It's your big day. You have found your soul mate, the perfect dress and the perfect place for your ceremony and reception. Bridal party has been selected, menu has been decided upon and invitations have been sent. All of your details seem to be in order, so everything should be smooth sailing as soon as you get there. But how are you getting there? As with most things wedding, there are some etiquette rules surrounding wedding cars.
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Historically speaking, riding to the church is a fairly recent convention when it comes to matrimony. For centuries, betrothed couples would actually walk to church on the day of their wedding as part of the day's proceedings. Of course in that time the chances were that the couple lived in close proximity to both their church and their intended. Today's couple has a much different set of circumstances. Churches are not the only game in town when it comes to wedding ceremonies, and often wherever the couple ultimately gets married may be many miles from where they live. Consequently, the rules about wedding cars are a fairly new phenomenon and are more rules of thumb than rules of convention.
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Wedding transportation is ultimately a utilitarian concern. Church is too far away to walk to, so you need to catch a ride. Driving in a wedding dress is more difficult than you may imagine, and most brides are in no condition to drive themselves to their ceremony. It has become customary for not only the bride, but the whole bridal party to catch a ride to church in the limo, so that the bride and bridesmaids may arrive on time, and the groomsmen may presumably keep the groom from getting lost on the way to church. With more and more weddings taking place out of town and even more guests travelling impressive distances to attend, it is becoming more and more conventional to provide some sort of shuttle transportation for guests as well. This allows out-of-towners to get where they need to be and your revellers to make it back home from your reception without running afoul of the law for sharing one too many toasts.
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For a fairly recent addition to wedding customs, there are a surprising number of choices available to convey the modern bride and her attendants to church. Although the majority of brides are opting for long, fancy limousines, there are some who choose more fanciful means of transportation, such as horse-drawn carriages and antique cars. Some couples who have particularly large wedding parties may even use a small shuttle bus to get them safely to and from the celebration. Each types has its pros and cons, but from an etiquette standpoint, no one is superior to any other.
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Antique cars are beautiful to look at and certainly more original than a long stretch limo but may not comfortably accommodate the bride and her dress if it is particularly voluminous, let alone any attendants or her new husband at the end of the ceremony. Horse-drawn carriages are supremely romantic but can be devastating to a bride's hair even in the most ideal weather conditions. Additionally, a horse-drawn carriage can be significantly more aromatic than other modes of transportation and not necessarily in a positive fashion. A shuttle bus will allow maximum capacity, will generally accommodate even the most over-the-top wedding dresses and can be re-purposed for conveying guests back and forth but offers none of the charm or elegance of the other options.
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The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the odds are that you will need to select transportation to get you to and from your ceremony and reception sites unless you are getting married in your home. If you have a large wedding party, modern convention is to provide them transportation as well. Generally speaking, you will need one limo for the bridal party and another for the groom and his attendants, as most brides wish to not be seen by their future husband prior to their walk down the aisle. Parents and other relatives are typically expected to provide their own transportation. It is proper to provide some means of transportation to and from your nuptials for guests that have travelled long distances to witness your big day, however it is not a requirement.