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Feel free to go wild, but don't use materials that will damage the car's finish.

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groomsmen guide - decorating

Groomsmen: Decorating the Getaway Car

Groomsmen, it's time to gussy up the bride's and groom's jalopy. Read on for tips on how to decorate the getaway car.

Photo: Eclectic Images Photography

All right, groomsmen, decorating the getaway mobile is one of your easiest wedding duties -- so do it right! You know the drill: the train of tin cans, "Just Hitched" scribbled in soap on the back window, the whole nine yards. If you want, let the bridesmaids in on the action and share the fun.

When to do it

The best source of timing information is likely the bride's mother, especially if she's been involved in the wedding planning. Approach her at a calm moment and ask when the couple plans to ride off into the sunset. If she doesn't know, try asking your buddy the groom -- without arousing suspicion, of course. Finish all decorations before the couple skedaddles; you don't want to send them off in a half-finished jalopy.

Materials

This depends on the vehicle in which they're making their exit. If it's a rented limo, ask the driver about restrictions before incurring his wrath and adding a hundred-dollar cleaning fee to the bride's and groom’s bill.

If it's the best man's car or even the groom's car, feel free to go wild, but don’t use materials that will damage the car's finish. The avoid-at-all-costs list includes spray paint (duh), whipped cream (anything containing sugar will wreck a paint job), and electrical and masking tape. Also, remember that tin cans will spark against pavement, which may be dangerous (and it's even illegal in some areas).

What can you use? Write on windows with bar soap or shaving cream. Attach plastic soda bottles (no sparks) or streamers to the rear bumper. You can also tie streamers to the antenna and front bumper, and attach rosettes made of streamers to the car's roof -- but don't use any tape that will pull off paint! Stick with Scotch tape, and don't be surprised if some décor flies off as the couple makes their move. To make a grand statement, you can even attach a placard to the car's rear -- just don't hide the license plate! A visit from the fuzz could mar an otherwise excellent getaway.

One automotive decorator used white shoe polish to write messages on the getaway car's windows. He says he stuck with the traditional, "Just Married," but you can get a little more creative with, "Just Hitched," "Finally Hitched," "Tied the Knot," "Lovebirds," "Old Married Couple," or whatever strikes your fancy. You can also use bar soap or shaving cream instead of shoe polish. For a darker car, write on the body of the car itself with soap or shaving cream.

Why Decorate?

If you've ever seen a convoy of cars drive by decorated for a wedding day, you know the commotion it causes: People honk their horns, scream congratulations out their car windows, or wave from the sidewalk. What a way to exit the wedding reception -- or even to arrive there from the ceremony! Many Latino weddings in Los Angeles feature a fleet of cars decorated with crepe paper rosettes and streamers. Take a cue from this tradition if the ceremony and reception take place at different locales -- decorate the cars before the group moves between locations. It will make the journey as fun as the reception itself.

-- The Knot

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