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Get Me To The Church On Time

I don’t know whether it’s because it’s summer time or whether it’s to do with Valentine’s Day being just around the corner but I’ve seen quite a few cars running around the place on Saturdays with white ribbons on.


Now, once upon a time, probably back when my parents got married, there was less fuss about what sort of car was used to get the bride to church on time. The thing that really mattered was that she arrived there, preferably on time. I’m not sure when the tradition of having a fancy car (or a horse and carriage) to turn up in and go from the church to the photo shoot location to the reception in came from, but it appears to be fairly recent. My suspicion is that it dates back as far as the early 1980s and the start of the glamour-wedding industry that started after the royal wedding of Charles and Diana.


So what sort of car makes a good wedding car? Well, the only hard and fast rule about wedding cars is that you have to be able to get some white ribbon going from the sides of the windows and/or the top of the car down to the front of the car. The best sorts of cars are those that have a large medallion on the bumper, which simply begs to have ribbons attached to it. This means that classic Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz cars tend to be rather popular, although thanks to the design of modern vehicles and the demands of aerodynamics, the big medallions seem to be disappearing.


A wedding car should be luxurious in some way, and preferably largish. We’re talking about high-end vehicles here – usually European luxury models such as BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, Alfa Romeos and the like, although you could probably throw a Lexus into the list these days, along with some of the classier American numbers (Dodge and Chrysler). However, if you are passionate devotees of the blue oval or the lion, then a big V8 Ford or Holden – or the upmarket FPV or HSV – could also fit the bill. Custom seems to dictate that the wedding car is driven by a chauffeur (who can be Uncle Fred or the person who owns the car rather than a pro) and the bride needs to sit in the back in all her finery. After the ceremony, the groom needs to join here there. This means that although you might love the idea of a nippy little Alfa Romeo sports car as a wedding car, it’s going to be a bit awkward getting in and out of it. Four-wheel-drives don’t seem to be used as wedding cars much. I’ve certainly never seen one all decked out with the white ribbon, but given the tendency to find interesting and out of the way locations for photo shoots and outdoor weddings, a nice, luxurious Range Rover wouldn’t exactly be out of place.


Classic cars tend to be quite popular. If you are lucky enough to own a classic, you might like to consider hiring it out as a wedding car (and you go with it as the chauffeur) as a way of making a bit of pocket money on the side. These days, you get some of the quirkier classics being used as wedding cars, such as the cute VW Beetle (the old style), Minis and Kombis.


And what do you do if you want a car that doesn’t have a big medallion for getting ribbon onto? Here’s how you do it: Start by threading the ribbon through the grille above the front bumper – there’s usually somewhere you can do this. If you can’t get it through the grille, then feed it through the bumper. Get the ribbon even. Take one side up and put it through either the passenger side window or through the passenger side door and fix it to the sun visor. Do the same on the other side. If you want a bow out the front, make this separately and attach it to the bit of ribbon going through the grille. If you’ve fed the ribbon through the door, don’t slam the door; if the ribbon has gone through the window, don’t open the window.

There is another sort of wedding car, although this sort seems to be going out of fashion a bit (or else I’ve never been in the right place at the right time to see it). This is the getaway car, which tends to be what the newlyweds use to leave the reception in and head off on honeymoon in. This can be any sort of car, and if it isn’t a hired car, then it’s traditional to do this car up with balloons, tin cans, shaving cream, confetti and “Just Married” signs. There are two rules for getaway cars:

  • Don’t put a potato over the exhaust pipe or you risk gassing the newlyweds.
  • Wash any shaving cream messages off the back asap. If you leave it overnight, it can etch itself into the paint. This happened to me and for ages afterwards, you could see what was written when the car was in the right light. What made it worse was that my brother, who had done the car up, had made a spelling mistake so that little car had “Just Maried” on it for the rest of the time we owned it.