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Planning

Exiting Your Wedding: The Getaway Car

Car decorating dos and don'ts.

Everyone's seen it at one time or another: a car, sometimes a limousine, sometimes a classic roadster, sometimes an ordinary American four-door, cruising down the highway with the words "Just Married" scrawled across the back window, tin cans and old shoes dangling wildly behind, tied to the rear bumper. It's the classic image of a wedding, a proclamation to anyone and everyone, a celebration of a new life embarked upon. Naturally, someone had to do the decorating, and it's a little much to expect either the bride or groom, with so many other things to worry about, to track down the necessary materials and get busy. That's what their wedding party is for.

Traditionally handled by the groomsmen (but bridesmaids, flowergirls, and ringbearers are usually welcome to help whenever willing and able), decorating the getaway car can be a chance to get creative and call upon those artistic talents not often used in everyday living. While scribbling "Just Married" on a window is a start, to really do your newlywed friends proud, bring some imagination along and go all out.

Naturally, the specifics of what you can do will be dictated to some degree by the getaway car chosen by the bride and groom; most often a limousine is chosen, but perhaps Grandpa has a classic '57 Thunderbird that could be used -- nothing makes for a classier getaway than a classic. Certainly if a horse-drawn carriage is awaiting the happy couple, your options will be limited -- you won't want to do anything that might scare the horses away! But no matter what transport is used, there are lots of ways to have some fun.

The Classics

Use soap or shaving cream to write "Just Married" along the back, either on a window or on the paint. But be careful: shaving cream might damage the paint, leaving a possibly hefty fine to whomever returns the car. It might be wiser to play it safe and use the window. Soap should be safe no matter where it's used, but depending on the paint job, it might be harder to see on the paint (especially if it's a white limo!).

Another traditional way of dressing up the getaway car is to tie old shoes to the back bumper. In times past, leather was believed to ward off evil spirits, and so old leather shoes were thought to keep the newlyweds safe. If shoes aren't readily available, tie some tin cans to the bumper, or anything that will make some noise as they drive off: old utensils, wrenches or other seldom-used tools, or pots and pans. But be aware that some limousine and car rental companies discourage tying anything to the car; it wouldn't be a bad idea to call the company the car is rented from and clear your plans first.

Cool Streams

One way to splash some color into the proceedings is to tie some streamers to the antenna, the side-view mirrors, and the door handles. Use the color scheme of the wedding, or just pick a rainbow of colors. Vary the lengths of the streamers to mix things up, or throw in some curling ribbons to add variety.

Huff and Puff

Another way to add color is to take some deep breaths and blow up some balloons. Tie the balloons to the outside, or fill up the inside of the car to bursting. Use regular round balloons, or maybe get some with irregular shapes. Nothing adds festivity to an occasion quite like rubber balloons, so don't hold back -- blow up as many as you can! But if they start to pop, you might draw some unwanted attention to your clandestine mission of car decoration, so be careful.

String Theory

Another, less common, decoration is Silly String. Spray it all over the interior, along the steering wheel, around the headrests, atop the gearshift. It shouldn't hurt the upholstery, and the bridal gown and tux won't know the difference. It'll take only minutes to spray it all over, and if you're pressed for time, Silly String will do an admirable job in mere minutes. An added bonus, it can be found at just about any party supply store.

Bottles of Bubbly

Of course, you'll want to do more for the bride and groom than simply mess up their getaway vehicle. Why not put a couple bottles of champagne in an ice-filled bucket and stick it on the back seat? It's a classy gesture, one they're sure to appreciate. And no one said you couldn't spray some Silly String around the bottles. Why not also leave a basket of treats in the car. The couple often misses out on much of the wedding feast, and chances are, they'll be hungry as they drive off. Ask the caterer for help in setting aside a plate or two of the food served at the reception, as well as a couple of pieces of wedding cake.

First Things First

Above all, be safe -- you don't want to do anything that might get the bride and groom a ticket (obstruction of view), or into an accident. Be wary of covering the windows up too heavily -- they still have to drive the car, and will need to be able to use all their mirrors and windows. Take a seat behind the wheel during the decorating and see if you'd still be able to drive. Nothing would put a damper on the festivities like an accident, and you'd be the one to blame.

That's definitely not the scenario you're looking for.

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