A common mistake many couples make is to overlook the importance of planning ahead for limousine service and other wedding ground transportation. It is not uncommon for a limousine service to get a call two days before the wedding. Please keep in mind that weekends are the busiest periods for limousines so you should plan at least three to four months in advance to ensure availability.
An important thing to keep in mind is the enormous array of options available. In addition to traditional limousine service, you may also choose to arrange shuttle service from the hotel to your wedding venue, airport shuttles (vans or minibuses), and site-seeing trips for out-of-town friends and family (perhaps the day before the wedding). You may even decide to honor your special out-of-town guests with VIP service to and from the airport. If you are serving alcohol at the reception, it is advisable to provide some form of backup transportation for your guests.
Traditionally, the bride will ride with her parents to the wedding ceremony. The groom and best man will ride together in a second limo. The bride’s attendants will follow in a third vehicle. Another common configuration is for the maid-of-honor and best man to ride in the first limo with the couple. The rest of the wedding party follows in a second limo. Whatever you decide, make sure that the vehicles are large enough to keep everyone’s clothes wrinkle free. After the reception, you should also plan on service for the newlyweds from the reception to the airport or hotel.
Now that you’ve hopefully decided what you want, the important task is to make sure that you get what you expect. You should find out exactly what size the vehicles are, how may people can COMFORTABLY fit in the vehicles, the makes, models, years and colors (interior and exterior). If you are unsure, ask for a picture. You should also ask what the chauffeur/s will be wearing. Many chauffeurs will wear a tuxedo for weddings, which adds a classic touch. Ask what else is included in the package. Many wedding packages include complimentary champagne, red carpet and a customized "Just Married" sign. Keep in mind that newer limousines are typically equipped with better cooling and heating systems.
Once you make your reservation, insist on getting a written contract. The contract should include the date, itinerary, types of vehicles including years, makes, models and colors, rates (including gratuity and taxes), deposit amount and cancellation policy. If you are quoted a package rate, make sure the contract stipulates the rate for additional hours in case you decide to keep the vehicle/s for longer than expected. After making your reservation, you should reconfirm one month and one week prior to be on the safe side.
Make sure your limousine service gets a detailed copy of the schedule. You should provide them with instructions on where they will be going along with the names of each person traveling in each vehicle. If you want to get photographs of your grand entrance, make sure the limousine service knows in advance so the chauffeur doesn’t open the door before the photographer is ready.
When shopping for a limousine service, you will be faced with a wide range of prices for your desired services. Just as you wouldn’t choose a restaurant or hotel based solely on price, the same is true for your limousine service. Old or poorly maintained vehicles, unprofessional chauffeurs, tardy service and lack of proper insurance coverage are potential risks of lower priced limousine services. If you base your decision on price alone, you will likely have a disappointing wedding day experience. Use the Bliss! Weddings limousine worksheet to help you make an informed decision.