Inject a little va-va-voom into your wedding by arriving – on time and wrinkle-free – in some seriously stylish transport, writes Sarah Gillespie
Hiring a special car just to get from A to B might seem like an unnecessary palaver (to say nothing of an extra expense in an already overstretched budget) but don’t underestimate the significance of sorting out some good, reliable wedding transport. While the idea of a bride in a long white dress waiting at a bus-stop because she forgot to book a car might sound funny, it really wouldn’t be amusing if it happened to you.
We caught up with wedding planner extraordinaire Claire Owens of Heart Weddings & Events (heartweddingsandevents.co.uk) to get the inside track on all the transport need-to-know essentials.
OFF TO A FLYING START
Although your transport doesn’t have to be the first thing you book – far more important to get a venue and photographer nailed first – it’s useful to keep it in mind, especially when you are looking at venues. If your reception is to be held in the heart of the city, you might not be able to have a horse and carriage. Equally, some vintage car companies prefer to avoid motorways. “Of course, you might not actually require wedding cars,” Claire points out. “If you’re looking to save money, have your ceremony and reception in the same location. As well as being easier to organise, it saves money on travelling between the two.”
Themes are also important – you don’t want to choose something that jars with the rest of the day. If you’ve designed a retro or vintage wedding, a classic Cadillac or Beauford will look so much more appropriate than a super-flashy modern convertible sports car such as a Mercedes SLS. “Once you’ve picked a theme or style, you should try to carry this through your day in all the individual elements, including your transport,” says Claire.
SAVE THE GUESTS TIL LAST
If your reception is being held some distance away from your ceremony (or from where most of your guests live), you may feel obliged to lay on transport for everyone. But you are really only responsible for the bridal party, so whether or not you arrange coach hire really depends on your budget. “One way round this problem is to ask for money towards the coach instead of a present,” Claire suggest. “Or you could arrange this on behalf of your guests but ask them to pay. If you’re nervous about asking people for a contribution, you could arrange for a portion of the money to go to charity – for example, £10 per head, with £3 going to charity. This might make people happier to pay.”
As you are ultimately not responsible for getting people home, we’d predict that the number of those grateful for an option that didn’t involve driving would far outweigh the grumpy few who might resent being asked to cough up – they’d have to pay for petrol if they’re driving, a taxi or an overnight stay at a hotel if you don’t! If you can’t afford to put on transport between the ceremony and reception, you should consider picking venues close together, as the pace of the day could become disjointed as people try calling taxis, attempting to walk (possibly getting lost and seeking shelter in a pub), or waiting around while they figure out what to do. It could mean asking members of your bridal party to be shepherds, and you might need them or others for your photos post-ceremony.
ASK THE EXPERTS
A wedding planner might seem like a A-list expense, but more often than not they will secure you special rates and discounts that add up to more than their fee, so don’t rule it out. One of the most stressful parts of planning (decreasing bank balances aside) is all the liaising between suppliers that is required, and keeping on top of where you’re at with upwards of 15 different companies involved in your day.
Take everything into account, including location, numbers, budget and the size of your dress
“We take care of the communication and co-ordination of each booking, ensuring every supplier knows where they need to be and when. It’s also so important shortly before the big day to confirm your arrangements with suppliers,” says Claire. “I heard about a wedding recently where nobody confirmed the pick-up time with the coach company, and the guests all had to wait around as alternative arrangements were made to get them to the reception.”
WORDS OF WARNING
“I would say that the three biggest mistakes couples make when planning their own wedding transport are: not properly calculating the journey time or distance; not taking into consideration the impact bad weather will have on the roads; and using their own car to try to save money,” says Claire.
The journey times can seriously interfere with the running order of the day – and you can imagine how miserable it would feel to be in an open-top carriage when the heavens opened. Using your own car, however practical it might seem, is not failsafe. For a start, it might not be as clean you think – not ideal when you are wearing a white dress. You might think that sachet of ketchup from your last sneaky McDonald’s drive-through was lost forever, but you can bet your shiny new ivory shoes that it will suddenly develop an uncanny ability to seek and destroy.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a wedding planner to oversee your entire day, you could try just a ‘supplier sourcing’ service. “We have a bank of suppliers we know and trust, so we can recommend these to our clients with confidence,” says Claire. Also included in the fee for this service (Heart Weddings and Events charges around £30 per supplier) is all the legwork in checking availability and getting quotes, and coming up with a couple of different options for each company.
We asked Claire what her top tip would be for couples about to start organising their transport: “Be realistic,” she asserts. “Take everything into account, including location, numbers, budget and the size of your dress. Shop around to get the best deal – and remember there are always alternatives. Something out there ticks all your boxes!”