There’s no doubt that being a wedding car chauffeur for one of the most important days of your passenger’s lives can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be nerve racking, very stressful, sometimes comical, sometimes embarrassing, and nearly always emotional. As a Premier Carriage Chauffeur of Classic Rolls-Royce Wedding Cars for well over twenty years I have had the pleasure of experiencing it all. From the nobility, to the famous, nervous, happy, and the tearful.
Then there’s the weddings you’ll never forget such as the sight-impaired bride walking down the aisle with her Labrador guide dog, or the bride with a huge dirty mark on her white wedding gown. Emotions are part and parcel of almost every wedding but as a professional you must always keep these in check. It’s no good having a chauffeur that bursts into tears! You must remain professional and supportive to your passengers at all times.
So let’s take a look at the comical side of the job. I will share one of these tales with you, but no names.
I’ll take you back almost 25 years to one of my first ever bookings as a chauffeur. The address in question was in Hampshire, so it didn’t take me long to arrive. Once I had pulled up outside the home, I knocked on the door and took a few steps back toward the car. The door swung open almost immediately and I was met with a very enthusiastic brother of the Bride. He immediately insisted that I come inside to wait for the bride.
Now, even though I hadn’t been in the industry for very long, I knew that you were supposed to wait outside. Not only was it the professional thing to do, but it was an added layer of security for the £150,000 car I had arrived in. With that in mind, I made my excuses and very politely declined the offer, before returning to stand to attention outside the car in full uniform replete with hat and gloves.
A few moments later, the brother of the bride appeared from the front door once more and approached me. This time his demeanour was a little different. He was speaking in bizarre hushed tones and became even more insistent that in order to fulfil my duties I simply had to come inside. I knew this not to be the case, and beginning to slightly panic, I repeated my previous lines about remaining with the car and declined the offer to come inside once more.
As he trudged off back toward the house, all sorts of thoughts began to race through my head. Why was he so insistent that I should come in the house? I was beginning to worry at the thought of the brother of the bride saying I was ruining the whole experience for his sister.
Little did I know at the time that it would become apparent within the next few minutes why he was behaving in the manner he was.
A few minutes after he had made his second request, the brother came out of the house. Trying to hide my panic, I stood steadfastly by the car as if I had carried out thousands of wedding journeys previously, ready to be the utmost professional and ready with more courteous apologies. When the brother reached me his tone had mercifully changed, and he simply asked if the bride could come outside and take some photos with the Rolls-Royce and myself before setting off.
The relief must have been palpable. I could barely utter the words out to say that of course she could have some photos. I even made a slightly awkward joke about wondering why she would want a photo with an old curmudgeon like me. Fortunately, I was saved from embarrassment by the fact that he was already halfway back to the front door before I finished my audition for the local comedy club.
The door finally sprang open and what I saw will stay with me forever. In my short time as a chauffeur I had never seen anything like it, nor have I seen anything like it since. As the bride stepped out of the front door, it became apparent that she had chosen the worst wedding dress I had ever laid eyes on and also ill-fitting beyond description to the point that she could barely walk in it, shuffle was the much more appropriate term.
As she approached I smiled at the Bride and said good morning and that she looked stunning, as all true professionals would. The sad truth of it was that I was stunned by her appearance, but for all the wrong reasons. It was at this point that I began to take pity on her, this was perhaps a low-budget affair and maybe the dress was a hand-me-down. Either way I was determined to remain professional and support her in any way I could in my capacity as chauffeur.
We began to get into position for the first photo and the bride positioned herself right next to me and the brother was slowly taking his position on the other side of her. The photographer was getting into position when I heard a loud tearing noise. My stomach immediately dropped. Had the edge of the bonnet caught her dress and torn it? Had it somehow got caught in the front grill and now the only way to get it back out was to ruin the dress completely? Had she damaged the car? This day was going from bad to catastrophic and I almost couldn’t bring myself to look.
As I slowly turned to the left to pick up the pieces of my career as a professional chauffeur, I was greeted by a sight I’ll never forget. The dress was ruined all right. It was on the floor in its entirety and I found myself staring aghast at a bride that was completely without clothing save her bra, underwear and silk shoes. It was at this moment that the unmistakable sounds of camera shutters went off. Everyone except me immediately burst into laughter. I was in a state of utter shock and confusion, was this some kind of bad dream?
A few seconds later it finally dawned on me. I had been the subject of a wedding day prank.
The dress was a Velcro-backed homemade fake, and with one sharp pull by the brother the other side of her the whole thing came away. Today, somewhere in the Hampshire region, there’s a wedding album with a picture of a really shocked chauffeur with his mouth wide open, with horror etched on his face, looking at the bride with no clothes on. Looking back now, I think I had the last laugh by forcing her to perform her prank in plain view of the whole neighbourhood rather than in the privacy of her own home. Thankfully for her, the street was very quiet at the time.
After composing myself for a few seconds, the bride rushed back into the house before appearing a few minutes later in the most beautiful of wedding gowns. This time she really did look stunning (for all the right reasons), and I was very proud to drive this young lady to her wedding.
While weddings are always an emotional rollercoaster, I’m not sure that there were any emotions that I hadn’t experienced on that day! But as they say… it’s all part of the job.
Michael Keene – Founder of Premier Carriage