 25-30 passenger bus downtown, the travel time will be longer. Those areas are tight. You’re going in and out of different hotels and you’ve got traffic. You may have 20-30 people on a bus. You can’t go too fast because you can’t stop on a dime like in a car,” says Forton.
Make sure to include a little room in your schedule for guest variables. Trying to get a large group of people ready to go is always a difficult task. “You know, it’s not a quick turnaround. People are like, ‘oh I forgot my purse, I’m just gonna run back up to my room’ or, ‘I’m just waiting on my mom, she’s in the bathroom.’ Those variables add up. You can’t account for those if you don’t put in a little cushion.”
Think Safety, Not Just Savings
With all the wedding finery to blow a budget on, it’s easy to want to scrimp on transportation. You might even know someone who has a party van with a great deal. The problem is that most people don’t realize driving a bus full of people is much different than driving a car. Forton points out that you get what you pay for. “I’ve seen all kinds of weird rentals. Some people rent out old school buses. One of them literally had a piece of house siding on it and lawn chairs. I don’t care how little money you paid, there’s no way I’m getting in that thing!”
Using a professional service is also safer financially. Forton says it’s important to double check that your drivers are all professionally trained and insured. “We had to carry $5 million auto liability insurance for all of our buses and we had to go through rigorous DOT inspections, to make sure that your guests got there safely. And our drivers, we’re all CDL licensed.” If you try to do the transportation without such protections, you risk having to foot the bill for any injuries or damage from an accident.
Reduce Stress with Professional Transportation Services
You want your wedding to be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Hiring a professional transportation service can help. Guests can be a handful especially after partying at your open bar for hours! So from the ceremony to the last dance, you can ensure they get to all the places they need to be. Forton says it’s okay to lean on your transportation service to help. “At the end of the night, the drivers always told me, ‘you can plan it down to the last five minutes, but you just never know, because it’s just like herding cats.’ And sometimes tipsy cats at that!”
Create a Polished Look for Your Wedding Transportation
When you hire a professional driver you’re getting someone who understands the high standards you have for your day. With that in mind, you can feel comfortable discussing wanting a certain look and style for your transportation. “You want the kind of driver who is going to offer their hand when your bridesmaids get off the bus. You want your driver in a suit and you want them to go above and beyond. You are paying for a certain level of professionalism, and in this industry, you get what you pay for.”
Streamline Your Transportation
You don’t need to provide door-to-door transportation for guests. By requesting guests who will be provided transportation to meet at a central location can cut down on logistic headaches. “I try to let the couples know that it’s best to have like two or three easy-to-find pick-up locations, and try to get people to stick to those areas.” This keeps everyone safe and makes transportation much easier.
Consider After-Party Transportation
Every wedding wants to show its guests a good time. And part of wedding transportation is making sure your guests get home safe from that party. Share your schedule with your transportation company to understand how they can help best. If you’re planning on an after-party, be sure to inform them of this before the big day. “We’ve had people that decided they aren’t done partying when the venue closed. They rented a bowling alley and wanted us to get everyone there. It’s a lot of back and forth and a lot of planning, but if your drivers and your coordinators are well informed and know what to expect, It should go very smoothly for everyone.