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wedding limo

12 Transportation Mistakes Not to Make

How you and your guests get around will be a make-it-or-break-it detail on your wedding day. Avoid these common transportation mistakes for a hitch-free ride.

Photo: Michael Norwood Photography

Mistake #1: Not hiring professional transportation

Step one to no-hassle wedding transportation is to hire the pros. You won't have to worry about coordinating a different ride with several separate cars; your entire entourage can be with you every step of the way if you choose. That peace of mind alone is enough to make transportation a priority in our book -- but there's also the added bonus of having tons of stylish, photo-ready options, from Mustangs and white limos to party and double-decker buses.

Mistake #2: Only considering the standard stretch limo

Like every other aspect of your wedding, your getaway mobile should complement and match your personal and wedding style -- after all, this is how your guests will remember you riding off into the sunset. From a sleek silver Rolls-Royce or a pimped-out party bus to a bicycle built for two, there are countless ways to get everyone around in style -- including you. Stage a photo-worthy getaway by choosing a ride with flair: We love the idea of a vintage convertible for a rustic outdoor wedding, a pedicab draped with flowers for a laid-back city affair or a tandem bike topped with streamers for a beach event. Want to keep it classic? Try a white Bentley or a black Rolls-Royce.

Mistake #3: Forgetting about your guests

While you're not expected to provide shuttles for guests, it's thoughtful to help out-of-town (read: car-less) guests find transportation in an unfamiliar town. And if you have room in your budget, you (or your designated day-of crisis manager) won't have to worry about giving directions to lost guests, late arrivals interrupting the ceremony, finding a lot big enough for 100-plus cars or making sure that imbibing guests get home safe. A charter bus, which holds up to 60 passengers, will get the job done, but it's not your only option. A vintage trolley will give your guests a dose of nostalgia (but only for short trips of five miles or less -- these oldies aren't built for highway speed), and yellow school buses make for a charming alternative with a little more mileage (but many of those don't have air-conditioning, so steer clear during the summer if the trip will be a long one). If you're not hiring transportation for your guests, post the numbers for a local car service company on your website and also print them on cards to display near the exit so that anyone who has been drinking can make it home safely. You can also arrange to have a stream of cabs waiting at the end of the reception.

Mistake #4: Not verifying the owner of the car

It's smart to know who actually owns the vehicle you're renting. If the transportation company you're dealing with doesn't have the car you're looking for, they may “borrow” a car from another vendor (and basically pay them a rental fee). Here's where it gets sticky: Since you're one more middleman away from the wedding car of your dreams, you put yourself at greater risk for a late ride or, even worse, a no-show. If you have your heart set on a particular car, you're better off finding a vendor that actually owns the one you have in mind.

Mistake #5: Skimming the contract

Errors or omissions on your car-rental contract can mean a late or no-show ride (which might mean a late bride and/or guests). You could also be on the hook for an accident that damages another car, for any stains from the bubbly one of your guests spills or for a service fee you didn't account for in your budget. So read each contract point [link to contract piece] carefully. Before you sign, triple-check that the date; hours; pickup locations; driver's name and attire; make, model and color of the car; and cancellation and refund policies are all included and completely accurate. Finally, make sure the company is insured and ask if it's licensed with the county in which your wedding is taking place.

Mistake #6: Only thinking about the wedding day

Between your engagement party, bachelor or bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, after-party and honeymoon departure you're going to be making a lot of entrances and exits. Since drinking is usually a part of many of these events, have a transportation plan for all the pre- and postwedding parties, whether it's hiring a town car for you and a shuttle bus for your guests, or just having detailed cab info on hand at each event. After the wedding, whether you're off to your new married abode or to the airport for your honeymoon, sneak away in private like celebs in a sleek black Cadillac Escalade or town car (make sure the car is big enough to fit all of your luggage). And to make your return from your honeymoon easier, book a round-trip ride to and from the airport so you'll have a car ready for when you come back down to earth.

Mistake #7: Disregarding traffic (and other delays)

The timing of your transportation can mean the difference between a wedding that flows effortlessly from event to event, and a day with rushed traveling or awkward pauses and guests who don't know what to do with themselves. Figure out travel times and routes ahead of time (so you can include them in your contract) and add 20 to 30 minutes of “padding” for traffic and any other potential delays to all of your day-of routes.

Mistake #8: Letting guests figure out parking for themselves

Even if you're providing transportation, make sure there's ample parking for guests who prefer to shuttle themselves around. Talk to your reception site manager and find out what your parking options are and if staff (parking attendants and valets) will be available. If it turns out you have to hire an independent service, tailor it to your needs. A full-service valet team, which will park your guests' cars and retrieve them at the end of the night, is only necessary if parking is scarce at your venue or if the lot is far away, so guests don't have to hoof it in formalwear and elderly guests can easily get there. If there's enough parking nearby, you can hire attendants that merely direct traffic, hold signs and guide drivers to empty spaces.

Mistake #9: Skipping the call sheets

Type up “call sheets” with the names of all passengers, all pickup and drop-off addresses and times, detailed directions to and from each destination and alternate routes, as well as you or your wedding planner's cell number. Give your drivers this information in advance and also pass the sheet to a few point people in each vehicle. Then, the day before the wedding, call to confirm these arrangements with the car company. Trust us, it's better to be a type A now than have to deal with MIA limos later.

Mistake #10: Leaving out the photographer

Save a seat in your car for your photographer. You're going to want those shots of you two on the way to the ceremony and of your first moments as a married couple en route to the reception.

Mistake #11: Overlooking your gifts

Although most guests will ship gifts directly to your home, it's still smart to designate one or two people to drive a larger car to the reception so that you have a place to pack any gifts at the end of the night, as well as any leftover centerpieces, keepsakes or cake.

Mistake #12: Not considering your dismount

Modes of transportation like horses and carriages, sporty cars, motorcycles, Vespas and tandem bikes are super-stylish, but they also make a super-stylish exit in a wedding gown hard. Getting out of a lowrider gracefully or moving on a two-wheeler requires some skill, especially in a dress and heels. So before the wedding day, think about how you'll make your exit from each vehicle. If you can practice while inspecting the car in person, even better.

-- Vi-An Nguyen