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cookieman's avatar

An etiquette question. Should we pay for our guests' parking?

Asked by cookieman (38862points) September 12th, 2010

My wife and I are planning an event for next Spring. We’ve tentatively chosen a restaurant in the city with no free parking. There is a paid garage and metered parking nearby however.

Should we pay for our guests parking fees? Is that common etiquette or are they on their own?

Would having to pay for parking effect your decision to attend?

(There is public transportation nearby, but 99% of our family & friends would never take a train or bus)

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22 Answers

janbb's avatar

What kind of event? For me, that makes a difference. If it is a wedding, I would think you should pay because there are so many costs incurred by the guests attending. For a birthday or anniversary dinner, I would probably just include the transportation options and parking information on a separate sheet of the invitation and let them pick up the cost of getting there.

Lightlyseared's avatar

No. They can sort it out themselves.

harple's avatar

This question really surprises me, but I live in England, so I guess it may be one of the differences of our two countries… It wouldn’t even be a consideration here – people choose how they get to events and pay the price that involves, whether that’s public transport or parking or fuel etc.

It’s lovely that you’re so considerate, but as you say, 99% of your family & friends would never take a train or bus, so it’s their decision to drive, and they have to take what comes with that (in this case, parking costs). You may choose to let them know, so that they don’t find out on arrival and have a bad taste in their mouth. Otherwise, I really don’t see it as something that should be of concern to you when you are organising a lovely event and inviting them to it.

jaytkay's avatar

I’ve never been to an event where it’s been done. But since you mention it, if you can afford it, I think it would be a nice touch.

Whether you pay or the guests, maybe the garage would give you a volume discount. It’s worth a couple of phone calls to find out.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Assuming you are paying for the meal at the restaurant, I would say they are on their own. we have a saying here in spain, it’s “te doy la mano y me coges el brazo”, meaning “I give you my hand and you take my arm”. I think that applies in this situation, a parking fee is not worth thinking about when it comes to a free meal.

muppetish's avatar

I would give the guests a heads-up that the parking at the restaurant is not free, but I would not offer to pay for them. You’re already doing your part to be a gracious host. It’s not in your hands how your guests choose to transport themselves to the event.

A heads-up, however, gives them ample time to decide whether they want to carpool and save money, choose to park further away from the event and walk, or simply have extra cash on hand to pay the fee.

chyna's avatar

No, I wouldn’t. It’s part of coming to an event that everyone should already be aware of.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If there is a secured lot nearby, contact the management and ask for their party rate. They should give a discount. Perhaps there is another lot nearby to leverage a bidding war against.

I’ve had good luck with this in the past. Offer them one set fee for all guests that present a parking ticket (that you make on your inkjet printer), and pick up the tab. Or at least the ticket gets them a discount.

Class it up and get a valet service!

marinelife's avatar

Let them know there is pay parking only. Then leave them to it. It is part of the cost of attending the event.

Ron_C's avatar

I find this question surprising as did a reader from England. I would never consider paying for parking or any other transportation fees with only one proviso. It this is a wedding and the bride and/or grooms parents live very far away or in another country, it would be reasonable to pay their transportation fees and for accommodations while they are in your city. Otherwise and for any other occasion, the guests can make their own arrangements. Perhaps have them meet at a public lot and have a bus take them all to the restaurant or arrange a group discount at a nearby parking facility. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even mention parking to my guests.

One other thought, providing a bus to take them to a particular meeting point may absolve you of legal problems if one of the guests has drunk driving issues after the party.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Giving the guests a ‘heads up’ about the parking situation and inquiring about a group discount is being more than hospitable. You might also want to read through this link to a similar question to get some additional ideas.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Yes, you pay. But they tip the valet.

rainbowspirit's avatar

This may be a very British point of view but it is not something that would even be considered here. It is very thoughtful of you but really it is down to your guests to be responsible for their own travel arrangements and costs. It certainly would not affect my decision as to whether I would attend any event I was invited to.
Rainbowspirit :o)

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m from the US but I agree with the Brits, here. Since you are hosting a nice event, they should be responsible for getting there, themselves, whether by their own cars, cabs, public transit or parachuting onto the roof!

augustlan's avatar

I agree with most of the above, it’s definitely not expected of you. As someone who once arrived at a wedding without any cash only to discover all parking options required cash payment, I would have appreciated a heads up about the parking situation, but would never have expected that the hosts pay.

cookieman's avatar

Thanks for all the great answers so far everyone. You’ve helped us make our decision.

chyna's avatar

And that decision is…...?

cookieman's avatar

@chyna: Oh, sorry. We decided to have the guests pay their parking, but we’ll alert them in advance to the parking options and check with the nearby garage about a group rate.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Having lived in San Francisco where there is next to 0 free parking then most people take on the responsibility of paying for themselves to attend events of their choice. For things with an invitation then it’s common for a few nearby parking garages to be mentioned within.

john65pennington's avatar

If this question concerns the party being held in a city, then most parking meters are free after 6 pm.

Here is how this is handled in Nashville. the parking situation is the responsibiliy of the car owner, not the party-giver. most people understand this and accept it.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I’ve never had to deal with such a situation before. I also say that, if you can afford it, and you want to do so, paying their parking would indeed be a nice touch. I don’t think it matters much what the occasion is – if you’re paying for the venue hire, for their food and for the entertainment (or whatever else is involved), the least they can do is pay the parking. The same goes for weddings – there are already so many expenses that the wedding couple have in having their wedding, the guests can pay their own parking as well, unless the bridal couple can afford to, and want to pay it as well. It would be the decent thing to do though to include in the invite what the parking fees are. However, if you’re inviting everyone to a restaurant and they’re paying their own food and drinks etc, then it might be nice to pay the parking for them.
Either way, i don’t think you’re obliged to pay parking fees in any situation, it would just be nice to do so if you choose to do so.

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