Organising wedding guest transport — how to get it right
Should you provide transport for your wedding guests?
There are so many difficult decisions that need to be made when planning a wedding. While many of these are fun and exciting — finding the perfect venue, picking a beautiful dress, and choosing the perfect wedding ring, for example — others are not so fun or glamorous.
One decision many couples struggle with, is whether or not they should be providing wedding transport for guests. Of course, it will partly come down to your budget and your personal priorities, but there can be many worthwhile benefits if you do decide to do this.
While you’re certainly not obliged to book transportation for wedding guests, it can be thoughtful to help family and friends from out of town who may be travelling long distances, and it can also help those without a car to more easily access your big event.
While some hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from the ceremony and reception venues, many of these run on their own specific schedules, have limited space, are also on-call for other hotel guests, and will only cover a 3–5 mile radius. If your venues are further apart you may need to think again.
Given the importance most brides and grooms place on having their nearest and dearest present on their big day, it would be a shame if having to sort out their own individual travel arrangements were to cause more stress than necessary for them — and ultimately, for you! Broken down cars, expensive and complicated train journeys, people getting lost, disabilities preventing people from travelling on public transport — these are just some of the issues that could possibly put a damper on your big day.
Organising transport for your wedding guests will ensure that they all arrive safely and on time, and your wedding will run much more smoothly as a result. Here are just a few of the things you WON’T have to worry about:
· Lost, stressed guests — particularly out-of-town guests who aren’t familiar with the area;
· Traffic delays — you will only need to monitor potential delays for one route, rather than for several;
· Late arrivals interrupting the ceremony;
· Finding a big enough car park for so many cars — very important where venues have limited parking;
· Drink-driving, and making sure tipsy guests get home safely;
· Guests outstaying their welcome at the reception;
· Inter-guest bonding — there’s nothing like a road-trip to get people chatting;
· How your guests will get from the ceremony to the reception venue, and/or the hotel;
· Transporting your wedding gifts from one location to another.
Having your own private minibus or coach will allow you to pre-plan the exact route, and will also eliminate the stress of trying to keep your wedding party together. You could also have a dedicated photographer travel with your guests — after all, you usually get a few priceless moments on a road trip!
What type of wedding guest transport should you choose?
Minibuses come in a variety of sizes — from 8-seaters to 19-seaters, and some are even larger. If you are transporting more than 30 people, you may want to consider bus or coach hire — old red London buses and vintage buses are particularly popular, but are usually significantly more expensive. Standard coaches usually hold up to 77 passengers, and can be an excellent wedding guest transport solution for larger parties.
Before starting to make enquiries, be sure to compile a list of any special amenities your wedding guests might need or appreciate. For example, if it’s a long journey to a summer wedding, you may want to ensure the vehicle has air conditioning and bottled water. You may want to have access to a stereo system to get your guests into the party mood with some pre-selected music. You may want your guests to have access to WiFi to follow your social media updates as you get yourself ready for your big day. Or you may need to ensure that there are car seats and spaces for wheelchairs if young children and disabled guests will be travelling.
How much does wedding guest transport cost?
As with all other wedding services, minibus and coach hire prices can vary, but it is wise to budget between £300 and £500 for your wedding guest transport. Ask for an itemised breakdown of the total cost when requesting a quote, and make sure that the price quoted includes any necessary VAT.
Wedding guest minibus or coach hire packages usually include pick up from key locations, transportation to and between all venues (e.g. ceremony venue and reception venue), and a return journey at the end of the night to the initial location(s) for those not staying over. Quotes should also include the cost of the driver, total fuel costs, insurances, and any extra amenities you have requested.
How to save on wedding guest transport
If you’re wondering how to keep wedding guest transport costs down, here are three tips for cutting costs without compromising on the quality of service:
1. Hire a standard minibus or coach rather than a novelty bus — it will work out so much cheaper! It can be a nice touch to have a vintage London bus to transport your guests if you have the budget, but it is certainly not a necessity — your guests won’t expect it, and it is much more important that they are comfortable, and arrive safely and on time. Save the extra-special touches for the bride and groom.
2. Choose a larger vehicle which can transport all of your guests at once, rather than two or three smaller vehicles — this way, it will cost less per passenger.
3. Ask your guests to contribute £5 per head towards the cost of hiring the minibus or coach. For most of them, this will cost much less than paying for fuel and parking for their own car, or for public transport fares and taxis. It will also mean that they will be able to indulge in a few drinks without needing to worry about how they will get home after the event.
Things to consider when booking your wedding guest transport
How far in advance should you book wedding guest transport?
April, May, and June are the busiest and most expensive months, so if your wedding takes place during this period be sure to book early — at least six months in advance — to get the best rates possible. Otherwise, you may be able to get away with booking between three and six months in advance. If you are planning a last-minute wedding, you may even be able to bag a cancellation deal if you’re prepared to put some effort into phoning around.
Before requesting your quotes, you will need to estimate roughly how many people will be travelling with the service. Although you are unlikely to know exact numbers at this stage, it is wise to communicate with all of your guests as soon as possible about their transport needs. The best way to do this is to include the option when you send out the invitations, and request that guests RSVP about their transport requirements by a specified deadline. This way, you’ll have a good idea whether you will need to hire a full-size 77-seater coach, or just a 16-seater minibus before you start seeking quotes.
When you have decided which wedding guest transport hire company to book with, secure the date as soon as you are able, but don’t confirm all the specifics too early on — take your time to work out the logistics of the journeys in advance.
Information you will need when requesting quotes:
· The date of the wedding;
· All venue locations, including postcodes;
· Approximate passenger numbers — be sure to overestimate rather than underestimate;
· The number of journeys and approximate timings;
· The type of vehicle(s) you require;
· The total length of time the vehicle and driver will be needed — remember to factor in all pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as travel between venues.
Questions to ask when contacting wedding transport providers
· Have they provided transport to your venues before? If not, can they organise a trial run in advance of your big day?
· Do they have reviews or client testimonials you can read?
· Are they fully insured with all the relevant legal licences?
· Can they provide alternative transport in the event of a breakdown?
· Is a fully qualified and experienced driver included in the price?
· What additional extras do they offer, and how much do these cost?
· What is their deadline for finalising timescales and numbers?
· How much deposit will you need to pay, and when will final payment be due?
Timings and logistics
Obviously, it is crucial to work out all the timings for your big day accurately, in advance, and your wedding guest transport will be a vital part of this.
First of all, you will need to decide whether you need just a simple transfer between the ceremony and reception venues, or multiple pick-ups and drop-offs throughout the day and the evening.
For example, you could arrange for the hire vehicle to pick up guests from a couple of key central locations — such as park-and-ride facilities — in their nearest city or town, rather than picking up each individual guest from their home addresses. Of course, much will depend on how many guests you intend to transport, and how far away from each other they live.
Another option might be for your guests to meet at the reception venue, and then be transported together to the ceremony venue and back again. This plan might be a good idea where ceremony venues have very limited parking available. It means that people who have opted to drive themselves can leave their vehicles safely at the reception venue, and they won’t be getting stressed trying to find somewhere to park immediately before the ceremony is due to start.
You might also want to consider the option of running your own shuttle service between the reception venue and people’s front doors during the evening — this way, your more local guests can enjoy a drink without worrying, and collect their cars from the reception venue the following day if this is permitted.
Your shuttle could also make multiple round-trips from your venue to the hotel (or hotels) where guests are staying. This way, older guests can choose to leave earlier if they wish, while those who want to party hard can stay until the very end. If you do decide to organise a to-and-fro shuttle, be sure to set the departure times appropriately so that your guests won’t miss anything major, such as the speeches or the first dance.
When thinking about how best to shuttle wedding guests between various locations — their homes, the ceremony venue, the reception venue, the hotel, etc — try to be as efficient as possible with the number of trips. This will save time, fuel and money.
When working out expected journey times, you will need to factor in loading and unloading times, as well as potential delays caused by any planned major roadworks on the route. You should also allow extra time for any potential unforeseen problems as part of your contingency planning. These might include unexpected traffic jams, vehicle breakdowns, extreme weather conditions, and guests needing to stop for extra unscheduled comfort breaks en route.
The journey itself…
It‘s usually a good idea to request that passengers arrive a good 10–15 minutes before the actual departure time to allow for anyone who may be running late.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to perform a head count just before the agreed departure time to ensure that everyone is on the bus, rather than relying on the driver for this. Give this person a list of passenger names, as well as all pick-up and drop-off addresses and times, directions for each destination, alternative routes in case of delays, and the contact number of your designated trouble-shooter for the day (e.g. your wedding planner). Of course, your driver should also be given a copy of this list in advance.
Finally, your trusted person should also be instructed to request that departure be delayed slightly if absolutely necessary, until tardy guests arrive.
To sum up then — although there is no obligation on your part to arrange transportation for your wedding guests, it can save everyone a great deal of hassle and money in the long-run, especially if you ask passengers to contribute a small amount each. By organising this transport in advance, you can rest assured that all your guests will arrive at your ceremony relaxed, refreshed, and on time.
You will have the peace of mind that your guests will be able to fully enjoy and celebrate your momentous day without having to abstain from drinking and worry about driving or negotiating public transport. Your guests will appreciate that you have thought about their needs too, and happy guests equals a happy wedding day!