When a young girl is imagining her wedding, she might dream about the whimsical carriage that will bring her to her betrothed.

A magic carriage seems a little Cinderella, but transportation is a key issue for a variety of reasons. First, all couples want their day to run smoothly and getting everyone where they need to be, at the right time, is vital to that. Second, there are so many options available today, especially in New Orleans, that the mode of transport you choose for you and your guests can reflect the style of your wedding and add an element of fun. Lastly, the vehicle you choose will take you and your escort to the ceremony location for the last time as a single woman. It will also be the first ride you take with your husband and it will set the scene for many of the photo opportunities.   

There’s no denying that your set of wheels will be embedded in your memories, but there are a few steps you need to go through to find the right transportation for your day.

Hire a Pro
Unless your wedding is very small, it’s worth employing a professional to get you to the church on time. Chris Bonomolo of Bonomolo Limousines says transportation companies can keep track of all the logistics for you. “We plot the route, group people together and make sure there is one point person for each group,” he says. “We have a call sheet with names, times and destinations all pre-planned.”

Bonomolo says he also checks the small details. For example, for receptions in the French Quarter, Bonomolo says his drivers need to allow about 30 minutes extra time on a busy night. “On the day, we monitor any traffic problems or events going on,” Bonomolo says. “There are lots of variables to consider with transport. You want to leave that headache to someone else.”

Match Your Style
Whatever your style is, whatever tone you set for your wedding, you can find the transport to match it in New Orleans. You can have a horse and carriage, a Vespa or two even a boat. You can also rent out party buses, decked out stretch limos or parade floats. The options seem endless.

“Many of our couples want to treat their guests to a little New Orleans flavor and hire our streetcar which looks just like a Canal Street streetcar inside and out,” Bonomolo says. “On the other hand, more of our couples are choosing black cars instead of white to create more of a red carpet, formal vibe.”

Trent Levine of Executive Limousine of Louisiana, says some couples prefer a vintage car, for which he has a particularly special one. “For those looking for a vintage feel, we have a 1956 Silver Cloud 1 white Rolls Royce that we purchased from the Queen of England’s car collection,” he says.

Book Early
Whichever mode of moving you choose, it’s important to book early as New Orleans is a popular place for conventions and sporting events, all things that require transportation. “Limos in New Orleans do not rely on wedding business so they get booked up, particularly if you are looking for something a little different,” Bonomolo says. “The time of year also affects the cost, during a busy period like Jazz Fest, prices will be higher.”

And don’t forget to think beyond the wedding day itself. Will you need a car for the rehearsal dinner? Who is picking up out-of-town guests from the airport? Make sure you consider all the times you’ll need extra vehicles.

Budget Wisely
When you’re ready to book your transportation, ask about packages. Many companies offer the typical two-hour bridal package, says Joe Sagona of Celebrity Limos. “We have been doing this for 30 years and generally speaking the two-hour rental works for most couples,” Sagona says. “For just over $1,000, you can have a Rolls Royce and two super stretch limos.This includes the tax and tip, which is a mandatory 20 percent.”

However, if you are having a longer Catholic service, or your venues are far away or far apart, it might be worth buying a three- or four-hour package. You also need to make sure that if you go over your time, the driver will stay on. Most charge extra time by the hour and many drivers will need to be paid in cash on the day.

When scheduling the transportation with your preferred company, clarify the times when everyone will be picked up. “Catholic churches often contract that the bride is on time,” Sagona says. “Our drivers always communicate with each other to ensure the groom arrives first and the bride is just five minutes late.”

When finalizing your transportation plans, check about extra charges. All couples should ask if there are any extra charges like fuel and parking, as well as the gratuity policy. Also, read the contract thoroughly, especially to see what happens in the event of a late or no show, a cancellation or a breakdown. Check your liability for any spills or damage to the car. Another thing to verify is that the cars are insured and licensed for the city.

Make a Ride List  
As you inch closer to the wedding day, decide who is going in which vehicle. “These days it’s up to the couple to decide who rides in a car,” Sagona says.
“However, it’s customary to drive the groom and groomsmen first, then the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride and finally the bride. The groom’s parents usually go in one of the cars and most brides have their photographers ride with them.”

And don’t forget about your friends from out-of-town, especially if you have a faraway wedding. “If our couples have out of town guests who are unfamiliar with locations, [the couples] often provide a mini bus to make it easy for them to get to the ceremony and reception and back to their hotels,” Levine says. This is especially important if your wedding is farther away, such as a plantation that is outside of New Orleans.

Remember it’s thoughtful to provide transportation for guests so they don’t have to worry about driving, and you can make sure everyone arrives on time. “Many couples use our streetcar to shuttle people back and forth from the reception,” Bonomolo says. “Some guests will want to leave earlier, like those with children, so they keep the shuttle at their guests’ disposal.”

Special Touches
Just like you look at a new car before you buy it, go see your wedding vehicle before you reserve it. “Couples often don’t think of it, but it’s important to go and see the car ahead of time,” Levine says. “You can check out the condition of the vehicle but you can also make sure it looks just as you imagined and you should ask what the driver will be wearing as well.”

When you’re looking at the vehicle, think about how you are going to get in and out of it. “The groom might be attracted to a muscular stretch truck like a Hummer or an Escalade,” Levine adds, “but brides wear very delicate dresses which can rip easily on a running board.”

When you’re making the final plans for your transportation, it’s OK to be a diva. If you want alcohol in the car, or a special playlist, tell your limo company in advance. Don’t be afraid to ask about small details. Are you allowed to decorate the buses? Ask your company before the wedding festivities so there are no surprises on the wedding day.

Capacity Guide at a Glance
Mini Bus……………………………….17 – 29
Luxury Limo Bus……………………28
Hummer / Super Stretch Limo…16
Mercedes Sprinter Van……………1 – 11
Stretch Limo………………………….8 – 10
SUV………………………………………6 – 7