Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Cans on the Getaway Car

Wedding getaway car with tin cans

Photo by Henry + Mac; Planning and Design by GLASS Event Planning

Weddings can be steeped in tradition, or they can be completely modern and unexpected. It’s all about putting together the right details that work for you and your partner. And while tying a string of tin cans to the back of a getaway car may not be as common as it used to be, the tradition certainly still stands for many couples.

What Is the Tradition of Cans on the Getaway Car?

This tradition follows the idea of letting everyone know a couple has recently been married as they drive away from the reception site. Cans are tied to strings and attached to the back of the getaway car to put on a show and make some noise.

While including tin cans on the back of a getaway car may not be as popular during more modern-day weddings, the tradition is still certainly being incorporated in a variety of ways. “It helps keep the special day going whether from the church to the venue or from the venue to the hotel,” says Lindsey Hartsough, owner of Magnolia Event Design

Meet the Expert

  • Lindsey Hartsough is the owner of Magnolia Event Design, an event planning company based in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Elizabeth Lutz is the owner of Glass Event Planning, an event planning boutique based in Rhode Island.

Ready to dive in to discover more about the meaning of including wedding cans on the getaway car? Read on to learn about this tradition's history and the unique ways it can still be executed.

The History and Meaning of Wedding Cans on the Getaway Car

According to Hartsough, the tradition of tying cans to a getaway car’s bumper is said to have come from the French word charivari, or shivaree, meaning to perform a noisy mock and celebrate a newly married couple. “It was used as a way to noisily serenade the couple as they drove away,” she says. But at first, tin cans weren’t the way of making noise. According to Elizabeth Lutz, owner of Glass Event Planning, wedding guests would serenade the newlyweds with a mash of sounds from pots, pans, and other noisemakers. “It evolved over the years, and these cacophonous serenades included guests following the newlyweds to their home and standing outside while they performed the shivaree,” says Lutz. Luckily, that’s not a practice we’re seeing anymore today. When the cans came into tradition, it was also at the same time as writing ‘Just Married’ on the back of the getaway car’s window came into practice, furthering the grandeur of the announcement for the newlyweds. 

In current times, couples are still sometimes jetting off in decked-out getaway cars. However, it’s common to see additional items tied in with the tin cans to make it all the more personal. “Anytime we have a getaway car, we like to tie something to the back, again to have passersby join in the celebration,” says Hartsough.

Wedding Cans on the Getaway Car FAQS 

Who should decorate the getaway car?

Anyone up for the job can be tasked with decorating the getaway car and adding the cans. According to Lutz, if the couple requests the tin can tradition, then typically the job will be tackled by a family member, friend, or member of the bridal party. A couple may enlist the help of their wedding planner as well.

Having cans on your getaway car won't come automatically. If you do want to take part in this tradition, be sure to express your desire for wedding cans to your wedding planner or a member of your wedding party or family.

When should cans be tied to the back of the getaway car?

The cans should be prepped ahead of time if you plan to include painted cans to match your wedding palette. String the cans before the big day, and entrust someone with the job of tying them on the back of the getaway car after the ceremony, before your reception comes to a close.

What are some creative ideas for decorating the cans?

Consider painting the tin cans to match your wedding palette. Hartsbough also suggests incorporating colorful ribbons and flowers, in addition to the strung-up cans. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the decoration. “Get creative and have fun with it!” says Lutz. “Make it personal to the couple—if they share an interest, perhaps incorporate that, and of course, don’t forget to put their wedding date on some.”

While you certainly want beautifully decorated cans on display, don't spend too much time going overboard if you're decorating them on your own. After all, they will be dragging on the ground for a while, so inevitably your designs will be a bit roughed up. Simple decorations are sure to do the trick here.

How many cans should be tied to the back of the getaway car?

It’s not hard to imagine how loud clanking tin cans might be as you’re driving off into the sunset. So, you don’t want to go overboard on cans. Getaway cars will typically incorporate six cans, potentially up to eight, to add a little noise to the celebration.

What else should be incorporated into the getaway car display?

As the tradition of the wedding cans has always been to boldly announce the couple’s marriage, a big, beautiful sign or lettering on the car might be appropriate as well. Securing a beautiful ‘Just Married’ sign to the back of the car can make the getaway car display that much more special. 

How to Put Wedding Cans on the Getaway Car

Of course, the last thing you want is for your beautifully decorated cans to fall off as the car takes off. Be sure you’re set up for success. According to Lutz, premade cans can be purchased on Etsy if you’re looking for a quick solution. But if you’re planning to make your own, a few key points should be taken into consideration. “The key is to make sure you use different lengths of line,” says Lutz. “This will create that iconic look."

Select a strong line for the cans, such as twine, and attach the twine by either punching a hole in the can and tying it through, or you can wrap the string around the can multiple times, using hot glue to attach it. When it comes time to attach the cans, tie them to the bumper or trailer hitch of the getaway car, and be sure you tie your knots very tight. 

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