When I first got engaged, I immediately bought a humongous binder (which I still own) containing worksheets on how to help novice brides like myself plan their wedding with organized glee. I filled out many of the pages and felt like I had just passed a final exam — until I got to the transportation section. How do I get my guests from Point A to Point B and map out our itinerary? Who do we include, who do we not include and where on Earth are we all going?! The whole concept was starting to sound more like a lecture from my algebra teacher (a class that I failed in school).
So I did what any obsessive-compulsive bride in my situation would do: I Googled as much info as I could find until finally, I developed a game plan. If you're anything like me and are overwhelmed by the logistics of transporting yourself (and your bridal party) to and fro on the wedding day, you've come to the right place. Here are some basic guidelines for tackling all of your transportation conundums.
While you don't need to know every little detail of your wedding day down to the second, you will have to map out how the bulk of your day will be spent and where. For example, where are you getting your hair and makeup done? Are you having a "first look" or taking bridal party portraits at a different venue? These are all factors that may impact your transportation. If you need help gauging how much time you'll need for those all-important shutterbug moments, ask your photographer. Be sure to include some cushioning to your schedule in case of any last-minute emergencies, such as a bridal party member or vendor showing up late.
Once you've established a basic timeline, it's time to start researching rental companies. Ideally, you should start your search about four to six months before the big day, but you can certainly book well in advance.
Bonus tip: If your wedding will take place during prom season (early April to mid-June) or on/around a major holiday such as New Year's Eve, start your transportation search early, since rental companies may be inundated with bookings during that time.
Your finances have dictated everything from the centerpieces you've chosen to the dress that you'll rock down the aisle, and wedding-day transportation is no exception. Consider the cost per hour, price of mileage and the distance involved from one point to another when booking your contract. Most companies will charge a minimum of three to four hours ($50 to $300 per hour depending on where you live and which vehicle you've rented).
Bonus tip: Ask to see the limo (or other vehicle) in person to verify that it has enough room for your bridal party to fit comfortably inside! If you're getting married in the summertime, you'll also want to ensure that the air conditioning works.
3. The Fine Print
Now that you've established what your transportation needs are and have a better idea of what they'll cost, let's get down to business! Get a written agreement that includes the following terms of service: total cost, deposits required, refund and gratuity policies, arrival and departure locations, pick-up/drop-off times, the exact models of the vehicles you've requested and the overtime rate per hour. This will give you extra peace of mind!
When you're ready to sign on the dotted line, it's important to ask about "all-inclusive pricing," which should always include the total fare, but may not always include taxes.
Bonus tip: Don't forget to verify that your driver is licensed and insured! You can contact your local Public Utilities Commission for more information. (Live in California? Contact 1-800-894-9444 or visit cpuc.ca.gov and click on "Transportation.")
4. Prepare Yourself
You know that itinerary you've been obsessing over like a busy little bee? Fax or email it to your transportation company, along with all of the necessary directions, including alternate routes in case of an untimely traffic jam. It's also a great idea to give the itinerary to your bridal party, along with any necessary numbers they may need to have handy.
Bonus tip: And whatever you do, don't call the bride! Make sure that either your MOH or wedding planner (if you hired one) has all of the receipts/contracts and any contact numbers they may need. It's also wise to let your transportation company know to contact them in case they need an answer or there's an issue on the wedding day (e.g. the original car you wanted breaks down, so they need to send another one).
5. Get Creative
One of my favorite details at weddings is always the form of transportation. If limos aren’t your style or you want to splurge on something special for both you and your groom, then think wedding trolleys, school buses (perfect for teachers!) or even a horse-drawn carriage for the ultimate fairytale moment.
Bonus tip: If you want to surprise your groom on your wedding day, rent his favorite car for his transportation to the ceremony!
6. Go the Extra Mile
If you're providing transportation for out-of-town guests, factor in that some of your loved ones may wish to leave the party at 11 p.m. and not celebrate until 2 a.m. If your budget is tight and you can't afford two separate return transportation opportunities, ask a family friend if they wouldn't mind carpooling. It's always a nice gesture to thank your loved ones with a small gift for their time.
One thing my fiancé and I were considering when booking our venue was that our bridal party would need return transportation; otherwise talk to family members, MOH or your event planner if you hired one and ask for alternative recommendations. It’s thoughtful to think of your bridal party’s needs after they have celebrated your love all day (and night!).
Bonus tip: When researching nearby hotels, ask if they offer free shuttles to transport hotel guests back to their room at the end of the wedding. Also, it's always a smart idea to provide guests with a list of taxi services if they happen to have had one too many drinks and are feeling a little bit tipsy!
Angelica Bragg is a real bride and the blog maven of The Bridal Detective. She and her fiancé, Edwin Mirzayans (a published author), are planning a destination wedding at the Italian Lakes in Summer 2014. With a stunning backdrop and "la dolce vita" attitude, the couple's soirée will be intimate and romantic, all while celebrating two cultures. When the couple returns from their Italian road trip honeymoon, they will throw a glam after-party with all of their loved ones back home in Jacksonville, Florida.