Get me to the church on time

Published date: 20th August 2019 | Author: Hollie Bond

Unless you are just starting out on your planning journey you already know that weddings are complicated. That’s certainly the case with arranging wedding transport, a subject with more to it than you’d think, including (far from uniquely) the potential for upsetting people.


Two questions need to be answered first up. What sort of vehicles do you want? And who will you be transporting?

The classic choice tends to be Rolls Royce or Bentley supplied with a chauffeur, the service provided by a professional wedding car company. Comfort, reliability and style all rolled into one. But there are loads of other options: though for many the limo is reserved for the hen night rather than the wedding day, it has its admirers. And there are many other classic vehicles to consider – ancient jalopies, American gas-guzzlers with massive fins, or even the really retro carriage and horses. Katie Price thought the Cinderella coach look suited one of her weddings, for the other it was a kind of A-Team B.A. Baracus big-black-van style. Ok then.

If you have a family member with a particularly cherished (and suitable) vehicle, especially if it’s the bride’s father’s, it is another alternative to the let’s face it expensive wedding-hire service. Will it look good with white ribbons and a posy or two? (Silk flowers best by the way, they take movement better than delicate roses).

Elements to consider in your choice include reliability of the vehicle, the likely weather (open top carriages and cars are great in the sun, awful in the rain), how much room your dress needs, and what look you want for the photos taken in and near the thing.

You need to liaise with the providers well in advance of course, not least to make sure they know the route – if you haven’t seen the Top Gear show spoof where they made a mess of it maybe it’s best not to – and have a very good idea of the timings. A minute or two late is ok, when it gets to 10 or 15 things get sweaty on all sides. As so often, recommendations from recently-married friends are helpful, and talking to the company before you book is highly advised – we list plenty, so do some research and make those calls. Ask too what is included in the package – champers after the tying of the knot? Is the driver in uniform? Car decorated with ribbons? And make sure they are hired for the amount of time needed, and won’t want to be dashing off to another engagement with little leeway in case of slippage.

Unless it’s a very small affair – in which case maybe surprise your H2B with a sports car hired for the day or even the honeymoon – you’ll need one car for the bride and whoever is giving you (her) away, usually dad if available. Then there’s one for the bride’s mother and bridesmaids, and one for the maid of honour and a flower girl or two for additional bridesmaids or pages if you are having them.

It’s your wedding, so you make (most of) the rules. But the general etiquette is worth knowing. Normally the car(s) carrying the bride’s mother, maid of honour, and bridesmaids go(es) before the bride’s, though not always. It may be good to have the bridesmaids at the church before you to help with straightening the dress, and of course carrying any train. Whatever the order, it is usual for the bride’s mother to sit in the front seat, bridesmaids in the back. And a factor easy to forget, there needs to be room on the next stage – to the reception – for the bride’s father, though modern families can make this complex. You sort it out beforehand.

In the bride’s car she should sit on whichever side makes things easy getting out – generally the nearside, but check with the driver. On arrival the giver-away waits for the chauffeur to open the door, then alights; the chauffeur then proceeds to open the door for the bride. Here the photographer (and video maker if you are going down that route) needs to be ready to capture that exit from the vehicle.

As ever throughout the planning process, don’t forget the groom. He and his best man will need transport to the church or registry office. Some go for a hired vehicle for them, others leave it in the hands of the best man to arrange, generally with him driving. A tip here is to have another mate on hand in case of car troubles. If you do, none will happen. If you don’t, fingers crossed.

Most weddings leave the guests to arrive at the church under their own steam, and that makes it easy for you – but do give them the right time so they can be in and seated before the bride’s arrival.

Getting from the church or wherever you hold the ceremony to the reception venue can bring a few pitfalls. It’s a good idea to provide maps from A to B, with the address including postcode for SatNav users if guests are driving themselves there – ushers can be detailed to hand these out after the ceremony, there is plenty of time during the first photos.

An alternative arrangement is gaining in popularity it appears: laying on a bus or other transport to take the guests to the reception, though that inevitably means other logistical problems – parking, returning to vehicles etc. It makes sense if you are all staying at the same hotel in which case cars can be left there and the bus used to and from.

Post-ceremony etiquette is simpler: bride and groom generally leave first so they are ready for the meet-and-greet line-up. Next the bridesmaids with the best man; then both sets of parents. Finally the guests – did you remember to find a venue with plentiful parking? It is the job of the best man to manage the post-ceremony vehicle arrangements.

The final bit of etiquette – well, more tradition – involves decorating the going-away car: filling it with balloons (if emptying it won’t annoy too many neighbours) is fun; likewise tying tin cans to the rear and writing ‘Just Married’ on the rear window – or using stickers these days. Be careful not to do anything that will ruin paintwork or make the vehicle unsafe!

You don’t necessarily need to handle all this yourselves – wedding planners may not be cheap, but they can take the weight from your shoulders and know (and can generally cope with) pretty much everything that could go wrong. And they are likely to have a very good idea of which car provider is good, and to rule out any in whom they are not totally confident.

One final bit of advice. Sit back and enjoy the journeys, savour every moment of the day including those car trips and the first sip of married champagne. With luck you’ll have memories to last a lifetime together.


Written by

Hollie Bond

Hollie is a lifestyle journalist with over ten years’ experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Hollie has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques. In her spare time you can find Hollie in a dance studio practising ballet…

Learn more about Hollie Bond

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