When it comes to making your wedding car stand out, there's no doubt that ribbons and bows make a stunning addition. Even if you've hired a vehicle already bound to turn heads, adding ribbons ensures everyone you pass on the road notices your beautiful wedding transport.
But where does the tradition of wedding car ribbons come from, and how can you ensure that you make the most impact with yours?
The first wedding car ever recorded was in 1903, in Weston-super-Mare, and it did not boast ribbons or any other type of decoration. However, as the wedding industry grew over time, so did the popularity of ribbon decorations on cars.
The origin of the ribbons was not, as commonly perceived, to indicate that a couple had just been married. That honour was usually demonstrated by attaching cans to the back of the car with messages like 'Just Married' written on them.
Instead, the wedding car ribbon tradition can be traced back to the "Bedding Ceremony" dating back centuries, when martial beds were covered with ribbons and flowers by close friends and family of the couple before the marriage was consummated. That said, evidence is pretty scant regarding this link to former traditions.
Today, wedding car ribbons are more for decorative purposes than ceremonial ones. However, they serve to let other road users know that a wedding is in progress and can also denote a specific route or destination if your guests know the car's whereabouts in advance.
As for choosing the colour of your ribbon, white is the primary colour for bridal car ribbons (symbolising purity). However, it's perfectly acceptable to choose a different shade entirely if you so wish. Popular shades for modern weddings include Cadbury purple, lilac, green, ivory and peach.
Of course, you've got plenty of choices when decorating your wedding vehicle with ribbons, so let's quickly walk you through how to get the most out of these accessories.
One of the first questions you might well have is whether or not you can expect wedding car ribbons to come as part of your wedding car hire package. The good news is, most reputable companies will include these in the hire price as standard; some even offer the option to add coloured ribbons free of charge. These will usually be arranged in the traditional V-Shape style across the bonnet.
The advantage here is that you don't have to worry so much about the positioning of your bows or ribbon bands because the professionals will take care of that for you.
You can, of course, choose to buy your own supply of wedding car ribbons and bows to customise your car yourself if you wish. Just make sure you have permission to do so from your wedding car supplier before doing so. It is always best to ensure these are received by the driver 'well before' the big day as you can imagine trying to fix these onto the car when it arrives at your collection address and it happens to be pouring of rain or blowing a gale, everyone and everything will get soaking wet, and what happens if you did not buy the correct length. Not a good start to the day!
There's no right or wrong answer when picking the colour for your wedding car ribbons. However, you should be aware that traditionally white is the favoured option for weddings, closely followed by ivory.
Given that these are also the two most popular shades for wedding cars, it makes sense to opt for white ribbons for ivory wedding cars and ivory ribbons for white wedding cars to make them contrast more sharply against the exterior of your car.
Of course, you can opt for a much bolder colour scheme. You could have the ribbons match the colour of the groom's tie, the bride's floral bouquet, or their dress colour; you could even have a two-tone effect with contrasting colours on either bow or ribbon band and bonnet stripes.
It's traditional to also adorn your bridal car with bows on the bonnet and door handles. However, it's not always possible, especially with ultra-modern cars, such as Jaguars and Bentleys, which don't have handles at all. Vintage vehicles also have old-fashioned handle mechanisms that prevent the use of bows. Be careful you do not overdo the decoration as it can look quite messy, sometimes the simplest is the most elegant.
Regarding the bonnet, most cars facilitate the placement of bows. However, some can't due to a lack of somewhere to affix them, such as Teslas.
An increasingly popular trend for weddings is to include personalised ribbon strips on your wedding car. Think "Just Married" on a Jaguar, "Mr & Mrs" on a Rolls Royce, and so on. You can add the date, place, and even a picture of the bride and groom to your customised ribbon strip, which will make a lovely little keepsake of the occasion.
These can easily be ordered online from stores such as Etsy or eBay and don't cost much either - usually around £20-£40 per 10 metres of printed ribbon - although larger quantities are often cheaper per unit.
Ideally, you'll need at least six metres of ribbon per wedding car and ideally the width should be two inches, but your requirements will depend on the car you choose and the positioning of the bows/ribbon bands. For instance, cars with extended bonnets will need more material than those without, so if you're considering a convertible sports car for your nuptials, make sure you order sufficient length to cover the often long nose of the car.
Your best bet is to always check with the wedding car hire supplier as to the length of the vehicle you're hiring and how the bows and ribbons are to be placed before ordering your ribbons.
You should always buy ribbons that are waterproof, given the British weather. You never know when that sudden shower may strike. You don't want the colour of the ribbons to run onto the car or have your little keepsakes partially destroyed by the rain.
For that reason, polypropylene ribbons are the most popular choice for wedding car decoration. That said, some suppliers will use more expensive silk ribbons instead, as they are much softer and gentler on paintwork than polypropylene ones. The only issue here is that if they get wet they tend to get heavier and sag over the car bonnet and do not look quite so nice.
Again, before ordering your own, check with the wedding car supplier you're using to see what they recommend.
As this might be your first (hopefully last) marriage, you might not be familiar with which wedding cars traditionally have ribbons and/or bows attached. So let's run you through what to expect.
Bridal cars tend to have the traditional V-Shape ribbons and a single bow in a prominent positions. Any other cars in the travelling party party should not really have ribbons or bows as these are usually reserved for the main bridal car and the bridesmaid's car/s.
There are no set rules about the number of cars that can/cannot be decorated with ribbons. While cars for the bride are traditionally decorated with them, it's not unusual for bridesmaids' vehicles to be decorated too - especially if they're travelling in convoy and there's a colour theme to the day's proceedings.
You can even have a whole fleet making its way to the venue decorated for the occasion - making it a natural spectacle for passersby and guests.
If you opt for polypropylene ribbon for your wedding vehicles, you can decorate several cars simultaneously with one full roll and save on costs.
Previously, tradition dictated that grooms would not decorate their cars with ribbons or bows on their wedding day. However, increasingly more grooms are opting to adorn their vehicles too - either with their own personalised wedding car ribbons or the traditional ones used on the bridal vehicles, albeit on a smaller scale.
These days it's totally up to the groom to decide. If they feel decorating their car with ribbons would detract attention from the bride, they don't have to do it. Similarly, if the groom feels his car is too important to get bogged down in the details of tying those fiddly little bow-ties, he doesn't have to. It's entirely up to him and his groomsmen.
Of course, you'll be itching to get stuck into tying those pretty little bow-ties onto your car as soon as the big day arrives. However, it's worth noting that there are a couple of different methods you can use to attach them to your vehicle, largely depending on whether you're making a bow or attaching ribbons directly onto your car.
Cut your ribbons to six-metre lengths
Find the middle and attach it to the car’s Radiator Grill. (For Mercedes and Bentley, you can attach it to the car’s logo/mascot at the front of the bonnet.
Feed each side into the car’s interior through the doors and attach the end of the ribbons to your car’s sun visor.
The easiest way is to purchase pull-up bows. For these decorations, all you have to do is pull on a piece of string to make the bow before attaching it to the front radiator grill or bonnet of the car.
Of course, you can also attach ribbons and bow decorations to your wing mirrors and door handles. View the photos below demonstrating a few ways this can be done.
Wedding car ribbons are an excellent way to make your wedding vehicles stand out from the rest of the guests' cars at the ceremony. Not only will they save you time and effort, but they'll also add a touch of elegance and style to your special day.
The only other word of advice we can offer would be not to overdo the decorations. You don't necessarily have to cover every inch of your vehicle with ribbon, just concentrate on the main areas such as the front grille and bonnet. Sometimes, a simple V-Shape decoration across the bonnet is all that's needed.
No matter your preferred styling when it comes to ribbons, make sure you source your perfect wedding car from Premier Carriage. We have hundreds of vehicles for you to choose from, ranging from modern Rolls Royces to retro VW campervans and everything in between!