Operations

Doing A Destination Wedding With Family

Posted on April 15, 2015 by - Also by this author

My cousin Jamie and her fiancée, Richard Sterling, are marrying in New York City on May 2, limo-style. 
My cousin Jamie and her fiancée, Richard Sterling, are marrying in New York City on May 2, limo-style. 

Destination weddings are becoming more popular as brides fulfill fantasies of betrothal in faraway, exotic locales.

That means gone are the days of a local church and reception with the bride and groom being picked up in a simple stretch amid a flurry of thrown rice, toilet paper and streamers.

A destination wedding means everyone will need transportation, to and from airports and among the various wedding venues. While guests can be told to figure out ground transportation themselves, many brides want to simplify logistics to maximize attendance — and of course, wedding gifts.

After all, if the guests are all springing for airfare and hotel rooms, shouldn’t the ground transportation at least be complimentary or readily available through a reputable chauffeured transportation company?

My cousin, Dr. Jamie Jolly (yes, that’s her real name), is getting married in New York City on May 2. Jamie, a Charlotte, N.C., resident, called me for help in arranging her transportation. I and other family members and guests will need transportation as well, just like the bride and groom. I found myself on the other end of the business and will share our experience with you both before and after. This is the first part of my two-part feature.

Where To Begin?

When Jamie called me (I’m not referring to her as Jolly, as it makes me chuckle) and asked for limousine recommendations in Manhattan, I did not have a ready answer. The transportation options in New York City are probably greater than any other city in the U.S. The folks at Central Park (the wedding venue) were great at referring photographers and florists, but really didn’t have any recommendations for transportation, so Jamie called me. My company in Bakersfield, Calif., belongs to numerous networks such as BostonCoach, Music Express, EmpireCLS and others, but I didn’t consider them to be limousine networks as much as sedan and SUV networks. I knew Jamie was looking for a limousine for her wedding.

The first guy I referred her to was someone I thought would be the best bet for limo service. Unfortunately, we all traded emails and he promised to call Jamie back but never did. Once that happened, I decided it would be best to refer her to a major affiliate network and let them farm-out the limo ride if needed since they know the area operators well.

A Bride Who Knows The Business

Jamie is the director of field medical affairs for Daiichi Sankyo Pharmaceutical, Japan’s second largest pharma company. Her job takes her all over the U.S. and other countries, and these business trips include the use of chauffeured transportation. She is no stranger to chauffeured expectations. Additionally, she has attended an International LCT Show with me to learn more about our business and meet various operators.

I have been in the business for more than 20 years, so Jamie has ridden in plenty of limousines with me and we‘ve had our share of great chauffeurs and so-so chauffeurs in multiple cities. With this in mind, I wanted her to make all the final decisions and talk to operators directly about her needs. “I’m not leaving the bridal party’s transportation up to chance,” Jamie told me. “I’m sure I could take a taxi to and from the airport but I’m going to have a lot of stuff: A wedding dress, two tuxedos and gifts for our guests. Who wants to try and put that in a nasty taxi?”

Jamie’s Needs

Jamie put together a list of what she needed and provided it to the network affiliate manager in New York. Service would consist of picking up Jamie, her son and the groom from the airport, and transporting them to the hotel on Wednesday. Several other family members would need the same service on Wednesday and Thursday, and of course, everyone would need to be returned to the airport. She also wanted a limousine for about eight hours to transport the bridal party to hair/makeup appointments, to the wedding and reception.

Another possible option being considered is shuttle bus service for guests between the hotel and wedding venues. The network was able to provide all the vehicles Jamie needed. They also created a method for family and friends to place reservations with a unique group ID to receive a group rate.

I will report in an upcoming issue how all the transportation played out, and the lessons I picked up for operators like me who are handling more and more wedding events.

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