Season’s End

The main wedding season is now over for the year, and after the current flurry of October weddings, we only have a handful left until the New Year. This will be the end of our second year, having been asked to do our first wedding in June 2016.

Thankfully, we’re even more hooked on enjoying what we’ve chosen to do, and for us, each wedding we’ve been lucky to be involved in has been unique and enjoyable. No two weddings are ever the same, as obviously there are different people each time, in different parts of the region and many different venues. They’ve varied from the relaxed and casual to the more dressy and formal.

 

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Once again, we’ve been fortunate and have had lovely couples and shared some lovely moments with them. There’s been a good mix of ages, from very young to middle aged, and although they’ve been mostly Brides & Grooms, we’ve had two more same sex weddings, both of them with two Brides. We did have a male same sex couple booked for this year, but unfortunately for them, they had to cancel their wedding.

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There’s been quite a range of employment too among our Brides and Grooms, with them being Teachers, Factory Workers, Nurses, Care Workers, Doctors, Builders, Journalists, Scientists, and even a former GB athlete, and those are just the ones we know about!

We’ve covered the East Midlands pretty well this year, with weddings in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and also into Warwickshire and Staffordshire.  Betty’s fame spreads, and we’ve even had enquiries from Gloucestershire and South Wales, but these just aren’t practical for us to do. Some have been right on our doorstep and others a fair distance away. This weekend, one wedding has a record 50 minute drive between the ceremony and reception venues!

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The range of venues we’ve been to has been extensive – including Village Halls and Churches, Grand Cathedrals, former Miner’s Welfares, Register Offices, Pubs and Clubs, Castles, Private Houses, Hotels, County Cricket Grounds, and even a Tipi and a Zoo! We’ll never get bored!

Betty has performed well. Being an old lady there’s always work to be done on her and improvements to be made, and she’s now well known at our local garage. These London Taxis are built to last though, and with all the TLC she’s now getting, there’s no reason why she won’t keep going for years. She’s now a film star too, having featured in a Training Video for the Taxi Industry. As the above diverse mix of people and places she’s been involved with shows, she’s pretty egalitarian and can’t be pigeon holed into any particular sector.

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The London connection has played its part. We’ve had quite a few weddings where either those involved were originally from London and now live in the area, or are from the area, but now live and work in London, and are coming back to the family to get married. We’ve also worked on a couple of weddings with an old London Bus.

Thankfully, there have been almost no problems (touches wood!) A Bridesmaid’s dress splitting needing last minute repairs is about the only drama so far, and we’ve only had to use our umbrellas once! It’s raining hard as I write though, and we’ve a wedding tomorrow and the next day…

We’ve no regrets at all about starting this venture, and the old saying often attributed to Confucius, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”, is very true!

For more information about Betty, please visit here

Getting to know you, East Midlands

Although Jules, my wife and business partner in White Taxi Weddings is a Derbyshire girl, I’m still a bit of a newcomer, having lived here for just five years.  Having been born and raised in the Cotswolds, and then lived for a long time in rural and scenic Shropshire, I could have been hard to please. One of the joys though of running a wedding car hire business, is that you get to know the area and see lots of places you might not otherwise get to visit, and I have to say the East Midlands can certainly hold its own for natural beauty.

Yes, it has its wonderful industrial heritage, from coal mining, and railways to the world conquering lace industry, but rural East Midlands is an ongoing voyage of discovery to me and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

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As far as weddings go, we haven’t quite got into the Peak District yet, but the rolling countryside of North West Leicestershire in Spring takes some beating. One of the most pleasant journeys I’ve had so far was taking a Bride from Sutton Bonington to a church in the delightful market town of Ashby de la Zouch, on country roads on a sunny April day, and then the hardship of having to take her and her new Husband back again.

 

TutburyThe architecture of wedding venues varies so much too, from new and old hotels, and village halls and private homes, and we’ve weddings coming up in a couple of Castles, at Tutbury and Belvoir, the latter being just a couple of days before Christmas. We’ve also got a church wedding in Nottingham with a photo stop at Nottingham Castle.

Notts council houseIn terms of grandness, Nottingham Council House is right up there, inside and out, and we’ve done a couple of weddings there so far. We just had to get the hang of the driving and parking restrictions around it!

 

One of the nation’s great rivers, The Trent, is right on our doorstep at our home in Long Eaton, and we’ve been involved with a few weddings at various venues along its course in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, including one coming up at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. If it’s a match day, I could be persuaded to stay…

Trent Bridge

So, East Midlands, I’m starting to get to know you well, but fortunately there’s still so much more to discover. So come on Brides & Grooms – hit us with your venues and locations!

To find out more about our wedding car hire services, please visit us at www.whitetaxiweddings.com

And the Oscar goes to…

In our limited experience, no two weddings are the same, as in each instance there are always different people, different venues, different budgets even, and each couple puts a different stamp on their special day. So each wedding is a new experience for us.

Recently, though, we had a completely new and unexpected experience, courtesy of a friend of ours, Disability Awareness Consultant Richard Shakespeare. Last year, Richard allowed us to use an article of his in this blog post Will you marry me. The article was about access to wedding cars for people with a disability.

Vidshoot2As a result of that contact, Richard asked if we’d like to be involved in a video he was creating. Recent Government legislation, means that all Taxi and Private Hire drivers in England and Wales, have to undergo Disability Awareness Training,  and Richard intends to use the video as a module in the Training Course he is creating to meet this need. We are always happy to help Richard, plus it gives us a chance to further show Betty off, even if out of context!

A small industrial unit was hired, and Richard, Betty and Terry Simmons, from eLearning Plus, who was in charge of the production of the video, met on a Monday morning to create the masterpiece! Hollywood, it wasn’t! There was no magnificent set, but by clever use of close ups, Terry made the background irrelevant, with the focus being on the process and the equipment.

The purpose of the video, and hence Betty’s involvement, was to show in specific terms for vidshoot3fellow TX Taxi drivers, and in general terms for drivers of all other Private Hire Cars, the basics of aiding people with varying degrees of disability, into and out of the Taxi. We’ve heard first hand from Richard, the negative experiences people with disabilities have when using Taxis, and hopefully this training will address that.

Knowing Richard, and with Terry’s filming and editing skills, we’re sure the video will be of great use and be an essential part of his Training package.

I’m ready for my close up Mr De Mille!

Credits:

eLearning Plus

Richard Shakespeare

White Taxi Weddings

Our Wedding Timeline

Three quarters of couples getting married, are marrying for the first time, and if that includes you, arranging a wedding is a whole new experience and possibly scaring the life out of you! what-plan

Each wedding supplier will have their own way of doing things, but there is usually an order to things, and we thought it would be helpful, to put together a timeline of what happens when you book our wedding car.

 There are two separate phases – what happens before the wedding day, and what happens on the day itself.

Before the day.

 mapDuring the booking process, we will have got from you all that we need to know about venues and the people involved. The small details, such as ribbon colours, drinks, music etc., can be decided on later. Once the booking is confirmed and the deposit paid, nothing needs to happen until a week or two before the date, when we will do a dry run of the whole route. This gives us the timings we need, and also we’ll be looking for any possible problems that could arise on the day, such as traffic delays from football matches or similar large events. We’ll talk to someone at the wedding venue about the best place to pull up, plus anything else that’s relevant.We will then feedback to you the time we would want to leave, to get you to the venue on time.

Usually the day before the wedding, we will make sure the car is valeted and in the best condition for you, plus checking fuel levels and tyre pressures.

The Wedding Day.

Our aim is to provide our service as promised, but we also want to make this part of your day less stressful and more enjoyable. We often get feedback like this which means we’re probably doing something right!keep-calm2

“Andrew made everything so stress free…”  

“Nothing was too much trouble…”  

“Hassle free, friendly, professional service.”  

“…you made our day even more perfect!” 

 

 

The car will be checked again to make sure all is ok. Usually there’s something to do again, such as clearing windows. We then dress the car with ribbons, bows and flowers.

Having previously agreed the times with you, we’ll arrive about ten minutes before the agreed time, and having made you aware of our presence by popping a card through the letterbox, (subtle, eh?) we wait quietly until you’re ready to leave. We don’t believe there’s anything to be gained by adding to whatever stress levels already exist in the house, by behaving like an idiot, revving the engine or honking the horn!

Once you’re inside the car, you can just relax (if possible) until we arrive at the ceremony venue. Our rear cab gives you privacy, which is useful if you have last minute things to say to whoever’s travelling with you! Having already checked it out, we will drop you off at exactly the right place, at the right time, so that you are ready to go ahead with your marriage.

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From that point on, it depends what service we’re providing for you. If you’ve chosen for us to be around after the ceremony, so you have photographs of you both with the car, we will do what we can to assist your photographer to get the photos they want for you.

If we’re taking you on somewhere for a reception, we will be ready to move when you are – we don’t impose our agenda on to you. Sometimes, couples want to leave the ceremony venue first so that their guests can see them off, and then have those guests waiting for them when they arrive at the reception. In this case, we will already have arranged a detour, possibly with a drinks ‘time out’ with you, to take up this time.

Once we arrive at the reception venue, we will either leave after you’ve entered, or wait if your photographer needs the car in more photos before the reception.

That’s how it works. It’s simple to us as we know what we’re doing, and once you’ve decided we’re the wedding car supplier you want, it should be simple for you too!

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To find out more about us, please visit www.whitetaxiweddings.com

2016 and all that!

A time for reflection at the end of our first year of providing Wedding Car Hire to Brides & Grooms in the East Midlands.

I want to say that it’s gone better than expected, but as we didn’t know what to expect, that wouldn’t make sense. Overall we’re happy with the number of bookings we’ve had, not only for 2017/2018, but also for this year, which really was unexpected!

What is certain is that it’s met our expectations in respect of the joy and pleasure we’ve had from helping couples on their special day, and it’s true to say that we’ve met some really lovely people.

Betty has proved to be very popular and has lived up to her billing as being both different and practical. It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed driving, but getting behind her wheel has brought that pleasure back in no small way. She’s just fun! mr-and-mrs-taylor-113

She’s been rock solid reliable, which is what she was built to be, and has just needed some tweaking and tinkering along the way to keep her up to scratch.

So no dramas as far as Betty’s concerned but the same can’t be said about things out of our control. There have been a few moments along the way, including:

A Bride who arrived at the Church and realised she’d left her bouquet at home. I was made aware of this by the sight of a Bridesmaid running back to me and asking to be taken back to the house to pick it up. It’s fair to say that that journey was less sedate than the initial one! Fortunately, the distance wasn’t great, so nobody was kept waiting for too long.

On another occasion, a Bridesmaid split her dress getting into the car which was waiting to take them. Fortunately the Mother of the Bride was handy with needle and thread, but it did take a good twenty minutes to fix. Meanwhile the Bride and her Father were sitting in the back of Betty and I have to say I’ve never seen anyone so calm under the circumstances. The odd glass of bubbly being brought out to them probably helped but it was all pretty chilled in the back, which almost certainly wasn’t the case in the house!

 

timing-is-everythingI’m a stickler for punctuality and for each wedding I’ve arrived at least ten minutes before the designated leaving time. My normal process is to pop a card through the door, then wait outside with the engine running until everyone’s ready. I’m sure pressing doorbells or honking the horn would only add to whatever stress is already going on inside! So I was a bit taken aback to arrive to pick up one Bride in Ilkeston, only to find her and her Father standing outside the house on the pavement, as if they were waiting for a bus! Naturally, we arrived at the Register Office early, only to find that the preceding wedding hadn’t even started, and their wedding party was still outside waiting to go in. We had to park up in a lay-by and wait for 30 minutes!

And then there was my “Inbetweeners” moment…  I’d collected the Bride and her Father, in Ilkeston again, and was leaving for the Register Office and had to feed into a large, busy roundabout. I was waiting for a suitable gap to slot into and spotted one and got into it. It was only after we’d all left the roundabout that I became aware that I’d slotted into a funeral cortege. For those who’ve seen the Inbetweeners episode, this was identical -a Hearse, then a mourners car, then a Bridal car with ribbons and bows, as opposed to the little yellow Fiat, followed by another car full of mourners. The funeral cars were travelling at under the prevailing speed limits, so I thought I can pull out and overtake pretty soon, but oncoming traffic made that impossible. About ten minutes later, they all pulled into the Crematorium, but it was an uncomfortable ten minutes, for me at least!

No doubt in the coming years, there will be more incidents, but more joy and pleasure too, and we can’t wait to be a part of it!

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For more information about our services, please visit Our Website here

The day I nearly robbed a Bank!

Well, our first wedding has come and gone and it was a great experience! The Bride and Groom, Carla and Ryan, looked fabulous and Betty played her part in the proceedings.

 

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Photo courtesy of David Hector Photos

Being involved in someone else’s wedding was as good as I thought it would be, and our role was to get the Groom and his party to the wedding venue on time. The journey from the pick up point to the venue was about 20 minutes, so as wedding suppliers’ tasks go, it was pretty straightforward.

However, I was suddenly aware of how important our various services are, and the responsibility we all have, to play our part in making this the best day of the Bride and Groom’s lives! And it’s no little responsibility in truth, because screwing up is not an option!

The realisation of this, took me back several decades to another time when I was driving another vehicle with a very important cargo, and I have to say I nearly screwed up! To be exact, I did screw up, but managed to resolve the situation.

I was 18 or 19 years old and had just returned to live in the Cotswold village where I’d grown up, and was working in the office of the local builder. One of their projects at the time, was converting a building in a nearby village into a Bank, to replace the old and no longer suitable building.

When the conversion was finished, the Builder asked me if I’d like to do a little driving job on the coming Saturday morning, which considering I’d get paid for it, I readily agreed to. It turned out that the little driving job was to move all of the Bank’s cash deposits from the old Bank to the new one! I’ve no idea how much it was but at a time before debit cards and electronic transfers, it must have been a lot!

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I’ve learned in recent years, from the son of the Policeman in charge of the operation, that the whole process was to be kept as quiet and as low key as possible, which was why a humble builder’s van and not a secure armoured vehicle was being used. I’ve also since heard from someone who was working at the Bank at the time, that most of the staff were unaware of the process beforehand.

I duly turned up at the old Bank at  the appointed time, and there were very few people around, just enough to load the cash boxes into my van. There was a police car sitting in a nearby street keeping watch, but nothing really to indicate what we were up to.

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Now readers, it came time for my starring role! A plain clothed Policeman got in the van beside me and indicated it was time to move off and that the police car would follow. The ‘journey’ was all of 200 yards from the old Bank to the new one, so not a lot of time for things to go wrong, you’d think! I knew where the Bank was and exactly where I had to pull up, but for some reason, my brain must have disengaged because I just drove straight past the Bank  and was heading who knows where! I really, really wasn’t doing a runner with the spoils, I was just a half soaked teenager, probably with thoughts on the evening’s trip to Cheltenham and the usual night at the Pictures! I could sense a slight unease in the seat next to me, and then a sharp retort of ‘it was back there!’ Somewhat embarrassed, I stopped, turned the van around and slunk back to where I should have been! I think it was a good job it happened in a different era, as I’m sure reactions would be slightly different nowadays!

In light of this, I think I did quite well to get the Groom and co to the wedding without mishap, don’t you?

UPDATE – April 2017

I’ve recently heard that this rural Branch is set to close. Should I offer my services again?

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Will you marry me?

I Recently met with Richard Shakespeare, Disability Consultant, Business Owner and Training expert at Richard Shakespeare Disability Consultants Limited. We met so that Richard could check out our London Taxi Wedding Car, to see if it was suitable for use as a wedding car for people with disabilities, or limited mobility.

He then wrote an article for his LinkedIn page, and he’s agreed that we can share his article here:

Richard“Without doubt one of the biggest questions you can ever ask or be asked is “Will you marry me”

Recently Andy Poole who runs White Taxi Weddings near Derby contacted me. Andy was in the process of starting a wedding car hire business, this in itself is not especially unusual but, his question did make me think. Using a former London Taxi Andy and his wife Jules wanted to help make a wedding day all the more special. Andy wanted to know if I was aware of any accessible wedding vehicles or if I thought there might be demand for one.

According to a leading website the wedding industry is worth billions of pounds to the UK each year and over 50% of us would consider hiring some form of transport for the big day.* The way in which we think about weddings, marriage and partnerships has changed in recent years. Only this week I read an article via the Daily Mail Online about another Derby based business who will be hosting the first ‘social media wedding’ in the UK. With over 40% of us thought to use some form of social media in planning our wedding, it is fair to say that the team at Status Social could really be onto something.

Everybody dreams of having the perfect day surrounded by friends and family as you start your journey with the person of your dreams. The more I thought about Andy’s question the more intrigued I became. I could see how I would plan the wedding, what kind of suit I would like and could even come up with ideas for the all-important honeymoon but, I couldn’t decide what I would do for transportation on the big day!

Andy has purchased a 1997 London Taxi and had it very tastefully refurbished, the vehicle still has all the elegance you would expect from a wedding car but is just something that bit different. “Betty” as Andy affectionately calls her is equipped with a range of ramps and grab handles which would make it easier for a person with a disability to get in and out of. If you need to use a wheelchair during your special day then this vehicle could be a viable option for you or for other people wanting to enjoy the occasion with you.

I recently met with Andy to take a look at his vehicle for myself and to explore just how accessible it might be if I were to be planning a wedding. I met Andy on a gloriously sunny day, the ideal day for a wedding in fact.

Upon entering the car for the first time the first thing that struck me was just how nice the car looked. Yes, it did of course look like a taxi but then that is part of the charm. Adding a beautiful red leather interior and a few other finishing touches Andy and his wife really have created something really quite remarkable.

Ramp3To find out more about White Taxi Weddings please visit the website by clicking here. Or if you fancy a social media wedding you can contact Status Social by visiting the website.

*Figures courtesy of the 2015 Wedding Report. http://www.confetti.co.uk/wedding-report

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