Don’t let wedding transport drive you round the bend. Our experts’ insider tips will have you heading in the right direction before you know it
Words by Sarah Howden
They say the journey is just as important as the destination. For me, it was watching the snow fall outside as my father and I made our way arm and arm along the elegant hotel corridor to my candlelit ceremony room. For others, it’s those last special moments with their dad in a beautiful classic car or prestige Rolls before his little girl becomes a wife.
Irrespective of how you get there, wedding transport says a lot about a couple. It reflects the atmosphere of the day, the overall wedding theme and expresses their personality. And there’s not just the bride and groom’s transport to think about – depending on the location, there’s the wedding party and the guests to consider too.
If arriving in style is important to you, here’s our essential transport guide to get you moving on your special day.
GET INTO THE MOVE
Firstly, think about where the action will take place. If your venue is right in the heart of the city centre and is hosting both the ceremony and the party, your guests won’t need transportation laid on. If it’s all taking place in a hotel and you’re staying over the night before with the wedding party as part of your package, then realistically you won’t need transport either. But if you’ll be moving from church to venue and have invited evening guests to boot, or you’ve booked a rural location and you want your guests to be able to let their hair down and party, it’s time to get planning.
According to Alan McWilliam, owner of EG Chauffeur Hire (egchauffeurhire.com), you shouldn’t be afraid to ask the experts for guidance and cost-cutting suggestions. “Most couples ask for advice on what the options are and who goes in which car, and we help them as much as possible,” he explains. “We tell them about the traditional methods but ultimately it’s their day so it’s all about what they want – and, of course, what is achievable on their budget. If the venue is close by, we offer double runs rather than hiring additional cars. Or sometimes the bridal party will all sit in the same car.”
Traditional etiquette has it that the ushers travel together in one car and arrive before the guests. Then the groom and best man travel together. Before the ceremony is due to start, the bridesmaids and mother of the bride will arrive together, before the bride and her father. The cost of all these cars can quickly mount up. And so, according to Clare Niven, owner of Something Old (something-old.co.uk), a small family-run business supplying vintage, classic and new cars (such as a 1962 Bentley S2, a 1934 Austin 12-4 Berkeley, a 1964 Daimler 250 V8 and a new Bentley Arnage), you must research your venue.
“We advise couples to make sure that their transport provider is familiar with the areas where pickups, drop offs and photographs will be taken. Not all venues are suitable for all forms of transport, particularly when it comes to older or specialist vehicles. We research every aspect of the transport requirements and contact the venue.”
She adds: “We are also keen to liaise directly with photographers and planners prior to the day as it is important for them to know what the couples have discussed with us as well as them.”
Make sure you also take account of journey lengths, with extra thought – and time – given to congestion issues.
WHAT TO TRAVEL IN
It seems clear that today’s wedding transportation is no longer just a matter of the journey to the church or venue. Now, what you travel in expresses a lot about you a couple and the feel of the wedding.
A vintage-inspired celebration in the country works well with a classic car for the wedding party and a vintage double-decker bus for guests, whereas an unashamedly luxurious car provides the teaser to a glamorous venue.
According to Shahid Iqbal, managing director of S1 Luxury Car Hire (s1luxurycarhire.co.uk), which has one of the few Rolls-Royce Phantom for hire in Scotland, today’s brides and grooms are looking to indulge. “The Phantom and the Range Rover Sport are the most popular choice with brides,” he says, “while grooms often prefer something a bit louder and more sporty. We have luxury cars and supercars, so we can usually keep both parties happy.”
And while car choice can be related to wedding theme, mostly it’s about having fun. “If the wedding is very grand then the Rolls-Royce Phantom does the talking. But regardless of the wedding theme, some customers have a lifelong dream about being chauffeured in a Roller on their big day,” he adds.
EG Chauffeur Hire’s Alan McWilliam agrees: “We have a range of wedding cars and offer everything from the quirky and vintage to the fairytale car. Our Jaguar Super V8s are very popular as we have four identical ones which look really impressive together. Our VW campervan is also much loved by the couples who hire it and seems to be especially popular with older couples and those getting married for the second time. Our main bridal car, the vintage Badsworth Landaulette in stunning white, is also a real winner with brides and grooms.”
THE GUEST LIST
Transporting your guests by car can be costly so it comes as no surprise that many of today’s couples opt for buses. McDade’s Coaches (mcdades.co.uk), which has a specialist wedding coach hire service, offers everything from midi coaches that can seat 20 to 33, through to 70-seater luxury coaches complete with on-board toilet.
Owner Andy explains: “Hiring a bus for your wedding is proving to be more and more popular for transporting guests. It’s an extremely effective method of ensuring that everyone gets to the venue together and at the right time as well as being a great way to overcome the logistical problems of getting to the reception afterwards, not to mention the problems of parking in some areas.
“We can begin with a guest pickup at a central point or even a number of well-known pickup points. And taking them back can be sorted out too – you can even arrange shuttle trips back so guests have some flexibility in the time they leave the reception.”
TAKE A TIMEOUT
According to Alan, at EG Chauffeur Hire, timeout trips are becoming increasing popular. “We’ve noticed that a lot more wedding ceremonies are taking place in hotels, which reduces the need to hire a car. But the time a newly married couple used to spend together going from the church to the reception is still an important part of the day for many, so we offer a service where we pick the bride and groom up from the hotel after the ceremony and take them on a drive to some of their favourite spots,” he explains. “It’s a great chance for them to have some quality time together, to soak up the atmosphere and toast their marriage in private. It has become incredibly popular – some couples even choose to get their photos done at the same time.”
According to Alan, a budget of around £1000 would be an ample amount to transport the main wedding party. His company offers a three-car package, including its vintage bridal car, for £799.
At S1 Luxury Car Hire, the team cater to a range of budgets, starting at £150 and going into the thousands for those who want to arrive in truly unique fashion, such as in a helicopter.
And for coach hire, you’re looking at a minimum price of £150 for a 50-seater with local travel one way. Lanarkshire-based McDade Coaches charges from £350 for day guests to be transported from the ceremony venue to the reception venue (local travel), with prices starting at £400 to include a pickup from one location of the evening guests (local travel).
Whatever you do, read the small print to spot any potential hidden costs, and be honest about the location of your venue so you can get an accurate quote.
“Some companies have mileage subcharges – these can be up to £1.80 per mile per car, which can quickly add up,” says Alan. “Often you’ll find that there is also a four-hour booking from ‘office to office’ which essentially means the time starts from when the car leaves the company’s office and finishes when it’s back there. If the venue is out of the way, the time can very quickly run out. We offer a flat rate that incorporates a general mileage radius to keep the cost down and prevent any nasty surprises on the bill. Our rates also include champagne in the car, ribbons on the car and drivers’ ties match the bridal colours.”
Something Old’s Clare Niven agrees: “Many companies’ charges for one vehicle could vary from under £300 to over £1000, depending on the type of car, geographical location and length of hire. Our policy is to tailor the cost to the requirements, and we do not differentiate between our cars. The level of preparation required for a car is the same whether it is a new Bentley or a vintage Austin.”