Wedding cars don’t break down
Well that seems to be the opinion of many businesses and the assumption of the majority of couples who hire wedding transport.
Obviously the truth is all cars need regular servicing and most cars break down at some point. Not often but it does happen.
Three myths about wedding cars (all cars actually)
- if they are well serviced they won’t break down
- modern tyres don’t get punctures
- traffic accidents and hold-ups don’t happen during a wedding
In the rare case that a wedding car has a puncture, gets stuck in traffic congestion, or experiences a break-down it is reassuring to know that Belle Limousines has a contingency plan. It is even safer if you have your own back-up plan in place too. A good plan may take ten minutes to organise in advance and can be engaged in minutes and keep your wedding day to schedule.
Suggestions for a couple’s wedding transport Plan B
1 Make a pick-up time buffer
In most general charter bookings it is wise to create a 5 -10 minute buffer in the pick-up time. For wedding transfers we recommend that you organise for the wedding cars to arrive 15 minutes (minimum) before you need to leave. If your wedding cars do not arrive at the set time, wait two minutes at most and then call our office. If you wait until your cars are 10-15 minutes late before reporting a car hasn’t arrived there is little time left to engage Plan B if there is a serious problem. You will be late.
At around $1 per minute (additional time rate) this is a very small price to pay for some piece of mind.
Our target arrival time is 15 minutes before your appointed departure time and we usually arrive 5 – 10 minutes early. This is to factor in various issues including:
- possible traffic congestion
- encountering a delay because of an traffic accident
- dealing with navigation through new building estates (where roads on the map don’t exist yet)
If you add in a buffer too then you are doubly protected and have time to implement your ‘Plan B’ if needed. Some things to remember when scheduling wedding cars include:
- travel times calculated by Google and GPS devices do not include stopping at traffic lights etc
- factor in at least 5 minutes every time a group needs to board or alight from the limousine
Many other businesses state (in their terms and conditions) that 15 minutes late for a pick-up is considered by them as ‘on-time’. I’m not sure how they figure that out, they are obviously very patient people and consider your schedule must be quite flexible. If you are not using Belle Classic Limousines I advise you to read the small print of the business’ T&Cs.
2 Have spare car(s) where you get ready for the day
What do you do if your wedding transport won’t make it to you on time?
The simplest back-up plan for wedding transfers is to have spare cars on site (where you are getting prepared for the ceremony) that may be used if necessary. Remember that you need to have seating for all of your wedding party and to assign a driver to each car needed so they know their role. The driver(s) should also be briefed on the ceremony address and a suitable route. The timing of the drive to the ceremony will have been organised earlier so there will be no need for the group to rush. Ten minutes late is not a tragedy – injury caused by a traffic accident is a tragedy.
If you can get to the ceremony using your ‘Plan B’, the limousine business will usually have time to sort out the issue and continue with your wedding service from then on.
3 Use other guests as part of your ‘Plan B’
What do you do if your wedding car gets a flat tyre or breaks down on the way to the ceremony?
If guests are leaving from the house just before the bridal party make them wait until the wedding cars arrive. Organise for them to drive the same route as the wedding cars and to have a few spare seats on the way to the wedding and to be prepared for a call to return if needed. Often the bridal party gets stranded at the preparation venue after a number of cars have just left.
I know of one wedding where the bridal party were left waiting on the verge for 10 minutes after everyone else left for the wedding. They didn’t have access to the house after the owners left, and had no form of communication if something went wrong – not much fun in that, especially if the transport is delayed.
If it is a long drive to the ceremony location have the guests follow the bridal transport to the wedding – they’ll love being part of the bridal procession. The bridal cars can do a lap of a block near the ceremony or pull over for a few minutes before the venue while the guests park and take their seats.
4 Loop-de-loop weddings
When you plan to use the same wedding cars or limousine to deliver the groom’s party then travel on to collect the bridal party you have a double jeopardy. While it makes good sense economically, if a hold up occurs anywhere during the process (especially with the groom’s party transfer) the whole wedding gets delayed because of the carry on effect of the car travelling to the bridal party. Three most common problems are caused by:
- the groom’s party are not ready or end up leaving late (there are 100’s of reasons this happens)
- the groom’s party forget something (at a recent wedding a return for a pair of cufflinks made the groom’s transfer 50 minutes late which then delayed the whole wedding by that time)
- a breakdown during the groom transfer means the bridal party also do not have transport
Loop-de-loop is fairly problem free if the locations involved are close to the ceremony venue. We recommend that the bridal party should be within a 10 minute drive to the ceremony. If the bridal party have a ‘Plan B’ in place in case the groom’s party are delayed the wedding can usually run to schedule.
Simple back-up strategies planned in advance can take the anxiety out of your wedding day.
Belle Classic Limousines’ Plan B
We never fully book our fleet of wedding cars and limousines. There is always a spare car, a service vehicle (for a flat tyre or minor repair) and driver on-call (two drivers on busy Saturday afternoons) to respond if an issue if one arrises. Whilst the reserve car may not match what you hired in style or size our mission is to enable the continuance of your day with the minimum of disruption. For Swan Valley and Perth city based weddings we can usually have a car replaced within 15 – 30 minutes.
For weddings further afield in Rockingham, Mandurah, York or Yanchep for instance, the travel time is significant. While we will respond, we can not provide a continuance of service if a major incident occurs. You will need your own Plan B on the day.
Most other businesses will book to the vehicle capacity. I know because they often ring us when they have an incident because they know we have a spare car and driver. Sometimes we can help them, sometimes not. Certainly not at the expense of supporting our cars.
One thing you won’t realise until it happens is that many other businesses will not offer an alternative is something goes wrong. ‘The car you booked has a clutch problem, I’m sorry but we cannot help at your wedding next week / tomorrow / today’ is not what you need to hear. Small owner-is-also-a-driver businesses not only don’t have a back-up, if they are driving your wedding and another of their cars is in an incident, they are trying to solve that while disrupting your wedding. It is a real lose-lose situation to find your self in.
Belle’s ‘Plan A’
Belle Classic Limousines runs a proactive maintenance schedule for all vehicles to ensure the optimum mechanical condition of our wedding cars and limousines.
Our wedding cars and limousines are regularly serviced by brand specialist mechanics. Our Rolls Royce serviceman is a third generation Rolls Royce technician. Our Jaguar specialist did his apprenticeship on Jaguar Mk5 cars and knows the cars well.
Each week the cars are visually inspected along with checking fluid levels and we refuel each car before your wedding hire. In the great majority of bookings your limousines will perform faultlessly.
We assist with over 600 weddings each year involving over 2400 seperate vehicle transfers.
Having said that it needs to be noted that both the vintage wedding cars and modern limousines are just cars. They are made from a large number of serviceable components with a life span ranging from twelve months through to decades. In most cases a wear part shows a sign of fatigue before failure which leads to it being replaced before it impedes the function of the vehicle. Occasionally a part may fail without notice. Alternators, coils, belts, hoses, and electronic sensors are common parts that can lead to an unexpected breakdown. Even a puncture will lead to a long delay in a limousine service.
In eight years we have experienced five tyre punctures; three burst radiator hoses; two fan belt failures; hit two kangaroos (only minor bumps that didn’t injure the kangaroos); two alternator, one coil and three battery failures; one broken stub axel; one broken suspension pin; several sensor, relay and switch failures; and have had two minor (not at fault) traffic accidents. Only a few of these incidents actually interrupted the wedding afternoon. The point is it can happen so a ‘plan B’ is worth considering just in case your wedding day is the one in a thousand when something does goes wrong.
What happens when a vehicle cannot complete a job or a booked car cannot be used due to repair work being performed is one of the key differences between various limousine businesses in Perth.
What happens when a wedding car is taken out of service due to repairs?
On most days the replacement of a modern limousine or chauffeur car can be found from the network of similar businesses so finding a suitable limo is usually straight forward. This is not necessarily the case on peak wedding days when every hire car in Perth is likely to be booked. That’s when you most benefit from using a business that keeps its own reserve vehicles.
Couples who hire a vintage wedding car do so to create a special theme for their wedding day. A modern car as a replacement doesn’t fit the theme or expectations of the client. Belle Classic Limousines keeps a spare classic wedding car for back-up service on all wedding days. On the rare occasions that a vehicle is out of service due to maintenance, the replacement vehicle will usually be of a similar style to that originally booked.
What happens if a vehicle cannot complete a job?
Belle Classic Limousines
As noted earlier, we have a spare vehicle and driver on call during all peak hire times.
In most cases, if a car malfunctions during a job, your vehicle will be replaced by a substitute within 15 – 25 minutes (for Swan Valley and Perth city charters) so your day has a minimal disruption. In some cases, a flat tyre for example, your car will be swapped back into service if the problem can be quickly repaired.
Other business do not provide this back-up service. Smaller businesses do not hold the staff or vehicles to substitute for a broken down vehicle. Often they are owner driven cars, so the operator will be looking after his broken down car while the client is trying to organise alternate transport in the middle of a wedding.
Other businesses often book their vehicles to capacity (putting earnings before service) with no contingency plan in place for a break down on the busiest wedding days. We know, they call us when they break down.
Reliability of modern limos versus classic wedding cars
When well serviced both are reliable forms of wedding transport. Different things cause problems when things go wrong.
Modern cars and limos have a large computer managed engine and entertainment system. Electrical problems related to alternators, sensors and overloaded circuits can stop a limo without warning. Air-conditioning systems are a common failure.
Classic cars have a simpler engine management system which will often continue running even with minor issues. When something major does require maintenance limited parts availability may mean the car is out of service for several weeks.
Belle Classic has a large collection of reconditioned classic car parts ready to service its vehicles, spare engines, transmissions, radiators, starter motors and differentials. Major issues that may take other businesses months or longer to repair can in most cases be repaired and the car back on the road within one or two weeks. Trust Belle Classic to provide the wedding car you originally booked.
One Daimler business had a vehicle off the road for over six months replacing an engine, another Bentley business waited two years for a replacement head (the car is still not in use). Most other classic wedding car businesses have a very limited spare parts register and do not start looking for parts until something breaks.