Every detail—from the invitation return address label to the post-celebration honeymoon suite—has been accounted for, but how are you going to get to your wedding? Hiring wedding transportation should be near-parallel to hiring a baker or disc jokey, but somehow the idea seems less pressing—despite the possible severity of the consequences. Those stilettos were barely made for walking, let alone hitchhiking.
Be it a stretch limousine, classic car or party bus, the most obvious transportation mistake regards price. “Something that we see a lot is not understanding what is actually included in the cost,” says Samantha Brooks, event liaison at Cosmopolitan Events. “It’s essential to ask if it covers your gas, mileage or gratuity.”
Katie Fogerty, owner of event organizer Kate & Company, recommends brides get the price in writing, as taking a bid over the phone can lead to trouble down the road. Speaking of trouble, “always ask what the contingency plan is if there is an issue with the vehicle,” Fogerty warns, explaining that she prefers hiring companies with extra vehicles on-hand, or have an outsourcing plan, should a mechanical misfortune occur on your big day. Fogerty says she has seen the aftermath of a broken-down car and unreliable company, and while she was there to solve the problem before the couple found out, the issue could have been avoided had the right questions been asked from the start. “The reputable companies likely service their vehicles constantly, but we all know that you don’t know you have an issue with a flat tire until you have a flat tire. Just because a company is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better.”
Assuming that the vehicle is functioning properly, problems caused by improper selection still may occur. “A lot of brides—or the bride’s family—want a stretch limousine, which is great for image,” says Jim Fleming, CEO of St. Louis Transportation. “But if you have a bridal party traveling for pictures, sliding in and out of the limo can be pretty difficult. We ask them what they want to do with the vehicle to help make sure they select it because of both the image they want to convey and the functionality.”
Similarly, the type of transportation may be right, but the size could be all wrong—even if the vehicle says it holds more people than are in your bridal party. “Always take into consideration not just the number of people on the bus or limo, but any extras you may have,” explains Fogerty, noting that the transportation headcount does not include oversized gowns or accessories. Since bridal parties often bring coolers full of items such as water or snacks, Fogerty recommends counting each crate as one person and the bride—“because of her dress”—as two.
You’ll have a multitude of accessories and people, but would you ever think to bring your GPS to your wedding? What about money for the meter? “Ask up front if the vehicle or driver has a GPS, or if the bride and groom need to provide detailed directions,” Fogerty explains. “Also, are any parking fees included in your cost? There are certain situations where the bride and groom need to have cash on them because of a particular parking situation. Be sure to ask that question up front: What is the plan for parking and how do we, the bride and groom, need to prepare?”
Details such as professionalism, attire, reputation and licensing also should be considered. With thought and preparation, hiring a transportation company for your wedding can be as meticulously organized as every other aspect of the celebration—it just needs to be given more importance. “They spend a lot of time and money planning a wedding, but not enough time on the transportation,” Fleming reminds. “If your transportation company is not on time, then what?”