Although it may not be the first thing you think about when planning your dream wedding, parking and transportatation are important aspects of your wedding day logistics! Ensuring your guests arrive easily and safely should always be top of mind. To help in this process, we suggest you consider these five things when you begin your transportation deliberation:
1. Research Your Venue
Your Mayflower Venues listing will provide you with a high level overview of what to expect for parking at your venue, including-
- If your venue has on-site parking, and if so, how many vehicles can it accommodate
- Where the designated parking area is located on the venue site
- Any other additional information as it pertains to parking at the venue site
You can also work with our venue-specific support team to confirm shuttle accessibility such as turn around and drop off points.
2. Consider Your Guests
Start by considering whether your guests are local or from out of town, and what their travel preferences might be. For couples with local guests or a heavy concentration in older guests, we typically see a preference of more on-site parking. For couples that have many folks coming in from out of town, there is more of a focus on shuttling from the airport to stay on-site or in local accommodations.
3. Don't Forget Your Vendors
Beyond your guests, you’ll need to consider your entire vendor team. As you book your vendors, be sure to ask how many spaces they’ll need for both parking and loading/unloading. Unless they are arriving by boat (or maybe parachute:), everyone from your hair and makeup artist, to the officiant, musicians, photographer and catering staff, will need a place to park or a ride on a rented shuttle.
4. Understand Your Options
Once you understand what your venue offers and allows, combined with your guest and vendor needs, you can start comparing the options to determine what’s right for your event. From self-park, to valet or shuttles, here are the pros and cons-
Self Park: Self park can be an economical option, but does require some heavy preparation and on-site leadership to get right.
If using self-park be sure to:
- Design a safe traffic pattern large enough for all vehicles
- Erect lots of signage directing everyone where to go and clearly marking each area, i.e. guest drop-off, VIP and handicap parking, main guest parking, event staff, and vendor loading/unloading
- Install sufficient lighting to mark the parking and guide everyone safely on their way home
- Earmark a few attendants and have them on-site plenty early. Remember vendors start to arrive 3-4 hours before an event and need to be directed where to go too
Valet: If your parking area is large, far away, or in a dimly lit or uneven field, valet is likely your best option for anyone driving. This will ensure the safety and comfort of your guests. That said, if you are looking for valet, be sure to hire an insured and professional company. Managing 100 sets of keys (in the dark) is not as easy as it looks - trust us when we say, you’ll want to leave that to the pros!
Shuttles: Shuttles are typically a favorite option for couples that book a venue with limited parking, or for events that are serving alcohol. You can use a local hotel, school or church lot for pick-up and drop-off and ensure everyone arrives on time and returns home safely.
Worried about costs? Consider hiring multiple shuttles on the front end, and then cutting down to just 1 or 2 at the end of the night. While all your guests need to arrive at roughly the same time, guests are often happy with a bit more freedom at the end of the night to leave at their own discretion.
Ride Shares: Ride shares are great if your guests are coming from various towns or overnight accommodations. However, they only work if there is sufficient density in your venue’s area. A local shortage might result in guests arriving late to the big event. If using ride shares, you’ll still want good signage and an attendant directing vehicles to the right drop-off location with ample turn around space to minimize congestion.
Taxis: Whether your guests drive or arrive on shuttles, you’ll always want a Plan B. We recommend having a list of local taxi phone numbers on hand AND distributed to your guests ahead of time. You never know; maybe Uncle Joe missed the bus, or that old college roommate had one too many by the night’s end. When the curtain calls, it’s always better to be prepared for mishaps to ensure the ultimate guest experience!
5. Communicate The Plan
Far too many times, we see couples do all the up-front research, book the right vendors, but not communicate the plan! It breaks our heart to hear Grandma showed up at a venue with no parking, or that guests were turned around towards the local shuttle lot, only to cause a ceremony delay!
To help ensure everyone knows the plan, we always recommend sending it out ahead of time, adding it to your Mayflower Venues Custom Wedding Website, and leaving copies in your guest gift bags or the hotel front desk.
Ready to start putting together your transportation plan? Log into your account to see your venue specific-logistics template and and get started by asking for a recommended vendor today!