Booking Transportation for Your Wedding? Here's How Much It Costs
You may know what you're wearing, what you're eating and who's reading what at your ceremony—but none of that matters if you have no way of getting yourselves (and your wedding party) there. Wedding transportation—whether you ride in a limousine or rent a souped-up retro school bus—is an underratedly crucial detail of your wedding day. Translation: Don't forget to add it to your wedding planning checklist and work it into your budget. To help you out, here's the average cost for wedding transportation, plus more handy transportation tips you should know—including a few ways to save!
The Average Cost of Wedding Transportation
According to a recent survey of over 27,000 people who got married in 2019, the average amount couples in the US spend on wedding transportation is $800. But remember, this is an average, which means you could pay more or less depending on your wedding location, among other factors. In fact, here's the average cost breakdown by region for your reference:
- Northeast/New England: $1,082
- Mid-Atlantic: $1,082
- Midwest: $698
- South/Southeast: $702
- Southwest: $555
- West: $661
Other interesting data points? Those who reported having a destination wedding spent (on average) $936, which is higher than the broader average cost of wedding transportation. This makes sense, considering a far-flung location may require hiring extra transportation for guests who fly in. But if you break the numbers out by type of destination wedding, those who celebrated domestically paid more (an average of $978) than those who celebrated internationally (an average of $750). As for local "hometown" weddings? The price of transportation averaged $761.
What's Included in Wedding Transportation Costs
You're likely to be charged by the hour for a car service, depending on the type of vehicle and number of passengers. That price could range from $50 to $150 per hour for a town car or wedding limo, or higher ($200 to $300) for something fancier or larger, like a party bus to shuttle guests. That said, we can't emphasize enough that there's no true "standard" cost.
A 15% to 20% tip is typically expected too and might even be included in your contract (sales tax may also be charged). If it's not included, a $20 tip for each driver normally covers your bases. You may be required to contract the cars for a minimum amount of time, say, three hours—but don't be surprised if you end up booking them for the whole day. The parking service bill should also reflect a 15% to 20% gratuity charge. In this case, make sure guests know there's no need to tip.
Ways to Save on Day-Of Transportation
As with a wedding cake or wedding dress, the easiest way to cut costs is to keep things simple. Stick with your standard six-person town car instead of a stretch limo—the former is actually a limo, just not as long. Leave out the TV, full bar and sunroof. Stash some champagne of your own in the car so you can toast each other on the way to the reception. (The limo company may be able to include complimentary bubbles if they know you're a wedding party—ask about this.) Another option is to have your wedding party carpool—if someone doesn't mind driving, that is. But unless you have a sober designated driver in the group, it's smart to book a car service for at least their rides home from the reception.
Wedding Parking Costs, Tips and Tricks
Having your reception at a hotel, restaurant, banquet hall or special events facility? The site manager may be taking care of parking arrangements and staff. If not (or if you prefer to hire an independent service), here are some guidelines: Valets are attendants that physically park cars for guests upon arrival, retrieve them when guests leave, and staff the parking area for the duration of the event. Non-valet attendants direct traffic, hold signs, point you toward available spaces and staff the area. This often costs $20 to $25 per attendant, but again, it really depends. Figure five valets (or three or four non-valets) per 100 guests.
And one more tip: The manager should check out the location to determine the number of attendants needed—before quoting a price. Keep in mind that factors like meager to non-existent parking facilities, massive guest lists and complicated locations will require more manpower and add to the cost.
Factor Guest Transportation Into Your Budget
Whether or not you provide transportation for all your guests will depend on your budget, venue locations and how many out-of-towners are attending. But at the very least, it's a nice gesture to have rides arranged for the wedding party and VIPs, like both sets of parents and grandparents.
Other factors to consider include the weather (ugh, we know). Picture 150 people competing for cabs during an impromtu postceremony thunderstorm. Look into hiring a bus or a couple of minivans if you think this could happen. Consider too the distance between ceremony and reception—you may want to cover longer rides.
Before you spend on guest transportation, see if your venue offers complimentary services. In fact, it's worth asking when you tour locations (if you haven't already). To avoid the cost of a wedding shuttle, you can also try to make a deal with the hotel you've booked room blocks at—it may be able to provide free transportation.
Even if you don't book transportation for your guests, there are ways to help them book their own. Provide rideshare information, the phone numbers of reputable cab companies, or see if you can negotiate special rates for attendees. Did you know that through The Knot, your guests can score up to 25% off a Budget rental car?
Be Wary of Paying for Waiting Time
Arrange for pick-up and drop-off service only, so that drivers aren't waiting around (and getting paid—remember, you're being charged by the hour) for the duration of the ceremony and reception. If there'll be no cars waiting, make sure you as the couple (at the very least) are guaranteed a ride home back to your hotel, home or the airport when the party's are over. This is something an honor attendant often oversees, but feel free to book your own ride home if it makes you feel better.
Book as Early as Possible...
...Especially if your wedding falls during peak times (think: prom time or graduation season in March to late June). To be safe, you may want to book with a rental company five or six months before your wedding date. The more competitive the market, the more you could pay.
Prepare (and Share) the Right Information
Prep a call sheet with names and all pickup/drop-off addresses and times, so you can call to confirm these arrangements with the car company the day before or morning of the wedding. The drivers should have this information well in advance—as well as detailed directions to the ceremony and reception sites—because it could factor into the price. And the more seamless the process, the less likely you'll incur unexpected costs like wait time fees. Of course, you should carefully review your contract to be aware of these things in advance.
Choose the Perfect Ride for You
Feeling fancy or nontraditional? Think beyond limos and cars—we know couples who've gone by way of horse and buggy, a vintage Rolls Royce, trolley, school bus, motorcycle and side-car, roller skates, skateboards, ski lift, canoe and tractor. While some of these options can be pricier than the standard car service, many creative alternatives may just save you some money.
Ready to roll? Book wedding transportation near you on The Knot Marketplace.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.
Updated April 2020