Theme: Romance – Wedding Cars

Romance leads to all sorts of things. Before the divorce comes the wedding. And that means a car to get the bride to the registry office. In the United Kingdom that probably means a Rolls-Royce in purest white.

1976 Rolls Royce silver shadow wedding cars
The white Rolls-Royce is desirable in the role of wedding car and uttely undesirable in any other role. Without looking up actual statistics, I’d guess a white Roller is worth less than any other colour apart from pink. It’s funny how people view the same thing in different contexts.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows are for me the archetypal wedding car: grand, imposing, aristocratic and fairly impractical. Romance is about feelings not facts and this is a true for a wedding car as for a wedding. The feel of the wedding car is to do with insulating the passengers from the bumpy business of transport. That it consumes fuel at the rate of 12 mpg and needs quite a lot of service is something to be forgotten about along with the horrific cost of canapes and bad white wine for 120 people.

The bipolar attitude people have to white Rolls Royces suggests that romance carries with it intimations of bad taste. A large white car looks wrong to most people’s eyes and this is down to cultural associations. The white car is ostentatious, piling on impressions of scale when dimensions alone can do the trick of making something seem large. Focusing more closely one thinks about the meaning of pure white.

A black flat screen television is an anonymous slab. A white one suggests a lack of finer judgement. A glossy white one offends to the maximum. Think also about pure white leather upholstery. Outside the chambers of an Arabian oil potentate, pure white leather is grotesque. It’s grotesque in the potentate’s chamber too but we can easily avoid that kind of locale.

Romance in this form borders on and easily crosses over into bad taste, when feelings triumph over restraint and rationality. Rationality suggests modest black for the television and off off off white for upholstery. It shows up the dirt less, simply put. Pure white denies reality as does romance and for that reason white suggest a flight from the facts of existence.

The white wedding car, that 1976 Silver Shadow, is locked tight to a one day escape from reason. What then the stretch limousine?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

12 thoughts on “Theme: Romance – Wedding Cars”

  1. That white Rolls for the Bride only must be a very british thing. I also feel that this over-romanticising, over-ritualising and over-planning of weddings is a tendency that more and more comes into our part of the world from Anglo-Saxon regions (certainly influenced by what we see in a lot of movies).

    Of course, also around here, weddings have long been the romantic occasion par excellence, and a flight away from everyday life has to be included – dancing, eating, drinking, you name it. Also in terms of transportation, tendencies towards an idyllic world are common. The Swiss classic certainly is the 1950s Saurer bus in yellow Post livery with red stripes that carries the wedding party from the church to the restaurant, thus evoking a time of unspoilt landscapes with little traffic, green pastures and cows. But also the bridal couple can often be seen in an old car. It doesn’t have to be a Rolls Royce, old Americans or Mercedes are very popular, too. I’ve even seen a couple crammed into the back of a Fiat 500.

    In our Family, Citroëns are practically de rigueur. My brother and his wife were driven around in a pre-war B14 or C4 convertible, and I had the pleasure of a DS 23. That same DS I also used as a chauffeur to drive a couple of friends at their wedding. Although rather sceptical about French cars at first, they were pleased and overwhelmed by the experience, and totally convinced after crossing the first speed bump.

    As a conclusion, romanticism and irrational transportation are common, and a portion of (often ironic) bad taste is OK. Stretch limos, however, are considered strictly for (wannabe) nouveau riche proles and Americans. If you want to exhibit particularly bad taste, you can resort to a stretched Hummer.

    1. The overplanned wedding is not a serious societal problem I have to admit yet I feel a lot of people ruin what ought to be a pleasant and joyful day with a massive bill and a great deal of stress. The white Roller is the least of it, really. Catering can be astronomical. You continentals should resist Anglo-Saxon wedding customs as strongly as you resist their ideas of plumbing and carpetting.
      The Swiss bus sounds jolly. I like jolly. And convivial.

  2. The last wedding I went to had the UK equivalent of a Swiss Postal Bus, a red Routemaster. But I missed it and had to walk.

    After the ceremony many couples traditionally get stuck into whatever ‘interesting’ old car a friend or relative has. If they’re fortunate it’s a comfy DS, but more often they end up crammed into the back seats of a Triumph Stag or Heinkel Bubble Car and their marriage never recovers.

  3. The other point about the archetypal white Silver Shadow wedding car is that it will often be a neglected mess. Usually cheaply oversprayed, with burgundy bubbling through in places, and kept by someone who expects it to earn him or her money, rather than having money lavished on it, which is the natural state of affairs with old cars. Never buy one – unless you do weddings.

  4. Having got hitched a couple of years ago, I can comment on the matter of wedding cars with some authority. Nobody has been married in a Silver Shadow since since Operation Yewtree swung into action. The more typical offering these days is an S Class, 7 Series, or for those with more challenging tastes, a stretched Humvee. Slightly more upmarket is a Bentley Arnage or Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. But if the bride’s parents are serious about impressing the Joneses / Khans and want to shovel money into the furnace, then only a late model Phantom will do.

    For anyone wondering what our choice was, look no further:

    1. That looks rather nice. It looks as if it might have a life outside the wedding trade. it´s not a Rolls either. Those vehicles must have looked like apparitions back in the 1950s. Imagine that rolling around a Warwick country lane. Also, it is a universe away from the ordinary cars of the time. That gap is now not so apparent, is it?

    2. Yes, a Phantom is an impressive car but it is still “off the shelf”. If there ever was a shelf for Jaguar Mark 5s, it wasn’t very big or well stocked.

      Incidentally, the chap also had a rather lovely 420 that I was also very keen on, my betrothed being somewhat less so.

    3. Despite the fact that the majority of people at your wedding possibly now remember you travelling in a white Bentley, the fact that it’s a Jaguar adds a subtly dashing touch to the proceedings.

      The last limousine I rode in was a stretched Daimler X308 at my dad’s funeral and, genuinely upset as I was, I couldn’t help looking at and being impressed by the quality of the conversion and assessing the ride quality.

    4. As wedding transport a classic Jaguar suggests the possibility of betrothal as an illicit and borderline disreputable act. What a Silver Shadow suggests is a good deal less, dare I say, romantic.

    5. There are other Mark 5 variants.


      The 420 would indeed make an even more louche wedding car.

      A 420 G would be ever loucher.

    6. The 420 might be louche but try telling that to the hapless bride, desperately attempting to squeeze herself and her ruinously expensive wedding dress into the rear compartment. The ‘G’ would be a far more capable wedding car with the added cachet of going to 11 on the louche scale…

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