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transportation countdown

6–9 Months Before
Before your search begins, make sure there are no vehicle restrictions at your ceremony or reception sites. Make a list of all the people you need to transport (the bride, groom, parents, grandparents, and bridal party), then start researching rental companies and make a reservation.

4 Weeks Before
Pass any travel updates or changes to your rental company (and get changes initialed and in writing). Get an after-hours phone number of someone at the limo company in case of emergencies that come up.

1 Week Before
Confirm your reservation with your transportation company. Check with your local department of traffic to see whether traffic patterns are restricted by street fairs or other events that could affect your time frame.

1 Day Before
Call the driver the morning of your wedding to make sure your ride will be on time. When your driver arrives, give him detailed directions, maps, and contact numbers.

vintage wedding car

10 Basic Wedding Transportation Tips

It takes a little know-how to get to your wedding on time and in style with your bridal party and guests in tow.

Photo: Lauren Kinsey Photography

Book a car company at least six months out

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 May or June -- 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.

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 too, there are lots of options for your wedding wheels. me ideas to get you started: A sleek silver Rolls-Royce works for a modern loft wedding, a pimped-out party bus goes perfectly with a hip hotel affair and a bicycle built for two makes sense at a charming vintage celebration.

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 -- give them the chance to celebrate without having to worry about how to get around. If you're not traveling to the ceremony with them, consider getting them their own limo or trolley. Once the ceremony is over, duck into a dream ride with your entire entourage for the 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.

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 charter bus or shuttle, which holds up to 60 passengers, will usually do the trick (it can take a couple trips). Or, you could go the extra mile with something with character to match your wedding -- like a fleet of yellow school buses for a blast from the past or a double-decker bus for a city affair.

Make your reservation in person

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). And while the company may not be able to pinpoint the exact car you'll have on the wedding day, you can avoid any unwelcome surprises by making sure the fleet looks like it's in good shape before putting down a deposit.

Add 20 to 30 minutes of pad time to every trip

You never know -- with traffic, unexpected delays and the task of getting excited people into multiple cars, it's a good idea to add 20 to 30 minutes to each trip you'll be making. 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 events (think: sporting events or festivals) that might be going on during your wedding day that might cause interruptions and add extra travel time.

Plan to pay for wait time

Most rental companies charge by the hour and require a minimum time period, typically three hours. In most cases, this means that you'll contract them for the full day. Either way, you should 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. (Our opinion: Just pay for the wait. It'll save you stress because your driver will be there for you all day.) Expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour, plus a 15 to 20 percent tip, which is usually included in the contract (sales tax may also be charged). If it's not included, a $20 tip for each driver will cover your bases.

Be a diva

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.

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.

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 mood-setting 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.

-- Vi-An Nguyen

See More: Wedding Transportation , Wedding Planning Basics