This is part two of my series called “Smooth Operator”. (You can catch up here) Weddings are a scary beast when you are on the outside looking in. There are so many factors to consider that have nothing to do with how pretty your wedding day will be. A well-thought out timeline can be the difference in a flawless wedding day and anarchy (ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic but you know what I mean). The first part of the series I highlighted some overall concepts to take into consideration; this post is all about incorporating transportation into your timeline.
I will end the debate now. Yes, provide a shuttle for your guests. I know this service can get expensive but in my honest opinion it is worth every penny. Now for the logistics:
- Google Maps is your friend but nothing can replace actually driving the route. Let’s be honest, Maryland traffic blows. On a map it might show the route only takes 15 minutes but in reality it takes 25 because of all the traffic lights. I initially map out the route so I can estimate how long I will need shuttles and then I actually drive the route before contracting the service.
- Buffer time (are you starting to sense my theme with timelines?). It is safe to assume that your Great Aunt will need more time to get off the bus than your 10 year old cousin. I estimate anywhere from 5-10 minutes for the bus to load AND another 10 minutes for the bus to unload.
- Always, always, always account for the time to travel back to the hotel if you have the same shuttle making two trips. Unfortunately many brides don’t account for that last trip back to the hotel, their timeline is off and their guests miss half the ceremony.
Photo Credit: Michael and Carina Photography
- Take into account the size of the vehicle, total hours, and number of vehicles needed when contracting for your guest shuttles. There is not a one size fits all model. I have worked with many transportation companies that now offer two hours before the ceremony and two hours after the reception instead of a minimum number of hours. I feel this is the most practical approach to guest shuttles but that brings me to my next point…
- Take your guests into consideration. Do you have many elderly guests that would be happy to leave after the cake is cut or is the majority of the guest list your college friends that will pack the dance floor until the last song? You should allow options for both guests; you don’t want Grandpa falling asleep at his table.
- Another important factor to take into consideration is when the first shuttle is arriving and what that will mean for your picture timeline. If you are a traditional bride that doesn’t want anyone seeing you until you walk down the aisle then make sure you are safely tucked away before guests get there.
- Last but certainly not least, take yourselves into consideration! Will you want to get on the bus with everyone and spearhead the after-party or will you want a few minutes alone to soak in the day? I once had to drive a bride and groom to their hotel room because they didn’t account for how they were getting home!