Wedding Horse Drawn Carriage

wedding carriageStep back in time and imagine when transport was powered by the elegance and grace of a horse. Where the roar of the engine would be a horse moving from a trot to a gallop. We are talking about the era of the horse-drawn carriage.

The wedding car is by far the most popular way in which the bride gets to the wedding venue. However if your looking for something different, a more eco-friendly alternative and something which will have many guests romanticising how you’ve captured the air of Pride and Prejudice then a Wedding Horse-drawn carriage could be your answer.

They are a real treat for horse lovers and ideal for hot summer days, but can be just as appealing if you choose to ride in a convertible which will give you the option of it being open or closed to the unpredictable British weather.

Choosing a Horse Drawn Carriage Company

horse carriageThere are many companies offering the service of a Wedding horse drawn carriage so how do you choose the right company to trot you to the church on time.

  • Are they available for your wedding date?
  • Do they only take one booking per day?
  • Are they fully insured?
  • Ask them for references, and then take it upon yourself to contact the referrees.
  • Ask if you can visit the horses at the stables and view the carriage for yourself. You will want to be confident in your own mind that the horse is calm and has a good temprement around strangers, and the horse is comfortable in the presence of traffic and crowds. You will want to see the horses are kept in good health and well groomed and the carriages are well maintained.
  • Ask if you can sit in the carriage in advance so you can experience how comfortable it will be.
  • Will the Master coachman and the driver/groom be suitably dressed in traditional livery or appropriately dressed for a wedding?
  • Are you required to pay a deposit on booking?
  • Is the deposit non-refundable?
  • How far in advance can you book?
  • When would you be required to pay the balance?
  • Have the company completed the following assessments: Although none of the above qualifications are essential to operate a Wedding Horse drawn carriage company the qualifications have been designed by The British Driving Society who work closely with Government to improve facilities, education and safety standards for all harness horse drivers, whether private or commercial, both on and off the public highway.
  • Ask whether you can meet and plan your requirements including the route in advance, and that an alternative route be planned in the event the original is not accessable on the day, to prevent any delay.
  • Will the coachman check the route with the horse and carriage before the wedding day?
  • Will the coachman be able to liase with the photographer and videographer on how best to capture the elegance of the bridal party along side the horse drawn carriage?
  • What provision is made if the driver or horse are unwell or the carriage is damaged on your wedding day? Will you be provided with a suitable alternative or issued with a refund?
  • Is the driver willing to take additional trips on the day. Bear in mind a horse travels on average 6 miles per hour. Many companies allow their horses to travel a maximium distance of between 6-8 miles in total. But remember if the horse has to do more than one journey i.e. Take the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride to the wedding venue followed by the bride and her father if the distance is considerable then you run the risk of the horse arriving sweating when the bride makes her big entrance. Not making for a good photo.
  • The brides entrance might also be subdued by the fact guests may have already seen the horse drawn carriage arrive with the bridesmaids and mother of the bride.

  • To prevent this you could

(a) provide the bridesmaids and mother of the bride with alternative transport to the wedding venue, after all its the bride and grooms special day so perhaps the luxury of driving in a horse drawn carriage should only be reserved for them

(b) ensure all the guests are in the wedding venue when the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride arrive at the venue, that way the guests won’t see the wedding carriage until the bride and her father arrive.

(c) if its a hot day and guests are millling around outside the venue then ask the Master coachman to drop the bridesmaids and mother of the bride off at the venue out of sight of the guests. This could be coordinated in advance with the wedding venue owners.

  • What is the maximium distance the horses are allowed to travel? (NB. Bear in mind the above point).
  • If you are booking a company which is some distance away from your wedding venue ask to see how the horse(s) and carriage are transported. After all you would expect the welfare of the horse(s) to be parimount to the company.
  • Do the company have carriages which are convertible which give you the option of being open top, roof covered or fully enclosed with windows should the weather turn?
  • Can the wedding carriage be decorated in your choice of wedding theme colours?
  • Will you be suppled with courtesy sparkling wine/champagne?
  • If any wine is spilt in the carriage would the client be responsible for damages or is this already covered in the cost?
  • If the reception is to be held in the same location as the wedding will the bride and groom be able to take a celebratory ride after they have tied the knot. If this is the case is this included in the total cost. If its not included and the service is offered be sure to ask what the additional cost would be.

Style of Horse Drawn Carriage

horse and carriageDuring the 19th Century the horse drawn carriage was one of the most popular modes of transport. The horse drawn carriage would have been driven by an experienced coachman and he would have been accompanied by a driver/groom.

Both men would have been dressed in traditional livery of livery coat, long breeches and long leather boots complete with top hat.

Some of the most popular Victoria wedding horse drawn carriages used include the Landau, Brougham, the Victoria, Barouche, the Clarence and the Phaeton.

The Landau

A four wheeled carriage which seats up to four passengers. The coachman seats at the front of the carriage. The carriage could either be pulled by a single horse or a pair of horses. There are two Landau designs  which are commonly used for wedding carriages; the Shelbourne and the Sefton Landau.

The Shelbourne Landau

The Shelbourne Landau is also referred to as the Square Landau. It has two folding hoods which can be raised to protect the bridal party from the elements. This carriage would be ideal for a summer wedding.

The Sefton Landau

The Sefton is also known as the Canoe Landau. Like the Shelbourn it is a convertible with two folding hoods which can be raised, but also has windows which can be raised to make the carriage completely enclosed from the elements. The Sefton makes for a perfect wedding carriage whatever the weather.

The Brougham

Named after Lord Brougham, this light four wheeled enclosed horse drawn carriage seated two people. Some models were made with two extra fold away seats in the front corners and a window at the front. The driver has a box seat at the front of the carriage. The carriage could either be pulled by a single horse or a pair of horses. This is an ideal carriage for a winter wedding.

The Victoria

Named after Queen Victoria, this elegant four wheeled carriage accomodated two forward facing passengers; with a raised drivers seat. The open carriage was eqiped with a folding hood. The carriage could either be pulled by a single horse or a pair of horses. This is an ideal carriage for a Summer wedding.

The Barouche

A four wheeled carriage which seated four passengers, designed so that the passengers who sat in the front were able to face those in the back. The vehicle had a folding hood which could be raised should the weather turn. The driver was positioned at the front in an outside box seat. The carriage would be pulled by a pair of horses. This vehicle was once popular with wealthy ladies who enjoyed being driven around the park. This carriage would be a good choice for a Summer wedding.

The Clarence

A four wheeled carriage which seated 4 passengers. The front passengers were able to face the rear passegers. The carriage is fully enclosed, making this an ideal carriage for a Winter wedding.

The Phaeton

This sporty 4 wheeled carriage, seated up to four passengers. There is a folding hood to cover the passengers should the weather turn bad. The carriage can either be pulled by a single horse or a pair of horses. This carriage would be good for a Summer wedding.

Many of the interiors used for horse drawn carriages during the 19th Century were made of leather or velvet, with rich colours of blue, black, burgundy or green all of which helped to create a feeling of real luxury.

Horse drawn carriages were driven by horses who were notoriously strong, have a good temperment, and who have a keen willingness to learn. For those reasons many of the horses choosen for carriage driving were Fresians, Gelderlanders, Shires and Bay horses.

This is an excellent page for more images of horse drawn carriages >>