Stage your getaway in a yacht, on horseback or cable car

Automobiles are perfectly fine modes of transpiration, but a bit tame compared to Cinderella's coach, a hot-air balloon or even a motorcycle when it comes to creative wedding getaways. With the average age of brides now up to 26, plans for weddings, including transportation, have become more sophisticated.

Sure, somewhere there will always be the clanging of tin cans that were tied to the poor couple's bumper, but trends show that more elegant — and sometimes offbeat — modes of transportation that fit into the wedding theme are now carrying the bride and groom off to their future.

Having a Western-style nuptial? If the bride and groom each ride, why not rent horses and gallop off into the sunset together? Tying the knot at a yacht club or marina-side venue? Cruise off in style on a 30-foot sailboat.

In Coronado, wedding consultant Helen Walker says most of the brides she works with like the idea of a horse and carriage.

"They become stars," she says. "People on the street wave at them, stop them and offer congratulations. It's very grand."

Susanne Duffy, catering sales manager at Le Meridien, a resort hotel that sits on the Coronado side of San Diego Harbor, says many brides make their entrances on old sailing boats or speedboats.

Barbara Jean Kuehl of Wisconsin and her husband hired a horse and carriage to take them and the wedding party to the reception. "Of course, this type of getaway fits right in with our medieval theme wedding," she says.

But she has also seen wedding parties transported on trolleys or English double-decker buses.

Anything is possible with some imagination, the appropriate budget and planning. The easiest way to approach the issue is by working with a wedding consultant.

If, however, you are planning the event yourself, Walker suggest picking up brochures at bridal shows, asking for word-of-mouth referrals from friends and co-workers, and getting suggestions from the hotel or venue you've selected for the reception. You can also check local magazines and even the yellow pages.

If you are planning a wedding that will take place in another city, again, consult bridal shows, but also check with the city's visitors center or chamber of commerce as well as the local bridal association.

There are other ways to hunt down what you want if it's off the beaten track. Many people, for instance, love the idea of riding off in a vintage car.

In San Diego, couples would have luck with a company called Simply Elegant — the firm has a 1941 Packard, a 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and even a 1953 Austin Princess Limousine (used at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation), among its rental vehicles.

In San Francisco, if you check under the numerous "Wedding" headings in the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages, you'll find listings for yachts, horse-drawn carriages and motorized cable cars.

Other cities, however, may not have a company per se to call on. But if there are vintage car aficionados in the area, there probably is a car club of some kind. One or more members may be interested in renting theirs out. If you do deal with a private owner, be sure you have the car's condition checked out, find out what kind of insurance is necessary and put your agreement in writing in advance.

Love hogs? One wedding guest recalls the bride and groom bidding farewell on their Harley-Davidson, the bride's outfit replete with a lace-trimmed-and-veiled helmet.

How much do these trappings cost? It varies, of course, depending on what kind of transportation you're talking about, where the wedding is being held, at what time of year and day of the week and the distance being traveled.

Cable Car Charters in San Francisco charges $600 for three-hour wedding tours of the city aboard its motorized charters, which can carry as many as 45 people. Refreshments are allowed.

In San Jose, AAA Limousines rents Lincoln Town Cars in sizes that range from six passengers up to 14 passengers. The package includes champagne or cider, a wedding balloon bouquet, keepsake photograph, red carpet service and tuxedo-attired chauffeur. Prices for a three-hour wedding special range from $185 to $495.

Sharon Hoffer, wedding consultant for the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, says her couples often take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city's Gaslamp Quarter or to Seaport Village while the guests have cocktails. It creates a special moment for them before the hubbub of the reception.

However you choose to make your getaway, make sure that in your dealings with the vendor you find out what is included in the package, when you have to pay the deposit and whether or not it goes toward any kind of cancellation penalty, what the cost would be for extra time or carrying extra people and when the final payment is due. Make sure everything is in writing.

Then get ready to sail, fly or trot off into your future.