Stop worrying about your friends and family fumbling around unfamiliar territory on your wedding day. Put their minds (and yours) at ease by providing shuttle service between hotels and ceremony and reception sites for all your guests—it's a lifesaver not only for out-of-towners but for locals who prefer not to get behind the wheel. And with destination weddings on the rise, this increasingly popular perk is quickly becoming an essential part of the wedding-day package. Here, a few fun and creative ways you can chauffeur guests around:
The bride and groom don't have to be the only ones to enjoy this romantic ride. Cedar Knoll Farm in Lisbon, CT, has a 12-person horse and carriage called a wagonette that is often used to transport wedding guests short distances. The black wagonette with walnut panels is typically pulled by two horses (brides choose the type of horse) and can be decorated with silk flowers and bows in the couple's wedding colors. "A lot of people get a big kick out of it," says owner Elaine Keeley. Rates start at $750 for three hours, cedarknoll.net.
Rio San Antonio Cruises regularly uses its water taxis to transport wedding guests between hotels and ceremony and reception sites located along the city's famed River Walk. "People wave at the guests as they go past," says area wedding planner Jennifer Ramirez-Jasiczek. "It's a lot better than walking." And extremely scenic too. River cruise rates start at $80 per 20 people per trip, riosanantonio.com.
Give your guests some independence with personal golf carts. Chicago-based wedding planner D'rita Robinson recently served up golf carts for a 225-guest destination wedding at Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa in South Carolina. The island doesn't permit cars, so the golf carts were key to helping guests get around: "It just helps people go a little faster and easier. A lot of them don't realize how helpful they are until they have them." Rental fees average around $25 per day.
Ideal for casual fall weddings, this one can be especially fun for kids. Thornapple Farms in New Haven, VT, has a 25-seat trolley pulled by two Percheron horses. It has a roof but no doors and is perfect for taking guests from a parking area to an out-of-the-way ceremony or reception spot. Rates start at $450 for two hours. Hayrides can also add to a fall wedding's ambience, but beware that some guests might be allergic to the hay, vthorsedrawnservices.com.
Many wedding planners agree this is the most popular way to shuttle guests from one location to another—and the ride can often be an extension of the celebration. "People always have such a good time getting to know the people on the bus," says Boston-based wedding planner Alexis Eliopoulos O'Mara. Greyhound Buses that seat about 50 people are available for charter, and rates start at about $380 for five hours, greyhound.com.
Generally a more affordable option than a coach bus, packing guests into a big yellow school bus can provide a fun, relaxed and, for some, sweetly nostalgic ride. In fact, it proved an especially fitting service for one of O'Mara's recent clients—a second-grade teacher. She personalized her school bus by displaying, in each window, drawings her students had created for the occasion. Contact your local school bus company for pricing information.
Sightseeing or wedding-specific trolleys (white with minimal writing) are often employed by brides for toting their guests around town. Keep in mind: Sightseeing trolleys, while often the less expensive option of the two, are typically open-air, and many wedding guests (especially those who've spent a lot of time on their coif) don't always love them. Wedding-specific trolleys, such as Kenny's Coach in Weymouth, MA, are enclosed, climate-controlled and even offer complimentary champagne. The company charges $899 plus gratuity for three hours on a Saturday night, kennyscoach.com.
What could be more picturesque for a winter wedding than transporting guests by sleigh? Denise Latousek of DL Event Planning in Aspen says that in the winter, a sleigh is the only way to transport guests to the popular Pine Creek Cookhouse in nearby Ashcroft. Guests are instructed in their invitations to bundle up and are treated to a 20-minute Clydesdale-pulled sleigh ride to the site on the couple's big day. The sleigh ride costs about $25 per person, but group rates are available.
Couples who've chosen to get married at the Aspen Mountain Club atop Aspen Mountain can shuttle guests to the summit with a 16-minute gondola ride. In the winter, guests can enjoy blankets and hot chocolate or hot cider, explains Latousek. Rates start at about $15 per guest during regular operating hours and $750 per extra hour it remains open.
Boston's famed land-sea vehicles, known for providing out-of-towners with a tour of the city, can also be chartered for weddings that take place downtown. Each DUCK seats about 32 people, and brides can request a specific color of boat as well as their favorite conDUCKtor, who can also point out the sights. Guests can be taken either by land or along Boston Harbor. Rates start at $675 for 80 minutes—the length of a normal tour, bostonducktours.com.
Who says limos are only for the wedding party? Some couples treat all their guests to a luxury ride. This option works especially well for smaller weddings. Bauer's Limousine in San Francisco has more than 40 limousines in its fleet, and group rates are available, bauerslimousine.com.