Tips for dressing up your Just Married getaway car

A simple "Just Married" sign and a few noisy cans tied to the back bumper will do for many newlyweds, but as traditional weddings give way to more innovative affairs the type of getaway car and its adornment are also changing.

The vehicle you choose to whisk you away to honeymoon bliss may be given as much consideration as what kosher caterer to use, and should reflect the atmosphere of the occasion.

According to Martha Stewart Living magazine, vintage cars are the trend of the moment as they offer the elegance of limousines with individualization. The magazine suggests checking with rental agencies or antique car clubs to find that one classic auto that fits the mood of your wedding. Or, find a friend or relative who owns a vintage auto you could borrow.

Any car that fits the personality of your wedding will work, but try to find one that is elegant, fun or whimsical — something unique. Even a pickup can work if it fits the mood of the day and is decorated right.

Once your getaway vehicle is chosen, the real challenge begins: decorating it. The right decorative treatment can make your departure for the honeymoon a grand event. Likewise, a halfhearted effort or use of the wrong materials can turn classy into tacky in minutes or ruin the finish on that gorgeous vintage Jaguar Roadster, leaving you with an unexpected bill to the rental agency.

Traditionally, the ushers or groomsmen decorate the getaway vehicle during the reception as a final send-off surprise to the newly married couple. But, as with any rule of etiquette, wedding traditions are open to reinvention.

Planning the vehicle decorations in advance and passing the plans on to the groomsmen will ensure your getaway car is as perfect as the rest of your big day.

If spontaneity is the theme of the occasion or a surprise sounds like the perfect cap to an otherwise rigidly scheduled day, at least make sure your vehicle is well taken care of by letting the decorators know what treatments to use and what materials to avoid.

As most weddings include a multitude of bouquets, flowers are perhaps the most popular decorative items. But, simply adding leftovers from the wedding to the car may not be the best idea.

Silk flowers are better than live as they tend to endure the elements and heat from the car better. If you do decide to use live flowers, avoid delicate flowers like tulips. Instead, choose hearty, inexpensive flowers like carnations or dendrobium orchids.

And, while bouquets may be appropriate for the ceremony, garlands have a better effect on cars. To make a garland, simply string strong thread through the centers of live or fake flowers with a needle. Try mounting a garland over a ribbon stretched across the hood or simply tie the garland around the car at window level with bows at available mounting points like door handles, bumpers, side mirrors and hood latches.

A lavish floral treatment for convertibles driven with the top down can be created with bunches of various-size and multicolored blooms. Secure bunches of flowers in the folds of the soft top with tape to form a frame of flowers along the back of the car. Secure a garland of smaller but matching blossoms along the top of the front window. The ends of the garland can be tied to the mounts for the car's top..

If you're looking to forgo foliage altogether, "The Brides Book of Etiquette," by the editors of Bride magazine, suggests a simple- yet-elegant effect: wrap the car with crepe paper like a gift with a big bow on top. If it looks like rain, skip the crepe paper as the color tends to bleed when wet — just include the bow. To finish the decorating, hang the cake topper in the window.

Another simple effect can be created by tying a bow to the hood ornament, with a streamer leading to both the passenger- and driver-side windows, creating a V-shape on the hood. Tie matching bows to each of the door handles and on the rear bumper.

With any decorating scheme, a sign is appropriate. A simple "Just Married" or "Mazel Tov " with the couple's first names painted on colored cardboard or foam-core board is all that's needed to let the world in on your good news. Attach the sign to the rear of the car. Be sure to secure all four corners of the sign before driving away, and don't obscure the license plate.

Regardless of the decorations you choose, be sure to consider the well-being of the car and its passengers.

Tying items down with ribbon or twine is the safest way to ensure the finish of the car is not damaged. If you must mount something with an adhesive, use masking tape designed for use with autos, or floral tape. Don't use glue, cellophane tape, rubber cement or paint, which will damage the paint finish.

Remember to keep the driver's view unobstructed, and if your decorations will include any hanging garlands or ribbons, be sure they are short enough to not get caught in the car's wheels or other moving parts once you're on the road.