How to get guests from the parking lot to the wedding?
September 6, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Wedding transport help. A friend of mine is getting married and I'm helping arrange logistics. We're going to have the guests all park in a public parking lot about a mile from the site of the wedding (which is at someone's house - there is no closer place than this parking lot to fit ~100 guests' cars). The question is how best to get them from the parking lot to the site of the wedding? More details below.

Our best current working idea is some variation of:

renting a couple passenger vans from a rental car place and paying some trusted friends to shuttle people back and forth between the parking lot and the house. Problem is a lot of obvious candidates will already be attending the wedding, and would there be an insurance factor/liability?

It seems like there must be some companies that deal with this kind of thing (limos, party buses, chartering vans/buses for travel) but i'm unclear on how to proceed. Cost isn't a giant factor but would prefer not to shell out a ton of money for this service, since we're pretty sure we could go the friends/rental vans route for say $500 or less for the day, and the wedding cost is already creeping upward obviously.

The wedding takes place at someone's house in a small town (~3000 people) about an hour away from a large city, if that helps to imagine what sorts of travel options are available in each of the two places.

Thanks for all help! And feel free to ask clarification questions if needed.
posted by pineapple carver to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total)
We had a similar situation at the venue we got hitched, and the venue's solution was to use valets. They were contracted out through the catering company, and it worked delightfully.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:54 PM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'd start with getting a quote for a minibus and driver. Just google "bus charter city". Should be a piece of cake to get a minibus that could shuttle say 24 guests (and gifts etc) at a time. Depending how long the wedding/reception will go just hire it for x hours and any guests that stay super-late are stuck with a cab or appoint a DD.

I hired one to get a crowd to a football game, can't remember the cost but for your needs I'd be surprised if a few hundred bucks wouldn't cover it easily. Probably cheaper than renting minivans...
posted by raider at 4:06 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can probably rent a rubber tired trolley but are you sure you really need this? You'll have to offer the service for the entire duration of the wedding and reception, which could get pricey.

But 100 guests = 50 cars, give or take, right? It's a small town so people can park on the road and everyone will tolerate the situation for the sake of a wedding. If you're worried about people getting safely back to their cars in the dark, give out cheap LED lights, perhaps inscribed with the name of the bride and groom, as party favors.
posted by carmicha at 4:12 PM on September 6, 2012

Valet with the option to self park and walk the mile. Just tell people where the lot is and a bunch of them will opt to walk it.
posted by 26.2 at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

Party bus-type places do this all the time. I've been to several weddings with smallish buses running people out to the ceremony location and/or reception. If it's anything other than a super casual wedding the small buses are definitely better than a 15-passenger van, because it's harder to clamber in and out of the van, especially when your guests might be wearing suits, dresses, high heels, etc.

Disagreeing with 26.2 -- very few people will walk it. Many ladies will be wearing shoes that are not comfortable for walking a mile there and/or a mile back to the car.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

BlahLaLa - My husband would drop me off and go park. It really depends on the people in question, but a lot of people don't especially like to valet especially for an event where everyone is going to be leaving at approximately the same time.
posted by 26.2 at 4:21 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You've probably got this covered, but just in case, make sure you have permission to use this parking lot for this purpose. It would certainly put a damper in the festivities if people got ticketed or towed.

Is there a recommended hotel? It seems like it would make more sense to arrange transport from the hotel than make people park somewhere and then take a bus.
posted by grouse at 4:25 PM on September 6, 2012

My cousin did something similar to this for her wedding, she rented shuttle busses. I think this is pretty common.
posted by radioamy at 4:26 PM on September 6, 2012

Valet for sure. Some people don't like to use unfamiliar vehicles for perfectly legitimate reasons like disabilities and assistive devices. My 97 year-old grandmother is fine getting in our family sedan but would have to be carried up the steps of a charter bus. If you go the charter vehicle route, make sure everyone's needs are covered.

Unless your liability insurance is AMAZING, I would not in a million years use friends who might have even one sip of alcohol during the reception. This is exactly why you hire companies that have appropriate insurance protection.
posted by lalex at 4:28 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

For a casual and affordable option, check out the local school bus service.
posted by okay-quiet-time at 4:47 PM on September 6, 2012

Another vote for valet. If they can afford it, it will solve all of their problems. Particularly if there's a sheltered place for people to wait for their cars in case of rain.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:47 PM on September 6, 2012

Thanks for all help! And feel free to ask clarification questions if needed.

I would think ahead of time whether this is "Absolutely everyone has to do this, no exceptions we'll make it work for everyone" or whether there might be exceptions for folks with disabilities and the like (five children who need to be unloaded and held on to, people with heavy packages, who knows...). So like three cars can park at the house and everyone else can't? Or no cars can park at the house at all? And if it's the former, find ways to reach out to people and/or politely get across to people that while great-grandma can park there because she has a walker, the folks with the four kids will be asked to please take the valet with everyone else. A little diplomacy can go a long way towards having people not be rattled with this and acting like you are HELPING by doing the thing that is mildly inconvenient is often something that helps things go well.
posted by jessamyn at 4:48 PM on September 6, 2012

My friend rented a couple school buses for her wedding. Affordable and adorable.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:03 PM on September 6, 2012

Walking from parking lot to the house is not an option - there is no shoulder or sidewalk on the road, folks will be dressed up, and it's likely to be quite hot. The house is out in the country - rural area - sorry i didn't think to type that in the OP.

Of course for special cases we can have some people be dropped off at the house. There is just no option to park on the road and parking in neighbors' driveways isn't an option either. And the yard will be full of wedding tent and caterers and stuff.

I appreciate all the answers so far!
posted by pineapple carver at 5:28 PM on September 6, 2012

It's an afternoon wedding - night won't be involved and there aren't any hotels to speak of in the small town. Sorry to thread-sit but I figured providing some more information would be useful. The majority of people will be coming from the city about an hour away.
posted by pineapple carver at 5:31 PM on September 6, 2012

Another vote for valet, my brother did shuttle buses and people kept missing them. Maybe your folks are more prompt but it was a real pita.
posted by fshgrl at 5:44 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shuttle buses. If you can, set up a little welcome booth and tent with a few chairs so people can get out of the sun and wait in comfort. Shouldn't take much, and it could be done by a friend with a pop-up sun shade.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:49 PM on September 6, 2012

Of course for special cases we can have some people be dropped off at the house. There is just no option to park on the road and parking in neighbors' driveways isn't an option either. And the yard will be full of wedding tent and caterers and stuff.

Again, valets. People pull up to the house, the valets take the car back to the parking lot.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:57 AM on September 7, 2012

I don't see how valets will work, if they have to walk a mile back to the house, unless you've got one or two (or more?) valets shuttling the valets back to the house. There's always a last minute crunch as people arrive late, which can be mitigated by the head valet who just takes the key and gives a ticket, but doesn't move the car - the cars pile up momentarily, but everyone get's to the wedding on time (the valets move the cars while the wedding proceeds). And for leaving, you'll need radios, and tickets (insurance?)... 100 guests, 10 valets, maybe?

No, too complicated. Get 3 15 passenger vans (those Sprinter ones if possible), so no one has to wait more than 5 mins. Ask local churches, schools, senior centers, white-water rafting places. Pay neighbors (or bored nieces and nephews) to drive (again - insurance?).

Or.... hayride? Got a flatbed truck on the farm?
posted by at at 6:25 PM on September 7, 2012

Valets don't work well for events where most people will be arriving at the same time because it ends up crushing the valet line for that half an hour or so. If it's only a mile away, a mini-bus will make the round trip in just a few minutes, so even one will probably cover you with no problems.

The buses will be faster loading and unloading than vans because people can walk on and off. Plus, during the main crush period, people will likely be willing to stand once the seats are full. (Legality may vary in your jurisdiction) whereas in a mini-van, legally they'll probably all have to be seated and belted.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:37 PM on September 12, 2012

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