Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How To Choose A Wedding Limousine Service

Filed under: Limousines,Wedding Tips — Larry James @ 7:45 am

Many people use a limousine service for their wedding. If you have the budget, consider using a limousine rental. This takes the load off of who is going to drive who where. Plans change at the last minute and now you have to scramble. But with a limousine service, the plans are not going to change. They will pick up anyone you want and take them anywhere they need to go.

limo2Here in Florida the rates are competitive and unless they offer coupons, or discounts on multiple cars. Most services charge 20% gratuity for the driver up front, so be sure you are getting quality before you sign. The biggest complaint about limousine services is the “no show”, or late show. When you spend money, you want a professional who knows where they are going. Why do no shows happen? Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know why. They didn’t forget, everything is written down. They know where they have to be. They over booked on your date or at the last minute needed your limo for a bigger more profitable job, or else they would be there. Airport limo companies are not good to use for weddings as their schedules are too hectic, and there’s too many last minute changes in flights and travel plans. You are much better off with a company whose specialty is weddings. The wedding limo is scheduled for you, and cannot change.

When To start Looking For A Limousine Service

A good time is 3-8 months before the wedding. We gave a deposit 7 months in advance because we chose an Excalibur and a Rolls Royce Limo, and wanted to be certain they were available. If you are using a standard limo, then 3-6 months in advance is fine. Allow 1 week to call and interview all the limousine services, and reserve one Saturday to inspect the operation of 3-5 good candidates.

Ask people you know who were recently married.

They can recommend the limousine service they used if they were happy. They can also warn you about companies they rejected as well. Also, ask your photographer. Studios know who shows up on time and who does not. In the wedding industry vendors know each other. Another source is the yellow pages. Try to pick only the companies who specialize in weddings.

Visit the limousine company and view their cars.

You must make sure the cars are kept in good condition. If the are in bad shape, you can bet that they’ll break down on the way to your wedding. If you plan to use a Rolls Royce, Excalibur, or other unique car, make an appointment with the limousine company at a time when you can see the car. This is usually early on Saturday and Sunday mornings before they leave for a wedding. You want to make sure the car you are going to pay top dollar for is in good condition. Believe it or not, many old fashioned Rolls Royce limousines are in sad shape, because they are too old. The average life of a limo is only about 3 years due to mileage. Some of the fancier old fashioned limousines can no longer be repaired for rips in the seating, or have other parts replaced, so you want to ensure you are paying for a car that is in good shape.

If you just want plain Lincoln type limousines, they all look the same. But also ask to see the premium cars listed in their ad and see if they really own it and is it all they touted it to be. One company advertised what I call a “gimmick limousine” with an extra wide “Bridal Door”, to allow the bride with a wide dress to easily pass through the door. But a friend checked it out and reported that the car was in terrible shape. So don’t just get sucked in by gimmick limousines with the beds and tubs in the back, check them out first. Don’t sign the contract for a premium limo unless you have seen it, and sat in it first. This is why you must visit the limousine service to inspect their cars.

Consumer Alert: Rolls Royce Limousines

While shopping around you’ll notice many companies in the yellow pages that claim they have have Rolls Royce or Excalibur limos. We discovered that many do NOT own the limousine, they contract it out from another source. In fact, most companies only have standard Lincolns and contract out the Rolls or Excalibur, while claiming in their ad that they have the car. They are just acting as brokers. If you want a Rolls or Excalibur, do like us and avoid dealing with these people. If they don’t own the car, they have no control over whether it will show up or not. This is a major root cause of limousines not showing up. Avoid the middleman and go right to the source. Suppose you sign a contract for a Rolls Royce. The day of your wedding Elton John flies into town for a concert and needs that Rolls Royce. Who do you think will get it? You think you will, because you signed a contract? Don’t be so naive!

You Must Have A Clear, Concise, Written Contract!

If you end up in court disputing your limo driver, the judge will say is "Where is your contract?" Make certain there is a written contract and that everything you expect of them is in writing. If they refuse or give you nothing but a bunch of verbal claims, get up and leave. Do you think they will remember 10 months from now what they promised you? A written contract will help them remember. You want the contract to state the type of limousine, how many it seats, and what package you chose. The contract must also state how long you have the limousine for. This is very important. You don't want the driver holding out his hand for more money when you least expect it.

The contract must also state what the overtime rate is for each vehicle. If they refuse to do this for you, get up an leave. Any reputable business would have this information on a standard contract without question. The contract should also list who your driver will be. Now is the time to pin them down. Then you have a basis for a claim later. If you interviewed any drivers that you liked, then have their names placed on the contract. The contract should show how much deposit you gave, and how much is owed. Most usually require payment in full 2 weeks before the wedding.

limoOne week before the wedding, call to confirm the date and time.

Fax a precise set of directions to the limousine service, on how to get to your house, reception, church, etc. Any maps or mapquest printouts you include will be helpful. It helps even more to type the instructions, so the driver can't show up late and say you gave sloppy instructions. Get the driver's cellular and pager numbers also. They usually call you from the limo when they are on the way to get you.

Keep a copy of the map and directions with you on the wedding day.
You may need to give them to the driver if the limo company sends a different driver at the last minute and you don't want to hear "so where are we going?" from the driver. Just give them the map!

Questions to ask the Limousine Company:

How many cars are in their fleet? Some services only have a few cars, but book several weddings, and contract out cars from other agencies. Our limousine service did 17 weddings the day we got married and had to contract out extra cars! But we had a contract stating the owner was our driver, and that we got their cars, so we were pretty much guaranteed he would show up. Usually the owners will be more reliable as their reputation is at stake.

Ask them how much deposit they require. The company we used only required a $20 deposit.

Ask for a flyer that shows prices in writing. You don't want them making up inflated prices on the fly. You want a rate that is fair. Do they have a flyer with photos of their cars? If they don't have it written down on a flyer, chances are they are unscrupulous, you should scratch them off your list, and move on to the next limousine company.

Can you bring your own champagne? The champagne they give you is barely useful for cleaning your toilet. You'll want to bring your own maybe water for your ride, you will be thirsty after the ceremony. They provide the glasses.

Have them describe the worst wedding situations they have been in, and how they handled it.

How much is the overtime rate? Some weddings could run longer than expected, and you want to know how much the overtime rate is per vehicle that you use. You want no surprises. This is a huge source of problems for many newlyweds.

Who will be your driver? We found the owner to be a very nice gentleman and his name went on the contract to drive our Rolls. His son’s name went on the contract to drive the Excalibur. Try to get the owner or their family members to be your driver. Family members have a reputation. Always try to get the owner!

If you cancel, can you get your deposit back? Most companies will not refund deposits, so choose one with a low deposit, and be certain before you signthat this is the company you want. Don’t be a moron, give a deposit, then research limo companies. The correct order is Research, Choose, Deposit. Avoid limousine companies that charge high deposits. The company we chose however, will allow you to apply the deposit toward their services within one year. Luckily, they only require a $20 deposit. There is no reason for any limousine company to require 50% deposit.

Copyright © 1996-2013 ConsumerNet, Inc. Reprinted with permission. Visit their Website at: http://www.BridalTips.com/

Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 455 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

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