Think convenience and style are mutually exclusive? Not when you hire a wedding bus
You might think buses are more back-to-school than grown-up glamour. Perhaps you’re still haunted by memories of unruly kids up the back, wreaking havoc on the way to class.
But the truth is that, when it comes to wedding planning, communal transport can be a godsend. It’s an easy, efficient way to ensure all your guests get to the right place at the right time, with no stragglers or wrong turnings.
Pick a coach with the latest facilities and you can even make the journey itself a really enjoyable part of the day. No one will be shoving yer mammy’s mammy off one of these beauties.
What do you need to hire?
The prospect of hiring transport for 60-odd people at once is almost certainly outside your comfort zone, but don’t be scared. Instead, approach the task in the same way as you would the rest of your suppliers.
In other words, start sooner rather than later. “The timeline for hiring depends on the type of vehicle you’d like for your wedding day,” according to Yvonne Hannah, sales and marketing executive at Rennies Coach Hire.
“If you’re looking to book a vintage bus, you should really start the booking process as soon as you know the general location of your wedding. Two things to factor into your plans: bear in mind that, because of their age, these vehicles travel at a maximum speed of 30mph and they don’t operate in the evening or in the winter months.”
Don’t be put off: if your heart is set on an old-fashioned coach, it’s still a great idea. That’s because buses are still one of the most trusty and reliable modes of transport out there (even if, weirdly, they aren’t always so dependable on your Monday-morning commute…). These vehicles can even handle the temperamental Scottish climate.
“It’s very rare for the weather to be so extreme that it would affect a bus hire,” reckons Sam Phipps, co-owner of The Red Bus, which provides authentic 1960s-style double-deckers to vintage-loving couples.
“This is Scotland, and we can all cope with a decent amount of wind and rain. It would take a lot to make us cancel.”
If you’re after something completely practical to move your guests, a thoroughly modern fleet might be more up your street. These are well-suited to wedding parties that include older guests or people with impaired mobility.
“We have minibuses and coaches in various sizes that can accommodate wheelchairs,” offers Andy McDade of McDade’s Coaches, which operates out of Uddingston. “Some of our vehicles have space for several wheelchairs, but it’s worth noting that this will have an impact on the overall capacity of the bus.”
Logistics are key
Are you and your other half a little, er, geographically challenged? Would you struggle to drive from A to B if wasn’t for the satnav keeping you right? If so, the logistics of organising a large travelling party will probably feel utterly daunting. Coach companies, thankfully, are keen to reassure us that they’re here to help.
“We can do multiple pick-ups and drop-offs, so long as the vehicle can safely access, park and manoeuvre,” says Yvonne. And how far should we expect a bus to take us? “Most of our wedding hires are within a 20-mile radius of the central belt, but we will go as far as Perth and Dundee.”
It takes a little co-ordination, but you can easily create a travel schedule that will suit both you and your guests.
Keep your destination in mind
When planning your route, it’s worth taking costs into consideration – it might sound like common sense, but the longer the day the higher the price you’ll pay. “If you’re thinking of booking a bus for the sole purpose of taking the wedding party from, say, the church to the venue, that’s not going to be particularly expensive,” reckons Andy.
“I’d expect you’d be looking to pay about £150 for that trip. But if you’re planning to go between ceremony and reception venues as well as having pick-ups and drop-offs, that’s where costs start to rise as the driver is required to be out all day.”
On a positive note as far as your cashflow is concerned, it’s worth noting that some companies, such as Rennies, don’t require you to put down a deposit at the time of booking; instead, they ask only that the balance is paid in full two weeks prior to the big day.
Travel in style
Remember the tatty old rattling buses of our youth? You might not believe just how smart hire coaches can be nowadays. “Our executive coaches have Wi-Fi, an on-board toilet, DVD and CD players, leather seats and air-conditioning,” promises Yvonne.
And your coach can make a fashion statement: The Red Bus will decorate the vehicle with fresh flowers and satin ribbons so you can be assured that your wedding party are travelling in style (and that the vehicle will look top-notch in the pics).
Here’s another surprise: some suppliers, including The Red Bus and McDade’s, permit passengers to drink on board. “Guests often provide their own drinks in advance, which we chill at our depot and then help serve on the day for no extra charge,” says Sam.
“Mini bottles of prosecco with paper straws or ready-mixed cans of G&T work best.” We’ll raise a glass to that – and to the newlyweds, of course!
While your gang can get a little merry, they shouldn’t get carried away – or there’ll be consequences. The journey back home is one to watch out for: “We don’t allow the consumption of alcohol on our buses, but we expect that guests will have had a good time at the party,” says Yvonne at Rennies. “Sometimes people are sick, but if it’s excessive then we may ask for a contribution towards cleaning costs.”
Now you’ve got all the facts and figures you need to hand, there’s just one last question: how do you know which bus company is right for you? “My advice would be to go and visit the company in person,” suggests Andy.
“You don’t have to know anything about buses, but you’ll be able to get a feel for the business and learn what the managers are like. Besides, you meet the staff at your venue, you meet your band, you meet your suppliers – why wouldn’t you meet the people responsible for ferrying your guests around?”
So there you have it: stylish, convenient, reasonably priced buses get our vote. And we’ve not even mentioned our favourite thing about them – the endless potential for a singsong! All together now: “The front of the bus they cannae sing, they cannae sing, they cannae sing…”