News & Events
Wedding Planning Tips
Planning Budget, Dresses and Wedding Limos
If you're recently engaged and looking at wedding dates for this summer, congratulations! It never hurts to start planning your wedding as early as possible. While some experts recommend giving yourself a full year if you've picked a popular month, 6-9 months will suffice with some great organization. You can get away with much less if you're flexible about venues. If you're working with a 9 month window, we've compiled some tips on what to get started on as soon as possible:
Create Your Budget
Most wedding experts recommend that the first thing recently engaged brides do is have an honest conversation with family and their fiancee about exactly what they can afford for their total budget. If you're wondering if you really need a budget. Take advantage of expert resources that will allow you to determine just how big of a guest list, venue, dress and flowers you can really afford without totally blowing your budget or going into debt. If you're concerned you'll need the help of a professional to determine how much you can afford to spend on each element, you might need less help than you think!There are a number of budgetary tools and recommended breakdowns by wedding experts free online. One tool we can recommend comes from The Knot, who offers a free calculator to brides.
Pick Your Venue
If you're planning an early summer wedding, landing your perfect venue can be pretty challenging, especially considering many vineyards and ballrooms will accept reservations up to a full year in advance. If you're not totally dedicated to your date but have a dream venue in mind, it may pay to be flexible with which day you're going to tie the knot if their availability doesn't match up to what you had in mind.
Make a Guest List
Save the date reminders have become increasingly popular in recently years, primarily because it can ensure some of your well-connected guests leave the time open on their calendar. While you've got some time to start worrying about printing reservations, make a point to combine forces with family to plan exactly who you'll be inviting on to the ceremony, given your budget and the amount of space available at your venue of choice.
Start Talking to Vendors
It's an unfortunate reality that some popular caterers, florists and limo companies can find themselves completely booked well in advance of June. It never hurts to start doing legwork, checking reviews from former clients and comparing pricing well in advance of your wedding. Take advantage of bridal shows and online limo rates engines to streamline your pricing as much as possible. If you can compare rates side-by-side and start making phone calls, it can ensure you get the wedding limo and bridesmaids bouquets of your dreams!
Think About Dresses
If you're planning to purchase a custom-made or designer gown, it may not be a bad plan to start looking around more than 6 months in advance of your big day. It's not uncommon for a custom dress to take four months from order to final fittings! Beating the Spring rush at the bridal salons doesn't hurt, either - it will ensure you get more one-on-one time with a bridal consultant and may be able to take advantage of end-of-year or pre-season sales on the dress of your dreams.
While booking a hall and church and finding the perfect dress come first in the wedding planning process, transportation plays an equally important role. Since many of today’s weddings occur at the same time (usually within the summer or early fall), competition for available limousines, buses and other passenger transport vehicles can be fierce. And since many of your local limo companies only have one of each vehicle type, it is in your best interest to secure the vehicle you want and that will accommodate your size party as soon as possible. Be sure to select the vehicle that can safely seat all the passengers you need to transport and contract for the amount of hours you need for your wedding up front. It is usually costly to have to pay overtime rates on passenger vehicles. Contact your local limousine or charter company at least six months in advance to get the best selection of vehicles for your wedding, bachelor and/or bachelorette party. Finalize all wedding day details with the limo company about four weeks from your big day.
Winter Limo Service
When summer draws to a close and the leaves start to turn, we all start thinking of the holidays. Many people don’t think that limos can be used in the winter. You can’t be more wrong! Actually, while the number of weddings may decrease, the number of large gatherings, formal affairs and potential drinking related parties increase over the holidays. Many of our clients also HATE winter driving, but CDL passenger-endorsed drivers behind the wheel of a limo are experienced in all types of driving conditions, including defensive driving. Why worry about being late or arriving at a holiday party stressed from bad roads when you can take a limo instead!
We've compiled a few of our favorite ways that clients take advantage of luxury transportation during December, January and February:
1. Holiday Lights Tours
Winter scenery is almost always just gorgeous. If you're looking for a creative date idea, check if your local limo service offers holiday lights tours. Many communities offer spectacular outdoor lighting displays, ice skating rinks lit for the holidays or even outdoor ice sculpture parks. And of course, there are the festive neighborhood lighting displays. Your family will love viewing the best and brightest displays of holiday lights in your area!
2. Kids' Day Out
Cabin fever during holiday break have the kids climbing the walls or you desperate to get out? Why not treat you and your children to an afternoon or evening of fun in a limo! Reserve a limo for community light tours, a holiday concert or play, ice skating and dinner, or even the climax to a pool party at a local hotel.
3. Holiday Parties
We all look forward to them. We know that they often have our favorite “adult beverages” and we would really like to toast to the holidays in style. But what is always on our minds? Drinking and driving. Limos can offer groups, or even couples, the convenience of safe transportation to and from a great party without the worry of the ramifications of a drinking and driving accident or arrest. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride while your driver takes you from house to house or wherever you want to go to celebrate this year.
4. Night Out
Most of us look forward to the holidays and the family gatherings, tradition, fun and memories they bring. But too often we find ourselves stressed and unhappy around the holidays. If you're feeling the stress of shopping, wrapping presents and cooking for relatives in addition to your normal routine, reserve limo service and give yourself an evening to spend time alone, with your spouse or with a group of friends. Why not enjoy a night at a concert with your favorite band, or a performance of an anticipated play? How about a quiet dinner for two or a fun gathering with friends at a local wine or martini bar? Limo service may be the answer to a safe and relaxing night out just when you need it most. Santa needs a break too!
5. Holiday Travel
The holidays are a time for family, and for many that means traveling hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles for long-awaited reunions with loved ones. Limo service can be a lifesaver for those needing transport to local airports with lots of luggage, or those wishing to travel in large groups without a caravan of personal vehicles. Let a limousine driver get you and your family to the airport on time, or get you to a family dinner party with your group of 8, 10, 15 or more in one car. Who says the party has to start at the house? Enjoy your time together in one vehicle chatting, laughing or playing games.
Limousine transportation is something many of us should consider during the holidays and winter months. Let your local limo company take the stress out of your holidays and give you memories to cherish with family and friends for years to come!
LIMOUSINE RENTAL TIPS
StarGazer Limousine would like to provide you with this week's important limousine rental tip:
What you need to know before renting
Know what you are getting.
Here at StarGazer Limousine we respect our patrons and want to make sure they are satisfied with their transportation experience, therefore, we ALWAYS ensure they know the vehicle they are reserving in advance.
Over the years, we have found this is not always the case with other limousine companies. Customers have told us horror stories of reserving a luxury limo bus for prom, only to find a standard shuttle bus pull up to take them on their once-in-a-lifetime evening on the town. Another customer shared an experience when they reserved a limo and were shown one high-class limousine but a completely different vehicle showed up at their wedding.
That is why StarGazer Limousine always recommend that customers KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GETTING. We are always honest with customers about the age of our vehicles and our photos and videos portray our vehicles exactly as they are. Customers are also welcome to view the vehicles in advance to ensure they are comfortable with their choice.
To ensure you get what you pay for and are not surprised on your big day, ask to see the vehicle in person. If a company will not allow this, beware! You also can request that the contract for your event specifically state the license number of the vehicle you saw and have confirmed for your event. If that vehicle is not what is provided on your day of service, you can argue for breach of contract and a refund.
We encourage customers to EDUCATE themselves about this industry and know what they are getting to ensure they have a positive experience and their big day goes off without a hitch. Feel free to call us to schedule a visit to one of our locations to see our vehicles today. We look forward to hearing from you!
Looking for the lowest price? You may be disappointed.
The biggest error you could make when shopping for a wedding limousine is searching based on price. In the limousine industry, there are many variances in quality and price. All too often, a cheaper price translates into larger risk for you.
Most consumer would not choose a restaurant or hotel based solely on price, yet, some shop for a limo or transportation service by this method and expect a five-star quality presentation. If you shop for a limo based on price along, you will likely be frustrated and disappointed with your experience.
Old, dirty, poorly maintained vehicles, shoddy service, unprofessional chauffeurs, dangerous vehicles and under insured services are all possible results of a "best price" shopping priority.
Like the old saying ... you get what you pay for.
The limousine business is a business that is expensive for the many legitimate companies out there on the market. Rental prices that may seem high are simply what is required for a company to pay high insurance bills, pay for expensive maintenance and upgrades and keep up with rising fuel costs.
Ask to see the company's vehicles.
Check out the vehicle you plan on renting. Some companies utilize older fleets. You don't want to be surprised if a 1988 limousine shows up, when you were expecting a 2005 model.
Many older cars are clean and well maintained. Just be sure you know what you are getting.
Get A Signed Contract.
A reliable and professional service will be more than happy to provide you with a signed contract for service. Companies who cannot supply a contract may not be confident in their ability to fulfill an agreement.
Don't be the person who gets the "We don't have your reservation" story. Cover yourself by getting a signed contract and shop smart. Shopping on price alone is dangerous. Some unethical operators do not hesitate to drop a reservation to pick-up a better paying fare.
Ask About Insurance and Permits.
All limousines are required to carry commercial insurance and must be properly licensed. Unfortunately, the phone book or Internet search engines do not require the same information in order to advertise.
To protect yourself from "gypsy companies", ask for proof of these requirements with your signed contract. Once you receive the information, call the company to find out if the vehicle is actually insured and that it is commercial insurance.
Vehicle Rental Policies
In general, the BIGGER and the NEWER the limousine, the more expensive it will be to rent. Here are three standard types of limousines operating today at their relative cost per hour to rent:
Price estimates below do not include the standard 20% chauffeur gratuity.
10-passenger limousines ($90-$130 per hour)
12-passenger limousines ($120-$140 per hour)
14-passenger limousines ($100-$150 per hour)
Coach buses and Limo Buses ($200+ per hour)
Wedding rates are usually quoted as a package price. For instance, "Our 3 hour wedding package is $315.00 and includes our ten-passenger limousine". Ask your limousine company what is included in the package price. All or some of the following items may be included in the price:
Red carpet roll out
"JUST MARRIED" sign
Once again, when booking a limousine, always make sure you know what kind of car you are getting. Simply being told a "10-passenger limousine" is not enough. Many smaller companies utilize older fleets. There currently are three Lincoln body styles of limousines on the market make sure you know which you are getting.
Most companies require a minimum 3- to 4-hour booking when making reservations. If you are looking for a limousine for only one hour or for pick-up and drop-off service, you will have to do some searching. Many companies simply will not do these types of bookings because of cost considerations. If you do find a company that will do your event for one hour, more than likely the limousine will be an older model vehicle or will not guarantee the arrival time(s) of the car. There is nothing wrong with older model limousines; however, we suggest you view any vehicle before you rent, especially one that is over five years old.
Most companies require a deposit to hold your reservation with the balance due three (3) days prior to the rental date or on the day of service. If you cancel your reservation, your deposit can be forfeited. Such things can be outlined in the contract. Ask your selected company their policy IN WRITING.
Be aware that many older model limousines have air-conditioning systems which are NOT equipped to handle hot days. If your event is in the middle of summer, inquire about your limousine's air conditioning system. Older models may only have one AC compressor and on extremely hot days, getting a cool limousine may not be possible. Request limousines that have two AC compressors which will eliminate this problem.
Insurance IS important!
Always ask a limousine company if they can provide you with a certificate of insurance. If they are resistant, this raises a red flag.
Any limousine company should have commercial insurance for "passengers for Hire" According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, all carriers of passengers or property for-hire rental companies, owners of buses that carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver), human service vehicles, driver education vehicles and dealer demonstration vehicles are required to file proof of insurance before operating in Wisconsin.
Proof of insurance is a prerequisite for any "for hire" carrier to obtain vehicle registration, vehicle registration trip permits, and Wisconsin operating authority (USDOT number). The Wisconsin’s insurance minimums are a combined single limit of:
$300,000 for vehicles of 10,000 lbs. or less transporting non-hazardous substances
$750,000 for vehicles over 10,000 lbs. transporting non-hazardous substances
$1,000,000 to $5,000,000 for vehicles transporting hazardous substances (required amount depends upon the type of substances carried)
Insurance is required to promote public safety and insure fiscal responsibility of high liability operations.