Ride on time: navigating wedding transport for your guests

You’ve invited your nearest and dearest – but are you expected to lay on buses so they show up on time and in one piece?

Can you imagine your wedding without your family and best mates there to join in the fun? It could happen – because the sat nav led them to the wrong church in the wrong village, or because they couldn’t pay the whopping taxi fare for whisking them out to the remote stately home that’s hosting your celebrations.

Take the pressure off your loved ones by letting them pile onto a stylish bus. You could arrange to get them to the ceremony on time, ferry them to the reception afterwards and even drop them off at their front door at the end of the night – and, believe me, they’ll be immensely grateful. We delved into the wonderful world of wedding guest transport to uncover how it works, why it works, and what happens if the best man overdoes it and, erm, ‘loses’ his dinner on the back seat.

If your needs are more complex than strolling along to your reception after the I do’s, experienced suppliers will be happy to oblige. “Client requirements vary from the simple collection at the ceremony and drop-off at the reception venue, all the way through to multiple pick-ups to the ceremony then on to the reception,” says Edward Reid of Doig’s of Glasgow.

You might think that booking your bus as soon as the ring is on your finger is the best idea, but you could be getting ahead of yourself and messing up your budget in the long run. “We understand that clients may not know their exact requirements yet if their wedding is still far off,” says Edward. The best idea is to take your time, get your numbers down on paper first and work out the logistics of the journeys.

This, in theory, would ideally be sorted out six months before the big day. According to Sam Phipps of Edinburgh’s The Red Bus, this is ample time for your booking. “For Saturday weddings between April and October we would recommend booking at least six months in advance because our calendar fills up pretty quickly,” he says. Already missed that deadline? Fear not: there’s always a solution. “We often get enquires at much shorter notice,” says Sam, “and we sometimes still have slots free.”

And if it’s really down to the wire? “You can book your transport right up to a week before the wedding – but that would obviously be very stressful!” admits Andy McDade of Glasgow-based transport provider McDade’s Coaches. His advice, like Sam’s, is to book six months ahead of time. “That way, we can give you an accurate quote that won’t be affected by fluctuating diesel prices.”

The last thing you’ll want to think about as you sign on the dotted line and finalise the booking of your guest transport is what would happen if the bus breaks down on your day. But these things happen. How will your transport supplier get over such a bump in the road? “If a breakdown were to happen, it would be all hands on deck for us,” states Andy. “Once the issue has been identified, we’d send out a replacement bus straight away.”

The same goes for The Red Bus. “Our vehicles are serviced every ten weeks, meaning breakdowns are an absolute rarity for us. We’d either send another of our buses to the rescue or our conductor would arrange taxis and cover the cost.” The more experienced the company, the more likely it is to cope, as Edward says: “Always use a firm that’s large enough to have back-up vehicles and drivers in case of the unexpected.”

We joked previously about the best man having a touch of, ahem, travel sickness. But, really, what happens to your bill if someone has overindulged at the reception? “We don’t charge for cleaning the bus after a wedding even if someone has been sick on the way home,” says Andy.

He also points out that you’ll never be thrown off the bus if you do spill your cookies – “Though your fellow passengers might not be so forgiving!” After any wedding, a bus will show some evidence of a great night, but it’s unlikely you’ll face a cleaning bill. “Our buses do occasionally come back in some state, covered in confetti and clanking with empty bottles,”says Andy. “But we clean them thoroughly inside and out, ready for the next trip.”

When it comes to the journey home, where can your guests hop off? “We like to pin down exact drop-off points, but they’re not set in stone,” says Andy. “Drivers can let people off if the bus happens to pass their house.” It’s the same for Edward: “If we’re passing your front door on a main road, it would normally be okay to stop. But we wouldn’t attempt to take a 53-seater coach down a little side street at two in the morning!”