For many, a wedding is a long awaited dream come true. Some see it this way because their dreams of walking down the aisle in the white wedding dress date back to childhood when they played (father and mother) games with the neighbour’s children.
For, others however, the concept of a dream come true is because it drained them of every single shilling and the celebration would have been postponed if it were not for friends’ contributions and money lenders.
Since it is a once in a life-time event for many, one of the considerations during wedding preparations are the cars to use.
Away from the uncountable cars that get Kampala’s roads jammed with traffic today, it was a big deal, even prestigious, to own a car between the 60s and 90s. You had to be wealthy and important. Cars were associated with the white man and were only owned by a handful.
A car would earn a man respect from the community because it portrayed status. The Morris Minor, Morris Kabawo, Zephyr Zodiac, Humber locally known as Police 999, Volvo, Saab, Mercedes Benz round light, 190 and 200, Volkswagen Beetle, Honda, Peugeot 203, Citroen and Fiat are some of the cars that graced Uganda’s roads in the 1960’s.
George Sekitoleko a 70-year-old car dealer at the Old Taxi Park says back then, if a couple did not have a friend, relative or acquaintance who owned a car, they would simply walk to and fro the church on their wedding day.
Similar to any other era, most cars from the 60s and 70s went on to be used in the 80s and 90s.
With a smile and swinging his arms in pride, Hajji Edirisa Nakaana a 53-year old car broker boasts that he transported his bride in a Peugeot 504 estate on their wedding day in November 1984. He adds, “It was one of the best cars at the time.”
Other cars that were common in the 80s were the Peugeot 403 and 404, Mercedes Benz 190 and Datsun 1600SSS. Since few people owned cars, most couples had little or no choice but to go for the car owned by someone in their circle.
“All cars were used as wedding cars. If one did not have a car, he would ask a relative or friend to lend him the car on the wedding day,” explains Nakaana. In the 60s to 80s, Beetles and Peugeots were today’s Jaguars and Mercedes-Benzes.
In addition, Richards Mutwafu, Marketing Manager of Hertz Uganda and Elphazi Muwonge a mechanic says in the early 90s, Mercedes-Benzes took to the scene. They were expensive and raised the bar of any event they were driven to.
To date, Mercedes-Benzes are used as wedding cars because of the several classes they are available in.
Mercedes-Benzes still have high competition over other wedding cars because of their continuous development thus providing a variety to pick from. Some of the most opted for Mercedes-Benzes today are the C-class old model and E class (round eyes).
In early 2000s however, BMWs and limousines surfaced on the wedding scene. BMWs are big cars, and most couples prefer theBMW 5 series and the X3 and X5 SUVs.
Today’s trending wedding cars
The basic rented wedding car has a chauffeur and the wedding colour-theme ribbon across as the main decoration.
In agreement with Mutwafu, Pearl Natamba, a marketing manager at Unique Corporate events, says weddings have nowadays taken on a trend of being a symbol of wealth and high class.
“Most people hold weddings to “wow” and compete with those before,” Natamba notes. A number of couples today opt for Jaguars, Lincolns, Mercedes-Benz, limousines, Volvos and Toyota Crown cars. Others are different classes of Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Harriers.
“Other wedding cars currently in use include the Jeeps, Rolls Royce, Range Rovers, Toyota Premios, Toyota Mark II and Toyota Ipsum,” states Mutwafu.
Choice of a wedding car is determined by the couple’s age, religion, family background, upbringing and availability of money. “Most young couples are luxurious when money is available while most old people are more concerned about being uniform and that things go the way they are supposed to,” Mutwafu explains.
He adds, “People like shouting colours for their weddings and the car colour currently on demand is silver.”
Consumer tastes are more dynamic, now than ever before, that some couples want open roofed cars including the limo which has no open roof model. To this, Natamba adds limousines have stayed on the wedding scene for quite some time because they are rare to catch sight of on an ordinary day.
Why the ordinary cars?
Toyotas such as Progrès, Premio, Mark Ipsum and Harrier are some of the other cars some people opt for as wedding cars.
According to Natamba, these cars are usually used because of the tight wedding budget which might at times not accommodate expensive wedding cars. However, couples are also strategic when choosing an ordinary car for the wedding.
“The Progrès is opted for because it looks like a Mercedes-Benz while the Harrier has Lexus roots. They are substitute products to the costly cars,” shares Natamba. The second reason as to why people go for ordinary cars is because they are readily available, and have good fuel consumption. Mutwafu explains that the Ipsum is preferred by couples because it is raised. Since these cars are readily available, one can easily borrow from friends and does not have to necessarily hire from an events car rental company.
Expensive and luxurious cars
Turning to the costly cars and why people opt for them as wedding cars, Natamba and Mutwafu recognise weddings nowadays are about showbiz and splashing lots of money. Such cars include Jaguars, Rolls Royce, Range Rover, Jeep, BMW and limousines. Apart from the comfort they come with, both events car marketing managers explain people opt for these cars because they have the money to spend and the cars are an indicator of high class.
Mutwafu however says Hummers have not yet been used as wedding vehicles. He adds, “There are also a few people who ask for small cars with the highest number of people asking for the Mercedes Benz E- Class.”
Some couples have however stepped out of the usual wedding cars and have opted for a lorry, boda boda, motor bikes, taxis, tractors and bicycles in search for uniqueness.
Unlike in the 60s-90s, couples now have a wide scope of cars to choose from as a wedding car however, this has seen some events car companies shift from renting cars for weddings and turning to renting out cars for company use or safaris. These companies cite changing market trends, because most couples now want to sit in the latest cars on their wedding day.
Before a couple hires wedding cars, they have to book the cars a month in advance which is followed by deposit of at least 50 per cent of the of the car rental fee. This fee is to be completed a day or two before the wedding day. Most couples want to be treated in a special way like king and queen on the wedding day therefore most of them are chauffeured throughout the day.
However, nowadays, it is not rare as it used to be in the past to catch sight of a groom behind the wheel on his wedding day. Mutwafu says this is common with two seater cars. In case the car or cars are involved in an accident or in the event that one of them is faulty, the rental company makes a replacement for the client. According to Mutwafu, all cars at Hertz Uganda are comprehensively insured implying that they can be replaced in real time.
A LOOK AT LOOK AT THE RATES FROM TWO FIRMS
When hiring cars for weddings, couples usually opt for five cars. Below are the rates of hiring bridal cars at two different car rental companies. The given rental car rates are per car for a day, chauffeur decoration and fuel inclusive.
Unique corporate events
Jaguar – Shs 550,000
Progrès - Shs200,000
Volvo cars- Shs350,000
Toyota Crown cars- Shs250,000
Toyota Harrier- Shs250, 000
Mercedes Benz E-Class- Shs450, 000
Mercedes Benz C-Class- Shs220, 000
Jeep- Shs1m – Shs1.5m
Limousines- Shs1m – Shs1.2m
BMW – Shs400,000-Shs650,000
Range Rover – Shs500,000-Shs800,000
Jaguars- Shs400,000 -Shs600,000
Rolls Royce- Shs1m – Shs1.2m