Bow Field Hire - family owned fleet of wedding limousines - West Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire

 


  • Choosing The Right Wedding Car Provider

    MY ADVICE

    I have drawn on my 24 years experience in the business of providing wedding transport to bring you the following
    advice which is offered in good faith and is not intended as a means of promotion of any of Bow Field Hire services
    or its vehicles. It is an overview of wedding transport providers, their offerings and the websites you may encounter.
    It is my guide in helping you get it right.
    Taking a few minutes to read through this page may save you heartache later.


    It does no harm to shop around, we all do it and we like to feel we got the best deal. This is probably your first time at this and it may seem a bit of a minefield.
    There will be very good wedding car providers in your area, but they may be matched by a number of 'cowboys' who are only interested in making as big a profit as possible with the minimum effort and sub-standard vehicles. There is no reason to make a costly mistake if you make use of the few good pointers which I have outlined below and will help you sort out the wheat from the chaff.

    ANY OLD CAR, ANY OLD CAR, ANY, ANY, ANY OLD CAR !!!

    Anyone can hire out their own car for a wedding - wedding hire is exempt from licensing regulations. Unfortunately, many individuals see this as a means to a fast buck and will not have appropriate insurance cover. Some don't realise they need it, others don't care. The result is many poor condition vehicles out there along with those which are just unsuitable for a wedding not to mention those which may not be road worthy. Inexperience is yet another factor in the boom of vehicles for wedding hire.

    Look for an established wedding transport provider with a range of vehicles suitable for weddings. Established companies will have experience and knowledge regarding their vehicles, etiquette, chauffeurs attire, what to expect during the hire, how to take care of nervous passengers, resolving problems, bridal attire etc. Rust buckets arriving at weddings with chauffeur's wearing trainers is not an uncommon sight.
    Don't be afraid to ask about their insurance and their experience credentials.

    Ford Mondeo An unsuitable Wedding Car Bubble Car Rusty old car

    Wedding transport is a very important part of the wedding day. It is the last journey a daughter will take with her father as a single person and her first journey as a married woman with her husband. The company employed to make these all important journeys should be experienced and professional
    in their duties and the vehicles they offer should be fit for purpose.
    WEBSITES
    Always make sure the website you are looking at displays their full address. A P.O. Box address is not sufficient. Look for their landline telephone number, not a mobile number or freephone number.
    Never, ever part with any money to a website that does not comply with these basic requirements. If the website does not contain these minimum details, move on.

    ALARM BELLS

    Does the same website content keep appearing under different names, different address's and phone numbers. I know I said above that all websites should show address details but this would be an instance when it may not be worth the paper it's written on. It would be unprofessional for me to disclose the websites in question but having brought this deception to your attention, you will have to determine for yourself whether they are genuine

    LESS THAN HONEST

    Some websites will offer a huge number of vehicles for you to choose from. It is not unknown for unscrupulous individuals to copy images from legitimate websites, paste them on to their own and then offer them to you.
    This practice is common and we have been the victim of this sharp practice many times. We keep a close eye on all other websites throughout the country, looking for images that have been stolen from this website. We always take action against them to remove all content which belongs to us and is copyrighted.
    Some wedding car providers will offer vehicles they have no right to advertise, are no longer in service and are unable to secure for your event - and they know it!!


    BASIC RULES

    Stick to the basic rules of good website content, i.e. full address and landline number, clear information, up-to-date images, not old, hazy images. Look at any shots of brides, are they current. T's & C's should be displayed. Be sure you can make telephone contact.


    VERY SMALL DEPOSITS
    Paying a very small deposit for a quality vehicle sounds great but in reality, maybe not so. Why would a wedding car supplier be prepared to remove a quality product from all other enquiries for the next year (or longer) for 50 quid. The risk is too high.
    You should expect to pay a reasonable sum of money to reserve any decent vehicle. This could be anything from around £100 per vehicle or, if reserving several vehicles, or vehicles for a longer than normal period, you may be required to pay around 40% -50% of the total bill. Neither is unreasonable.
    VIEWING VEHICLES
    Some people, understandably, want to be able to view the cars before making any decisions. The opportunity to view should be available to those who wish to do this.
    Any decent company will offer this service to you with viewings at their premises.
    Don't put up with someone who opens the garage door when you arrive and says 'there it is.' with no opportunity to have a closer inspection or being able to get inside the vehicle to try it for size.

    If any company suggests you view any of their vehicles in the following fashion, walk away and try another.
    " Go along to the church and see the car while it's working. We think this is the best way to view the car."
    OR
    "Meet me in the Dog & Duck car park."
    LOW PRICES - NOT ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
    I won't recommend that you opt for the lowest price offered to you. There is always a reason why a price is low or seems too good to be true. If you want to compare prices you must ensure that you are looking for a like for like quote. It's no good comparing quotes between a vintage Rolls Royce and a Beauford. The itinerary you give must be consistent. If you have been quoted, say, £450 for a decent vintage Rolls Royce and another contractor quotes £300, there is a mistake. The chances are, the lower quote is NOT for a decent vintage Rolls Royce. More likely the quote is for a Rolls Royce Shadow or Spirit or the like. Quite a different car altogether. (See section below re: Hiring a Rolls Royce.) In other words, be sure of exactly what the vehicle is.
    If, on the other hand, both quotes are for supposedly, decent vintage Rolls Royce's, the quote of £450 would be about the ball park for a wedding within a reasonable distance to the companies premises. The £300 quote - well, inexperienced, the car is possibly in a less than acceptable condition, they are possibly not insured. My advice - be very cautious.

    Any wedding car company worth their salt with decent vehicles will not offer John Lewis products and services at an Asda price, so make sure you know what sort of price you need to pay for the type of vehicle you are after. An appreciation of the money and time spent on these vehicles should be observed. Generally, the quotations you receive will not be excessive and may vary by ± 10%. Quotations substantially less should be viewed with a cautious eye. (with the exception of genuine offers.) Do not expect 'taxi' prices, you will be disappointed. Never accept an estimate if you have given a firm itinerary, a quotation is what you need and they should be happy to put this in writing to you. If you are going to change the itinerary later, you MUST let your contractor know in advance, but expect an increase in charges. No one works for free.

    HIRING A ROLLS ROYCE - CONFUSING PRICES
    Prices will vary according to the Rolls Royce you are looking at. There are basically 3 groups - Vintage and Classic, 70's, 80's and 90's, and lastly, Modern.

    70's/ 80's/ 90's The cheapest RR to hire i.e. RR Shadow, Spirit, Spur and Wraith. None of these Rolls Royce's should be confused with the other two groups. They are easy to find, numbers are high, have no rarity value, are reasonably cheap to purchase and now fall into the 'in limbo' group of vehicles, i.e. not old, not new and not classic (yet.) Not particularly photogenic. Starting around £250, average £300

    Vintage and Classic will range from the 1920's to around 1965 and will include Wraith's, Cloud's, Phantom's, special build bodies and one off's. The hire charges will be considerably higher due to their purchase price, rarity value, pedigree and extremely high maintenance costs. Starting around £400, average £450

    Modern Rolls Royce's i.e. Phantom, may have an even higher charge than the vintage and classic. This is purely down to their purchase price. Not as popular as vintage and classic and not photogenic. Starting around £500, average £550


    MATCHING CAR COLOURS - A FAD OF THE PAST (HOPEFULLY)
    Do not fall into the trap of trying to match car colours to your wedding theme colours. This became a very popular demand in the early 2000's. Cars, old or new come in very few colour options. Trying to ensure that the colour of your transport matches the bridesmaids attire will seriously limit your choices.

    Your transport, especially if you are opting for one of the 'old girls' should be viewed as a beautiful stand-alone addition to your wedding. Maybe it has heritage, an historical vehicle, a rare vehicle, a one off vehicle. Whatever it's pedigree, it should be chosen for its beauty alone.

    VEHICLE CONDITION
    You should expect any vehicle to be in a good condition. Obviously, this is subjective, what is deemed good or bad will differ from person to person. Rusty area's on the bodywork, rusty chrome work, tears in seats etc. in my opinion is not acceptable and would be a sub-standard product. I would say any vehicle in this state is not fit for purpose and should be avoided. Vehicle condition should also cover the mechanical parts as well as the body work. Of course, you won't be able to tell if it's good or bad, but the overall condition of what you can see should be an indication as to whether the mechanics are being taken care of. Even the highest level of maintenance does not mean mechanical failure cannot happen.

    BEING REASONABLE

    Expecting perfection is unreasonable unless you are hiring a brand spanking new vehicle. Many wedding cars are old or very old and keeping them looking like new is just about impossible.
    Pristine condition old girls are few and far between and are usually confined to museums and/or private collections, not for hire. Be sensible and reasonable with your expectations. Don't accept a sub-standard vehicle.
    If in doubt, make sure you arrange a viewing. If you feel very doubtful, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
    WHEN TO MAKE YOUR BOOKING
    Popular vehicles will be booked as far ahead as two years or more. The most popular vehicles are vintage, very closely followed by classic. The rule is simple - if you have found the car you want, are happy with the price and the wedding car provider - book it. If you love it, someone else will too. Weddings in peak season - Easter to October, will be busy. If vintage or classic is what you are after, don't think too long, you may lose it to another wedding. Make your decision and secure your booking.

    MUTUAL RESPECT....
    Any wedding car provider should treat you with respect throughout your time with them. This should go without saying. However, equally, making bullish demands will not be conducive to a good working relationship.
    A decent wedding car provider will work hard for you. Your appreciation and respect should not go unnoticed.

    RIBBONS, CHAMPAGNE AND FLOWERS
    Car mascot Champagne Flowers
    RIBBONS: In my opinion, wedding car livery should be simple and traditional, that is, white ribbons. (Ivory is now an acceptable alternative.) The dressing of vehicles should be kept to a minimum with simple bonnet ribbon and tidy bows on door handles, no tails. Many car companies will offer any ribbon colour of your choice within their price. Think carefully before matching ribbons to your wedding colour theme, the result can be a chocolate box on wheels.
    CHAMPAGNE: Many wedding car companies will offer complimentary champagne or, at an additional charge. Either way, the supplying of alcohol requires an alcohol license. If your wedding car supplier does not hold a license and supplies you with alcohol, they are committing an offense.
    FLOWERS: Where possible, a silk floral display will be placed on the cars rear parcel shelf and should be of neutral colour. Some companies may offer colours or fresh flowers. As lovely as fresh flowers are, I can't recommend them. The rear window of a vehicle can become a very warm place, fresh flowers will soon wilt and look less than pretty.
    Simple wedding livery should come as standard. Optional extra's, such as those listed above should never become a deciding factor when choosing your wedding car supplier.
    CHAUFFEURS - JUST DRIVERS?
    Your chauffeur may be your first contact on the big day. He should be friendly, helpful and polite. Never familiar. His attire should be grey or dark blue with white shirt and tie, chauffeurs hat, gloves optional. Any other colours are not acceptable. If he turns up wearing trainers, a strongly worded letter of complaint should follow.

    Chauffeurs are not only there to get you to the church on time, they play an important role in making passengers feel at ease. Chauffeurs often find themselves in the role of 'Guardian Angel' to nervous and tearful brides (and dads) Nerves can cause forgetfulness,
    bouquets are left behind. Things can feel like they are falling apart. An experienced chauffeur will understand these nerves and work hard to bring an air of calm.
    Chauffeur's cap
    Your chauffeur will be a trusted friend while he is with you. Helping you out of the car is a must, your dress will hide the step down. Without his assistance, you may fall out of the door - not a good look. He will help you with your train (if you have one) and ensure you don't leave your bouquet in the car. His role is to keep you safe, calm and smiling. He will be happy to do this and any good chauffeur will do it well. Tips/gratuities are appreciated but are at your discretion.

    AGENCIES / BROKERS / CONSORTIUMS and INTRODUCTORY AGENTS - THE PRO'S AND CON'S
    As you go through websites, it's easy to tell the difference between a private offering of wedding cars and an agency / broker / introductory agent / consortium. They will list a large selection of cars available for wedding hire, most of which they do not own (if any at all.) Your booking is sub-contracted out and the agency receives a commission, usually around 20%.
    A consortium is a group of car owners who get together under one umbrella. Usually, one owner will oversee the running of the website and bookings etc. and pass out the work to the relevant car owner. Technically, still an agency/broker.
    The responsibilities of any of the above does not differ from a private wedding car provider. Any company which accepts your payment must be prepared to offer a committed level of customer care from begriming to end which does not involve you having contact with the sub-contractor, even if things go wrong.

    Make sure you have read their Terms before making payment to ensure they will take full responsibility throughout including if the worse happens.
    If they claim to be an "Introductory Agent" make sure before booking that in the event of complaint or seeking reimbursement that they will handle your complaint and not pass you over to the sub-contractor.
    PRO'S
    1. A large selection of vehicles, maybe several hundred vehicles.

    CON'S
    1. It may be difficult to arrange a viewing and unlikely that you will be able to view several vehicles in one place at one time. You will not see the entire range at all.

    2. You may not get the personal service you expected.

    3. You may pay more than you need to.

    4. An agent is a middleman - perhaps an unwanted complication.

    5. Resolving issues may be complicated if you are passed around.
    Windsor Landaulette IF THE THOUGHT OF MECHANICAL BREAKDOWN on your big day is keeping you awake at night, you really only have two options:
    1. Hire 2 vehicles, that way if anything happens to the 1st vehicle, the 2nd vehicle has the chance to take over.
    2. Hire brand new vehicles which will have the benefit of modern technology and mechanics (but can still break down.)
    Worrying about what might happen will cause unnecessary stress. Planning should be exciting not stressful. In the end, what will be, will be and no amount of worrying will change it. My only recommendation is that anyone ploughing large sums of money into a large event should have adequate insurance cover. The cost is low and you'll be covered for just about any eventuality.

    GUT FEELING....
    In the end, there is quite a lot to be said for 'gut feeling'
    In other words, confidence. Feeling comfortable and confident with your wedding car supplier will bring peace of mind.

    If you feel the company are blasé, uninterested, indifferent and unhelpful about your event and your requirements, they should not be given the time of day and certainly not your money.

    A wedding is a momentous occasion for those getting married and that should be recognized and respected by all and every service which you will need to employ.
    Any company who fails to recognize their privileged position within such an event should be avoided.
    Rolls Royce Sedanca De Ville
    Feeling special is all important whatever your walk of life.

    THE LEAST YOU SHOULD EXPECT - A CHECK LIST
    A comprehensive website with decent images and plenty of information.
    Their Terms & Conditions should also be displayed on their website together with FULL contact details and landline telephone number.

    You should be able to make contact with a good wedding car company by telephone during working hours. Outside of working hours too - even better. Talking to a real person will give you a feel as to how they operate and respond to you.

    Any emails you send should be responded to quickly.

    Any questions you have should be addressed.

    You should be able to view the vehicle(s) within a reasonable time frame, I would say within 3 days from first contact and at their premises not in a pub car park or out on a job.

    Vehicles of a good condition should be expected.

    Make sure you are getting what you are paying for and that your expectations of costings are realistic.

    Make sure any special offer discounts are genuine. Did they hike up the price to then lower it and call it a discount/special offer?

    Once your booking is made, you should expect full, easy to read confirmation of your booking to include what you have paid and exactly what you are going to get along with the companies FULL contact details.

    After making your reservation, any subsequent contact should be as easy as before.

    A final quality to consider is the contractor personally. Are they affable and easy to talk to, or bullish and arrogant? If you feel intimidated by them, it will harder to have a good relationship.
    A good company will be eager to please.
    Sedanca De Ville 1949 Rolls Royce 1951 Rolls Royce
    GET IT RIGHT - SMILES ALL ROUND

    Be cautious, be aware. If you can get a recommendation, all the better.

    your expectations should be realistic and sensible. Don't push the boundaries.

    Be prepared to pay the going rate for a good wedding car company with good vehicles.

    If you have champagne tastes but only beer money, be sensible and lower your sights to what you can afford.

    Be clear with your requirements. Chopping and changing the itinerary later can result in confusion and mistakes.

    Make sure the above basic list of expectations can be met.

    If alarm bells ring - don't ignore them

    Enjoy stress-free planning of your wedding transport.

    HAPPY DAYS - Julie Goodman
    Bride and groom waving from car Ex-Royal The Kiddies
      Regent Landaulette  

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    Car mascot Wedding ribbons Union Jack flag on car mascot

We are more than happy to provide our wedding cars in Surrey

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