Here's a conversation I had recently:
Octopus: "Bridesmaid/Cousin Katie, can you do me a huuuuuge wedding-related favor? Would you mind checking around with a few different transportation companies to get price quotes on how much it would cost to rent a mini-bus or trolley to pick us girls up before the ceremony, then take the whole bridal party to the reception after the ceremony and portraits are over? We'll need to get picked up for the ceremony around 3:30, and then it will need to take us to the reception around 6:30, so a total of about three hours."
BM/C Katie: "Sure, no problem!"
One Week Later
BM/C Katie: "So, I got those quotes for you. The cheapest I could find was $750, and the highest was around $1,000."
Octopus: "HA HA HA HA HA! Katie, you are so funny. No seriously, what are the REAL rates for three hours' worth of mini-bus access?"
ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? Maybe my expectations were way too low on this, but I wanted to theatrically spit out a mouthful of water when I heard that quote. Seven hundred and fifty dollars? For a fifteen-minute drive to Heinz Chapel, a two-and-a-half-hour wait, and a fifteen-minute drive to the reception? I have accepted the fact that many, many things in wedding planning cost more than I expected (or, sometimes, more than I believe to be reasonable or fair), but that one shocked me. No way I could justify spending $750 on something from which we'd get thirty minutes of active use.
So, I re-configured the plan, thinking that maybe we could swing a one-way group transportation option. Mom Octopus and I figured that between parents and other various relatives, we could manage to get everyone carpooled over to Heinz Chapel (the entire female contingent of the bridal party alone can roll up packed into Mom Octopus's slammin' Dodge Caravan!), then opt for group transport over to the reception.
Every bride's dream, no? (Source.)
I contacted a transport company again, this time specifying that we were looking to rent a mini-bus or trolley for fifteen minutes. Pick us up at Heinz Chapel and drop us off at the Children's Museum, that's it. They're five miles apart. Quote: $415. Now, I'm not exactly sure if $750 for three hours is over-the-top expensive, but I am absolutely certain that $415 for fifteen minutes' worth of transportation is really and truly highway robbery.
So what do we do now? We could use the same carpooling strategy back to the reception, but that would require that my mom and the other drivers hang around during bridal party portraits, missing the cocktail hour. We could cab it, a la Mrs. Star, although Mr. Octo's face fell very heartbreakingly at the thought of not enjoying the festive, celebratory, champagne-popping group bus ride that he'd anticipated after the ceremony. We could rent one of those fifteen-passenger vans for the day, although we'd be utterly stuffed in there, and I still don't know who'd drive it.....
Can you think of a better solution? Pittsburgh brides, did you find any better rates than Bridesmaid Katie and I did (and if so, PLEASE tell me about it!!!)?
Side note: after the wedding is over, I am launching my own rental company that deals exclusively in upgraded linens, chivari chairs, and mini-buses, and I am going to live out the rest of my days as the new incarnation of Pittsburgh's robber barons of yore, Andrew Carnegie-style.