Carried Away: Carriages for the Wedding
by Michael Kabel

Wedding carriages are the perfect finishing touch to the modern romantic wedding. Drawing upon several hundred years of tradition and sophisticated elegance, the horse drawn carriage exists today as the ultimate flourish for the luxuriant bride.

Carriages are available in some American cities for day rentals, and some carriage rental companies will travel anywhere within a particular area, sometimes an entire state or region, to deliver their services. If you're set on including a coach in your wedding plans, it's best to plan ahead (like all the other little details) and make sure the carriage you want is available. Once that's finalized, you can determine its placement in your wedding celebration.

Different Styles of Carriages

There are plenty of different carriages available, some in different parts of the nation and some provided by the same carriage rental company. For example, many companies feature traditional hansom carriages, while some feature prairie-style wagons and schooners. Many companies use vis-à-vis carriages specially decorated with wedding decorations and bridle for their two-horse team. The vis-à-vis carriage is the kind often seen in movies and television shows taking place in the Victorian Era. The carriage can hold four people (plus the driver), as the passengers sit facing each other.

Some companies offer a special "Cinderella" stagecoach, with the wire frame "pumpkin" cabin and flower garland trim made famous in the fairy tale and Disney motion picture. These coaches are very popular, and potential couples should plan on making reservations months in advance.

Fitting The Carriage to Your Plans

Selecting the perfect carriage for your wedding plans depends in large part on how you visualize using it during the wedding celebration. In fact, the carriage can make for a dramatic entrance or serve as the final flourish to the wedding celebration.

If you choose to have the carriage at the beginning of the ceremony, a vis-à-vis, with its open top and broad seating, might be the best way to display yourself and your fiancé as you approach the church. You'll have the best view of the party, the streets or countryside around you, and the accessibility to your gathered wedding party outside. But if you're saving the wedding carriage for the end of the reception, you might choose a closed coach or vis-à-vis with draped or shuttered windows. The carriage will arrive at the end of a long and tiring day, and you might want the privacy to sit back and relax - or even enjoy one another's company!

Making Carriage Reservations

Obviously the most important step is to find out what's available in your wedding area. Most carriage rental companies have websites outlining their reservations policy and what they have available during a particular time of the year. And to be candid, there's no point in not trying to negotiate a deal with the company in question. If you're close to their stable facilities, or if your wedding is during a slow time of the year, you may get a discounted rate.

Finally, remember to secure transportation for the end of the carriage ride. This could involve a friend giving you a lift to the hotel or even one of your own cars. But the carriage ride will eventually reach "the end of the line," and you'll want something there to continue your voyage into the honeymoon.