The getaway vehicle is one of the most important decisions you’ll make at your wedding. Just kidding; it has very little importance in the grand scheme of things. But I still thought it would be nice to leave our wedding in a special, unique way.
Lucky for me, I drive a Vespa. I figured the Vespa would be perfect because it’s pretty iconic, it’s personal, it’s free (to me), and it would look great in photos. Russell was not as sold on the idea. Apparently, he didn’t want to wreck a scooter in front of all our family and friends. Fair enough. (We solved this by practicing beforehand.)
Riding away from the wedding on the Vespa ended up being one of our favorite parts of the whole day — the weather was perfect, and streets of downtown Birmingham were almost deserted on that Sunday night. It really was just a beautiful night for a scooter ride, and the fact that we felt fancy and everyone who saw us honked in congratulations at our Just Married sign didn’t hurt.
I will never again take a scooter ride away from my wedding. But you might, so here are some tips:
Practice, especially if you don’t already know how to ride a scooter
Riding a scooter isn’t particularly difficult; it’s a lot easier than riding a motorcycle. It only takes most people a few blocks to get the hang of driving a Vespa — but when you’re leaving your wedding, you won’t have a few blocks. If you’re not into having everyone you know watch your wobbles and false starts, practice first. My Vespa is my primary vehicle, and Russell takes it every so often, so we’re both used to driving a scooter and this wasn’t too much of an issue. We still practiced, though, because he doesn’t usually drive with a passenger, and I don’t usually ride “sidesaddle.”
Can you ride a Vespa in your dress?
You’re probably fine to ride in your dress, but do make sure you’ll be able to gather up the fabric enough to clear the wheels. Also, think about how you’ll be “mounting” the Vespa. Normally, I step through the front when I’m driving, and as a passenger, I let the driver get on first, then I sort of throw my leg over the back and do a little hop to get on. As you might imagine, neither is going to look super flattering in a formal dress (a big thank you to my wedding coordinator for pointing that out). My dress was basically a sheath, so straddling a scooter in it wouldn’t have looked very elegant. I decided to ride sidesaddle, which ended up working great. (It was a little terrifying during our practice session, but on the night of the wedding, it felt stable and worked perfectly.)
How much are you going to drink?
I hope it’s a personal policy to never drive drunk. And it’s probably not a great idea to get drunk at your wedding anyway (among other reasons, your photos will not look cute if you’re trashed). But you might want to get a little buzz, or your nerves and excitement might mean that you process alcohol differently. Keep this in mind when choosing whether to leave on a Vespa — it might be easier to just have someone drive you in a car so you don’t have to worry. You don’t want to start your marriage with an accident — or a DUI.
Do you have a motorcycle license?
A motorcycle license is normally required to drive a Vespa. I’ve never heard of anyone who wasn’t let off with just a warning if they only had a regular driver’s license, though, and I doubt a police officer’s going to issue you a ticket if you’re driving around in a tux and wedding gown. But if you’re really paranoid about rule following (like I am), you’ll want to check the laws where you live.
Will you wear helmets?
We didn’t decide to ride without helmets until we were actually leaving the wedding. I didn’t want to have to wear helmets in the wedding photos. It was also time consuming to get my hair down, and you can’t get a helmet over an updo. On the other hand, it’s extra dangerous to ride without a helmet, and it also happens to be against the law in Alabama.
Ultimately, we ditched the helmets: We were only driving a few blocks, downtown Birmingham is not a challenging place to ride, and the roads were likely going to be pretty deserted on the Sunday night of our wedding. I’m glad we did, mostly because we could talk to each other easily on the ride to our hotel instead of shouting through our helmets. I figured, if we got pulled over (which we didn’t), we could always frame the ticket as a wedding memento or something.
Who will drive your Vespa to the venue? Who’ll drive it home the next day?
I drove to our venue because I knew the venue owner and he let me park it inside their warehouse overnight. My family moved it out front when it was time. After the wedding, Russell and I drove to our hotel and left the Vespa outside on the sidewalk; my sister and our friend Patrick drove over after the wedding to pick up the scooter and get it back to our apartment so we could leave for the airport in the morning without worrying about it. If you’re not heading straight to your honeymoon, this isn’t a big problem. If you are, just make sure the person driving the Vespa away has an extra key, a helmet, and enough experience that you trust their driving. (In addition to being a close friend, Patrick is my Vespa mechanic, so I didn’t have to worry.)
Will you make a Just Married sign?
I asked my Dad to make our sign, and I loved it because it’s in the same block letters he always used to draw in our cards when I was growing up. Our sign is on painted plywood with two holes drilled into it; some light wood is best because a posterboard sign will flop around in the wind, meaning it will not be readable and it will be annoying to drive with. My mom glued felt to the back of our sign so it wouldn’t mess up the Vespa’s paint. You can hang your sign on the front or the back, but if it’s in back, be sure you’re tag isn’t covered up. If it’s in the front, make sure it’s big enough to be read, but not so big that it acts as a “sail” and messes up your driving. Just don’t make it any wider than the front on the Vespa and you’ll be okay.
Will you drive the Vespa all the way to your hotel, or just around the block?
If you’re set on the idea of wedding photos that involve a Vespa but I’ve managed to scare you with all my dire warnings about laws and safety, you always have the option of driving just a couple of blocks or around the corner and having someone meet you with a car to drive you to your final destination. We weren’t going far, and I’m pretty sure my new husband would’ve seen using a special vehicle for photos and swapping it out afterward as the height of silliness, so that’s not an option I really considered.
Know the everyone will be terrified for you
The pictures of our sendoff are pretty funny because everyone clearly thought we were going to wreck the Vespa and were super worried for us. I’m not sure where this terror came from, since Russell and I both drive the scooter on a regular basis, so I assume this will be even worse if you’re not regular Vespa drivers. In our case, I mostly just thought it was funny. And I love this photo, that captures the relief and triumph of my dad, sister, our officiant and a few of our closest friends who are all particularly excited that we got away safely.
Carrie Rollwagen married Russell Marbut in September of 2018. She’s the author of The Localist, a book about buying independent, and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she’s Communications Director at Infomedia, a Birmingham-based web development company. Find her on social media as @crollwagen: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Russell is a web developer and jiu jitsu instructor who isn’t much into wedding blogs or website bios. He’s on Instagram as @russellg9.