Understanding Ground Transfers for Destination Weddings

Professional Ground Transfers

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In the wedding travel industry we tend to take our terminology for granted and assume that since we know what something means that our couples know what it means. I’m sure the same can be said for most business industries. We all have abbreviations, sayings, and varying terms of reference that make total sense to us but not to anyone around us. I’ve found this is definitely the case in the wedding travel world with the term “transfer” so I’m going to explain what a transfer is, how they work, and what the differences are of each type, so you’ll know what to expect  for you and your guests, when you see or hear that word used.  


What is a “Transfer”?

A transfer basically refers to your ground transportation to and from a location.

In other words, it’s the car, taxi, van, shuttle, bus, etc that picks you up at any one location and takes you to another.

You’ll normally hear this from your wedding travel planner when they tell you that your wedding room block rate either includes (or does not include) transfers. Those transfers they’re referring to means that someone is (or is not) going to pick up you and your guests from the airport once you reach your intended destination, take you to your hotel or resort, and then return you to the airport to catch your flight home at the end of your wedding.

How do transfers work in general?

A transfer can be set up by your wedding travel planner, your hotel or resort, or yourself. Oftentimes when you contract a wedding room block at an all-inclusive resort your transfer will be included but you need to make sure it states this on the contract. If not, you can have your wedding travel planner book this and set it up for you or will be responsible for doing so.


What kind of vehicle will my guests be picked up in?

Unless it specifically states what vehicle type you’ll be picked up in, it could be anything – a regular sized car, a minivan, a small passenger shuttle van, etc. A lot of this depends on what type of fleet your transportation company has, what country you’re traveling in, and how many people are in your group at pick up.

If you want to be picked up in a specific vehicle type you will need to order this specific vehicle type. You can request certain vehicle types but there is typically an additional fee associated with each type. For example, If you’d prefer to have all of your guests picked up by travel by Lincoln Navigator with leather seats, and one is available in your destination, you can request this (there will be an additional fee, of course) and one can be arranged for you.



You can also make a request for large passenger vehicles like buses, if you’re arriving with a large group of your wedding guests. This is also an excellent option for transporting your guests around town for group excursions and activities.


What’s the difference between shared transfers, private transfers, luxury transfers, and more?

Transfers have different names and each one means something very different. Here are some examples of typical transfer types and what they mean –


  • Transfer – This could mean any vehicle type picking up a guest at a location and taking them to their destination. A typical transfer could have more than 1 guest picked up at a time. For example, your wedding room block includes “transfers”. The shuttle driver arrives at the airport, picks up you, your fiance, and your luggage from one area of the airport, drives to the other end of the airport and picks up 3 more guests and their luggage, leaves the airport and stops at the destination of each guest until all guests have been delivered to their destination. You may be lucky enough to be the closest and first person on the delivery schedule or unlucky enough to be the furthest and last person on the delivery schedule. You could be on the shuttle for 30 minutes or 1 hour and 30 minutes. You never know but you will eventually get to your location.


  • Non-Stop Transfer – This is also sometimes referred to as direct transfers. A non-stop transfer means that once your shuttle driver picks you up from your arrival point you will go straight to your destination without stopping. Your shuttle driver may be carrying other passengers from your same pick up point. For example, the driver may pick up you, your fiance, and 2 other guests from the airport but all passengers will be going to the same location for drop off. This transfer type will get you to your destination a lot faster than a basic transfer, but you will likely be sharing the ride with others.


  • Private Transfer – You and your fiance (and whatever travel companion(s) you choose) will be picked up by your shuttle driver and taken directly to your destination. A private transfer has the benefit of not having to share your shuttle with anyone else. This means your driver does not have to pick up any other passengers and doesn’t have to stop anywhere else on the way. You can enjoy this shuttle all alone or with the traveling companions you arrived with. This is the way we normally suggest traveling since you can get to our destination as quickly as possible without having to lose any time. One other added perk of the private transfer is that you can often ask your driver to stop on the way (if they’re not on a super tight schedule). We’ve stopped at Starbuck’s, OXXO, and even Wal-Mart on past vacations! If you do this, please be considerate of your shuttle driver’s time and remember to tip well!


  • Luxury Transfer – A luxury transfer can vary by location and the fleet of the transportation company but can be anything from a stretch limo to that leather seated Lincoln Navigator we mentioned earlier. It basically means that you have the transportation all to yourselves and you will arrive at your destination in style. This is the perfect option for special trips like weddings, honeymoons bachelor and bachelorette parties, and to transport VIP’s, like your parents and the wedding party.


What if myself or someone in my traveling party is in a wheelchair? How will we be picked up?

If you or someone if your party is traveling by wheelchair it’s imperative that you inform your travel planner or transportation company since most transportation options do not automatically come with the equipment needed for wheelchairs. You will need to request a vehicle that is equipped to transport wheelchair passengers. This needs to be booked in advance, if possible, and will typically be an additional charge.

Something else to consider – if you or your guests will be traveling with a large amount of luggage, boxes of wedding decor, golf bags, or baby strollers, you should prepare for this in advance by requesting a larger shuttle or van since most smaller vehicles may not be able to accommodate all of these large pieces. In fact, most basic transfer options only allow up to 2 pieces of luggage per guest.


How much do transfers cost?

If included, basic transfers are what you will typically see included in a room block contract. If not included, this is typically your lowest cost option for transfers and can range in price based on your destination and how far you are from your initial pick up point.

After that you will see a step up in price that normally goes in this order – direct transfer, private transfer, luxury transfer and/or wheelchair transfer, then multi guest transfer options. This does not mean it will always follow this scale of pricing, but this will give you a good idea of the cost progression of each transfer type.