Wedding transportation is one of those logistical details that simultaneously ranks very high on the list of "important wedding logistics that take time" and very low on the list of "fun wedding logistics that take time". While it is by no means a requirement to provide transportation for guests, there are certain weddings where it would be a nice bonus to your guests' comfort level and would make their lives a whole lot easier.
Providing transportation may be a great idea if your wedding....is at a venue with very limited parking or no parking, has separate ceremony and reception venues that are a far distance, if the hotel block where your guests are staying and venue are a far distance, has difficult roads getting to the venue, has a crowd that really loves alcoholic beverages, consists of mostly out of town guests.
Wedding transportation is a balancing act of 3 main criteria, and when each side of the triangle trifecta is adjusted and planned accordingly, you will get the perfect combination of a great flow of wedding transportation. It's impossible to discuss wedding transportation without these three factors - timing, how many shuttles or busses are booked, and how large the shuttles or busses are (how many people can fit, and actual size).
Wedding transportation is a great tool to help your wedding run more smoothly, when timing is planned properly. You should know exactly when your guests will arrive because you planned the shuttle schedule and you know approximately how long it takes the shuttle to get from the pick up location to the wedding venue. You will most likely have to schedule a few pick ups for guests (depending on guest count, size of shuttles, and how large), so make sure you are clear with guests about the time and location of the pick ups so no one gets left behind! Be aware of how early the shuttles may need to start picking up guests in order to complete enough rounds to get all of your guests to the venue before the ceremony. If you are hiring minimal transportation, which may mean the pick ups start early, make sure you have planned enough time for the ceremony/reception set up so everything (or almost everything) is ready to go by the time your first guests begin to arrive. You want to be able to offer your guests something to drink or eat if they have to wait another hour for the rest of the guests to arrive via shuttle. When planning pick up timing, work with the shuttle company to estimate how long it will take for the pick up (usually 10 minutes to load on), driving time, and drop off (another 5-10 minutes) and then driving time back to the pick up location to know what time you can schedule that shuttle for its next pick up. Figuring out shuttle pick up times is often determined by figuring out what time you need the last shuttle to arrive, and then calculating back.
When planning the pick ups at the end of the night, make sure you don't keep your guests stranded. Be mindful if you have families with kids or elderly guests attending. Families with small children or babies and older guests usually will leave after cake cutting - so make sure you have an early shuttle scheduled. Also, if your venue has a strict end time, make sure to schedule enough moderately early shuttles to ensure your guests are out on time to give your planner enough time to strike everything without guests still standing around waiting. As a planner, I always make sure I do not let a shuttle leave if its too empty to avoid extra trips (read: extra $$) at the end of the night to pick up the few people stuck because the shuttles weren't full enough. Paying for additional overages is expensive, so make sure you know how many trips the shuttles will make and the calculation of how many people need to be on each shuttle to match with the trip count.
How many people do you have coming to your wedding? Are there difficult terrain features to get to the venue? Is there a really narrow turn-around area at the drop off/pick up location? Consider these when deciding what size shuttle or bus to book. You want to make sure you get transportation large enough that each bus or shuttle doesn't have to do more than 3 trips each, but not too large that they can't navigate up the cliff side road to your venue, or turn around to go back down without falling off the mountain. Keep in mind that ordering the largest shuttle isn't always the best option - for instance, just because all of your guests can fit into 3 large shuttles, doesn't mean that the 40 people to fill each shuttle will want to leave at the same time (or that you want that many people leaving early enough to get the guests out in large chunks), so a bigger shuttle may still have to do a similar number of rounds at the end of the night.
There is not much worse than having your guests board the shuttle 2 hours before the ceremony starts, and have them sitting around at the venue waiting. Making your guests wait for too long defeats the purpose of why you hired shuttles in the first place -- to make your guests' lives easier! Certain wait times are unavoidable, but do your best to work out appropriate timing for guests to arrive and calculate how many shuttles that means you will need to ensure your guests aren't spending half their day at the venue waiting for the wedding to start. The amount of shuttles you need also heavily relies on how large your shuttles are. Also, keep in mind that trying to cut costs and have fewer shuttles means that the amount of time each shuttle driver is working will be longer, which often costs more than hiring one more shuttle.
Booking and figuring out transportation logistics is one of those un-glamorous wedding planning aspects that is sometimes necessary, and often not fun to figure out. As a planner, this is one of the most common items I help clients with since it is such a vital part of your wedding - after all, a wedding with late guests from poor shuttle timeline planning, or a wedding where guests have to leave way too early because too few shuttles were booked to get everyone out on time, or overestimating the time it takes to bring guests back from the venue, will lead to a less than ideal wedding situation and your guests may feel like they are being pushed every which way to get on the shuttles. Make sure you consider your guests first and foremost when planning your shuttles, since they are who will be taking the shuttles and the reason you are booking them in the first place!
What is the most helpful transportation booking tip you received? Leave your comment below!