How to start a wedding car rental business
Have you got a passion for cars? Do you want to be a part of one of the biggest days of people’s lives? If you do, consider starting a wedding car hire business. Find out more here
Think back to the last wedding you went to. What were some of the highlights? While seeing the happy couple say ‘I do’ and having a slice of wedding cake are likely to be the most memorable, another key moment is often when the couple arrive at the ceremony. Like other guests, you were probably wondering how they would get to the venue and what type of car would be used.
We’ll provide a comprehensive guide that takes you through the necessary steps you need to take to set up your own wedding car rental business.
In this article, we’ll cover:
You can read the whole article for a complete overview of starting a wedding car hire business. If there’s a particular step you want to know more about, just skip to the sections that are most relevant to you.
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1. Regulations and equipment
The first step you need to take to set up your wedding car rental business is to know what equipment you’ll need and which regulations to follow.
Some key questions you’ll need to consider include:
- What type of car insurance will you need?
- Who will drive the cars?
- How will you purchase the cars?
- What type of cars will you use?
As you’ll be renting out a car for hire or reward, you’ll need to take out specialist wedding car insurance. This offers protection for the driver and passengers, as well as taking into account factors specific to driving cars for wedding celebrations, such as occasional use and low mileage.
How much you’ll pay for insurance will depend on the type of car you’ll be covering and the location it’ll be used in.
You’ll need to decide if your business will supply the cars with or without drivers. If you choose to run a wedding car rental business with a driver supplied, you’ll need to ensure you meet the requirements to drive in this way.
This is also referred to as being a chauffeur and a full UK driving licence and previous driving experience is essential. Additional rules apply if you use limousines or operate as a private hire firm.
Alternatively, you can provide self-drive cars for hire. With this option, it’s the responsibility of the wedding party to drive themselves to and from the event, although this is a less common approach. Be sure to get the appropriate self-drive hire insurance too.
When running a car hire business, it’s expected that you’ll buy the cars and then rent them out. It’s not best practice to rent or lease cars and rent them out again.
While purchasing a car is a considerable expense, this is literally the focus of your business, so it pays to choose wisely.
Look online for wedding cars for sale, or head to your nearest auto dealer to see if you can find a new or second-hand vehicle. Just be sure you check it’s roadworthy.
Classic cars (such as a Rolls Royce or a Bentley) are still a popular choice for weddings. Buying a classic or vintage car is not for everyone, though – perhaps you’re looking to create a niche for your business.
With the rise of themed weddings and sustainable celebrations, you could offer custom or alternative vehicles to suit a wider range of needs. Some ideas for niche vehicles include VW campervans and eco-friendly cars.
In addition, the research showed that traditional locations for wedding ceremonies, such as country houses or manor houses, remain popular in the UK. This suggests that wedding car rentals are still necessary to get to these venues, which are often in rural locations.
2. Costs and pricing
Some of your main questions when starting a wedding car hire business are likely to be how much will it cost and what should you charge.
It’s worth nothing that wedding car hire is a seasonal business. You can expect to see spikes in demand at peak times of year, such as summer and spring. In contrast, you’ll need to factor in for low season during the winter months.
In addition to factoring this into your pricing (more on that below), you could also consider alternative forms of income to cover you out of wedding season. For example, you could hire your cars out to film sets or photo shoots.
In order to charge competitively, do some market research to find out what’s in demand in the area you’ll be operating in. What you charge should take into consideration:
- Geographical location – note that wedding costs vary across the country
- Car expenses – both initial outlay and maintenance fees
- Driving time – how long the car (and you, if you’re the driver) will be on the road for
How much to charge
Usually, wedding cars are hired out for a set price for the day, with an average price range of £200-£500.
This depends on the location you’re in and the type of car. Also, what you charge may vary depending on the time of year, with lower prices common out of season. The day of the week is likely to also be a cost factor, with weekends usually more popular than weekdays.
The rental fee tends to include transport to the ceremony and the venue, as well as the driver (if you’re not offering a self-drive option).
It’s also common to include decorations such as flowers and garlands, although not all companies do this – it’ll be up to you to decide if this is a service you want to offer. You may want to consider partnering with a local florist.
Generally, you can charge by time or by distance. Some factors to consider when working out pricing include:
- The number of trips
- The driving area
- The number of stops (such as for photos)
- The waiting time during the ceremony
Also, there are some other costs to account for – such as services and maintenance like professional car cleaning and valeting services – to ensure your cars are ready to be hired.
When you have more than one car available, you may also want to consider packages and renting them out in pairs or sets, such as for larger weddings that may require multiple vehicles to transport the guests.
It’s wise to rent out your car for only one wedding per day. That way, you won’t have to worry about timings and will be covered in case of worst case scenarios, such as traffic delays or if you (or the driver) is unwell. Doing a practice run before each booking is advisable.
You’ll need to think about the pricing structure, such as a deposit and balance system, and when these are due.
Remember that wedding bookings will often be booked quite far in advance, due to the nature of planning a wedding. Some people may want to view the car prior to booking so be sure to factor this into your plans.
That being said, you’ll also need to think about what happens if a booking is cancelled, such as what happens to the deposit.
You may also consider buying a franchise or an existing business if you don’t want to start from scratch. Be sure to assess your budget and find out why the business is being sold.
3. Marketing your wedding car business
There are a number of ways to market your wedding car business, both offline and online. We’ll run through some of the top ways to let potential customers know about your business in this section.
While some couples may opt for a completely social media-free ceremony, others may be sharing, liking and posting the moment it’s official. What does ring true for many couples is using social media for research during the wedding planning process.
Although there are a number of social networks to choose from, such as Facebook and Instagram, it’s Pinterest that’s the platform to be on for wedding research. Couples can create their own boards with images (pins) of their ideal wedding.
Be sure to sign up to Pinterest as a business and create pinnable images of your cars to target the wedding market.
Even though the majority of the time you’re likely to be actively seeking potential customers, it’s wise to be listed on a general online directory, as well as specialist wedding sites if possible.
These platforms offer a database of businesses that people can search for. You’ll need your key contact details, as well as which locations you cover and the type of wedding car rentals you provide.
Your business needs to have a website, as searching for a business online is often one of the first actions people take to find out more. For more information, read our page about how to develop a strategy for building your website.
How you can create this depends on what you want to achieve with your site and how much you want to spend.
You could hire a web designer to create a bespoke site with custom functions, such as an online booking system. Or, to begin with, you could create your own basic website with a website builder.
Sometimes, you need to put a face to a name. By getting out and about and visiting wedding shows and trade events, you can meet customers in-person and network with other businesses.
You could go to local shows and open days that match your target market, or UK-wide events, such as The National Wedding Show.
You may want to hand out business cards to help spread the word about your business. As your company grows, you could consider getting a stand and exhibiting at the shows to have a bigger presence and showcase your business’ services.
Your cars can also be used as advertisements. Take them for a drive into city centres or other prominent locations near venues to let people see them for themselves your cars that are available for wedding car rental.
You could sign write your vehicle, or simply put an advert in the window with your business’ name and contact details.
Another useful source of potential customers is working with other suppliers who are key to the wedding day, such as photographers or local hotels. You could promote your services as part of a package or ask if you can put each other’s marketing material in your respective premises.
Whether you choose to collaborate with a photographer or not, it’s essential to have good quality images of your cars to put on your social media, website and elsewhere.
Make sure the cars are cleaned and ready to go, especially during peak times of year for weddings, such as spring, summer and early autumn.
This lets people know about your business and that your cars are available for wedding day car hire.
As your business grows and develops and you’ve had a few customers, it’s a good idea to get testimonials or referrals from couples you’ve worked with.
Add their feedback to your website and other profiles, as well as seek referrals from their network too – you could set up a referral scheme as a further incentive.
What are the next steps?
At this point, you’ve learned more about the regulations and equipment you need to run your own wedding car rental company. Plus, we’ve looked at the costs and pricing you should budget for, as well as how to market your business to potential customers.
So where do you go from here? Now’s the time to actually get going and start your wedding car rental business – good luck! A next step to take is to write your business plan – learn how here.