If you decide to do on-site parking, you need to plan exactly where your guests will park their cars. If you have 150 guests, and no shuttle buses, you can expect that about 75 cars will need to be parked, which is no small number.
You might have the option to direct cars to park in a large field on your property; just make sure that it is well lit at the end of the night. In this scenario, you also need to have a backup plan in case this area becomes particularly wet or muddy.
If you don’t have use of a large lot or field (or friendly neighbors who can offer up their driveways), you will have to rely on street parking. Again, please make sure that your neighborhood streets are well lit at night. Ideally, there will always be sidewalks for your guests to use.
If on-site parking has any chance of being confusing or tricky for your guests, you might consider offering valet service. Who doesn’t like a complimentary valet? A reputable valet service will come out to the home to do a survey before the wedding, and let you know if there are any concerns about where all the cars will go. Remember to schedule them to arrive thirty minutes before your event begins and to stay at least thirty minutes past the official end time of your event to give your guests time to file out.
Sometimes it is possible to direct your guests to self-park at a nearby location and ask them to walk a few blocks to the residence. Church and public school parking lots work well for this plan, provided that there are navigable sidewalks in between. Always check with the church or school first, to ensure that your plan is OK with them. Please do a test walk from the home to the parking lot in the dark to affirm that it is safe and well lit. Alternatively you might decide to use an off-site lot that is not walkable to the home and hire a mini-bus (or two) to shuttle guests back and forth.
Finally, don’t forget that all of your staff will be driving to the wedding well, and must be considered in the parking plan. That may include photographers, your wedding planner and assistant, dozens of catering staff, your ten-piece band, the tent staff, plus delivery crews.
Photo courtesy of Katie Stoops.