How Do You Navigate Wedding Transportation?

How to get wedding guests from Point A to Point B

Transportation was, by far, the biggest headache of our entire wedding planning process, and it was the one area where we went over budget. With a bigger-than-average wedding party, a three-hour gap between the ceremony and reception, and a large number of out-of-town guests attending our fairly rural wedding, the transportation situation was a puzzle we were scrambling to put together right up until the week of the wedding. Perhaps some variety of this problem has happened, or is happening, to you?

Today we’re tackling wedding transportation conundrums, sharing our best transportation hacks, and crowdsourcing possible solutions. In short, how do you get everyone from Point A to Point B without losing your mind (and blowing your budget)?

Nothing (Well, Most Things) Are Not MandatorY

With some notable exceptions (venues that require that you provide transportation, desert islands, that sort of thing) providing wedding transportation is optional. In plenty of social circles, providing wedding transportation is not only unnecessary, but unheard of. This might vary by region, or just by family. (Our Midwestern contingent was pleasantly surprised, if somewhat bewildered, to hear we were offering transportation, while our New Englanders all seemed much more familiar with the concept.) Either way, the good news for you is that if you’re looking for a way to let yourself off the transportation hook, this is it!

APW promotes the belief that your guests are grown-ass adults, and that certainly applies here. Your guests have spent a lifetime getting from place to place (Even while traveling! Even while drunk!) and will figure out how to do so for your wedding, as needed. As a wedding guest, I always appreciate the gesture when a couple provides transportation of some kind. As a fully grown adult, I am a hundred percent capable of managing on my own when transportation is not provided. If offering transportation doesn’t make sense for your wedding, provide good directions, visibly display some taxi numbers, and call it a day!

However, that doesn’t preclude that you might want to provide transportation, just like we did. If that’s the case, read on (and meet us in the comments).

who needs a ride?

Getting a headcount is the obvious starting point. Transporting your bridal brigade (if you’re having one!) is fairly standard in some circles, both as a matter of courtesy and for the logistical convenience of keeping everyone together, but depending on your circumstances, it might not be strictly necessary. Who you want to transport will depend on your wedding, and your crowd. Do you have a ceremony reader who is prone to being late? Might not be a bad idea to ask him to travel with the wedding party, so everyone is accounted for. We asked my mom’s crafty best friend to tag along with us, to help fluff up the bouquets when we got to the church and to deal with any veil snafus. If you want “wedding party in transit” photos, don’t forget to include your photographer in your headcount.

Since we didn’t want the out-of-towners navigating unfamiliar, winding country roads after partaking in the open bar, we felt strongly about offering guest transportation, as well. If you are thinking about offering transportation to your guests, consider who is likely to hop on board. Is everyone local? Are you getting married in an urban area where trains and taxis are readily available? Are the ceremony and reception in the same spot? Shuttle service to an early morning wedding might get lighter usage than, say, to a late-night boozy dance party.

getting from point a to point b

If you’re planning to transport a large number of people, think function over form. My friend recently rented a school bus to transport guests for her wedding, which was both cost-effective and amazing. (The goody-two-shoes in me got a huge kick out of taking a swig from a flask while riding the school bus home from the reception.) The cost of renting a trolley initially gave us sticker shock, but it was actually a surprisingly good deal in comparison with renting two or three separate limos to seat the same number of people.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask your venue for recommendations. Or, if you’re doing a hotel block, ask the hotel if they have any deals with nearby transportation companies—one nearby shuttle company offered us a discount based on how many rooms were booked in our block.

transportation timing

Oh, the dreaded “Catholic gap.” We tried mightily to avoid the extended gap between ceremony and reception that commonly crops up when having a wedding at a house of worship, but our church only allowed ceremonies at certain (early) hours, leaving a substantial gap between the ceremony and our evening reception. Much as I would have loved to ferry our guests to and from both the ceremony and the reception, twelve full hours of transportation was simply not in the budget. Since our main motivation for offering guest transportation was to allow people to enjoy the open bar, we ended up offering it for the reception only. We were really worried this would cause confusion, but people were surprisingly capable of carpooling or taking a cab to the ceremony, and reconvening at the hotel a few hours later to hop on the trolley to the reception. (See: adults.)

Unless your chosen form of transportation can comfortably accommodate everyone in a single trip, you’re going to wind up with either 1) a big group of guests arriving prior to the start of cocktail hour, or 2) a big group of guests arriving halfway through cocktail hour. We got around this by asking a close group of family members to take the early shuttle to the venue so we could wrap up all the family photos before cocktail hour began, but we probably didn’t even need to worry about this because, again, your guests are grown-ups! They’re capable of mingling or otherwise entertaining themselves if they show up a little bit early. (Definitely don’t stress over spacing out any shuttle trips at the end of the night. Hanging around our venue after the reception ended, munching leftover cupcakes and listening to our closest friends having a rousing singalong while we waited for the last shuttle to return is one of the happiest memories from our wedding night.)

getting the word out

How do you communicate transportation information to your guests—whether it’s offering details of a provided shuttle or giving everyone a heads up on taxi numbers? Spreading the word is especially important if you know your crew isn’t necessarily accustomed to transportation being offered. We used a combination of word of mouth, a separate page on our wedding website, and an insert in our invitations. At the very last second, we added a line to our R.S.V.P. cards to ask people to confirm whether or not they planned to take the trolley. THANK GOD we did this, because I never would have expected so many guests to take advantage of the transportation. But hey, that’s why we provided it, right?

WHICH TRANSPORTATION woes ARE KEEPING YOU UP AT NIGHT? married folks: what are your tips and tricks for navigating the wedding transportation situation?

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