1. Book a car company way in advance
You should hire your car company with about six months to go (after you’ve settled on your date, ceremony and reception sites, and wedding party size). If you’re getting married in April, May or June—also known as prom and graduation season—formal vehicles will be in high demand, so you’ll need to book your transportation even earlier (around nine months is a good benchmark). The same goes for special rides like vintage cars, which are in shorter supply than your typical town car or limousine.
2. Think beyond the white stretch limo
A limo works well with a traditional glam wedding, but if that’s not your style, get creative and match your ride to your taste. Whether you want a unique getaway to express your style or a fun way to give your bridal party and guests a lift, there are lots of options for your wedding wheels.
3. Give your bridal party a ride
Technically, you’re not required to provide transportation for your bridesmaids and groomsmen for the entire night. But they’re working hard for you, so giving them the chance to celebrate without worrying about finding their own war is a nice gesture. If you’re not traveling to the ceremony with them, consider getting them their own limo or trolley to get to the venue. Once the ceremony is over, duck into a dream ride with your entire entourage for a jovial jaunt to the reception. Then at the end of the night, after the two of you have snuck off, the group can pile into a guest shuttle home or back to the hotel.
4. Don’t leave your guests stranded
If you’re hosting a lot of out-of-towners, consider providing them with a ride from their hotel to the wedding and back. That way, no one has to worry about navigating an unfamiliar city or choosing designated drivers. A shuttle, which holds up to 29 passengers, will usually do the trick (it can take a couple of trips).
5. Make your reservation in person
Have you ever booked a rental car online and been disappointed by the junky lemon you picked up? Don’t let this happen on your wedding day. Research companies online and chat with a few over the phone, but make your final booking in person. You’ll be able to get a look at the car you’ll be riding in (or at least a very similar one). This way you can avoid any unwelcome surprises by making sure the fleet looks in tip-top shape before putting down a deposit.
6. Add 20 to 30 minutes of pad time to every trip
Being late because of traffic can ruin a regular day, and it can really put a damper on your wedding. Pad some extra time onto each trip you’ll be making in case of unexpected delays, and keep in mind that getting excited people into multiple cars is no easy task. If you want to be extra cautious, take a test spin of each route at the same time and day of the week of your wedding to use as your guide. Research any irregular happenings about town (think: sporting events or festivals) that might be going on during your wedding day that might cause interruptions and add extra travel time.
7. Plan to pay for wait time
Most rental companies charge by the hour and require a minimum booking, typically three hours. In most cases, this means that you’ll contract them for the full day. Either way, calculate the total hours needed from the ceremony pickup to the end of the reception, to determine whether it’s worth it to pay for the wait. (We think it generally is, if only to save you from stressing out about another detail during your busy day.)
8. Be a little demanding
Wedding transportation is supposed to be luxurious. Special requests, like the type of champagne you want on hand, a certain type of music player you need (like an iPod connection) or a specific dress code for the driver, can usually be accommodated. Just ask your rental company about adding these extras into your contract before you sign.
9. Get a cute getaway photo (without breaking the rules)
We hate to be the ones to break the news, but many car rental companies don’t permit decor on their vehicles (especially the vintage variety). So before you get attached to the idea of a decked-out wedding getaway car for that classic wedding photo, ask about it. The companies that do allow it may require you to take the trimmings off for safety reasons as soon as you drive out of sight. If you want the whole shebang—the cans, the signs and the flowers—you might be better off using your own car for the exit.
10. Make day-of playlists
Don’t ride to the wedding in silence and don’t let there be a lame song stuck in your head as you roll up to the church either. Make a few mixes of your favorite songs for your trips to the ceremony, reception and home at the end of the night. If you’re hiring shuttles for your guests, create playlists for their rides too, to get them in a party state of mind.