When Emma and Daniel’s email first dropped into our inbox, we were beside ourselves with excitement that they had such a great business, and that they wanted AOW to feature it. And then they asked whether we had any readers that might want to don their wedding dresses and get involved in a photoshoot featuring Bruce, their hunky VW camper van. And we basically fell over ourselves to ask you lot.
So. To re-cap. A wheelchair-accessible VW camper van named after a shark. AOW readers. Their wedding dresses. A photo shoot. What do you say, readers? Fancy it? Just let Emma and Daniel know.
Please read this post even if you are already married (or just skip to the bottom!), as we have a HUGE favour to ask at the end!
We are Emma and Daniel, a married couple in our 30s from Manchester, and we’ve just launched a new business together. Great White Occasions offers a chauffeur driven service in our renovated vintage 1973 VW camper van for weddings and civil ceremonies, which also has optional wheelchair access, which we believe is the first of it’s kind in the country!
We have been a couple since 2000 and got married in 2010 after an 11 month engagement, so we know first hand how exciting but sometimes stressful it can be to plan a wedding. We would love to be able to help couples get their big day off to a stress-free start and add a bit of fun too!
We were originally inspired to start our own business after watching a TV programme where a couple had renovated a double-decker bus to use for weddings. Like a lot of people, we have always liked the idea of working for ourselves, and something just clicked that this could be something we could work on together. We decided a VW camper van would be more suitable for us than a double-decker bus(!), and we knew we wanted to make it wheelchair accessible, as we have family and friends who are wheelchair users. With Daniel having a background in special needs education and me (Emma) being a GP, we hope that we can offer a different perspective on the difficulties people with disabilities or in wheelchairs may face when planning a wedding (even though we are not wheelchair users ourselves).
When we were researching into the types of wheelchair accessible wedding cars available, we were surprised to learn that the options available are very limited, and generally not very pretty. We found that the main options available were either a black taxi cab (if you are lucky this is sometimes available in white!) or a minibus-type vehicle (if you are very lucky you can find one without ‘TAXI’ written across the back or sides!). It seems very unfair that just because someone is in a wheelchair they have very few options when it comes to planning transport for their big day. The lack of choices in wheelchair accessible wedding transport really inspired us, and motivated us further to make our idea a reality.
We knew from the beginning we wanted the wheelchair access to be flexible, as we know that every wedding has different requirements. The camper van has therefore been renovated in the back to keep the original bench seat, but we have installed two removable seats facing it. This allows a person in a wheelchair to sit next to someone in the removable seat, or facing someone on the bench seat, as we certainly don’t want to limit who people can sit with on their special day!
We chose the name ‘Great White Occasions’ for our business based on Daniel’s favourite film, Jaws, and our love of sharks in general. All VW camper vans are given a name by their owners, and we named our camper van Bruce, the nickname that the crew filming Jaws gave the shark in the film!
Vintage VW camper vans already attract attention on their own, but we wanted to make ours even more eye-catching, to add to the fun occasion of a wedding day. We decided on pastel yellow and blue/lilac colour schemes for our camper van, as we felt the colours complemented each other well, and are quite unusual in the VW camper van world and in wedding transport in general! Because the camper van has a custom luxury interior and is only used for weddings, there is no camping equipment inside, which gives it a more spacious feel (and more space for photos!).
(Bruce with his make over nearly finished and showing off his new colours)
But this is where we need your help, to try and show off Bruce the camper van’s new makeover. As we have just launched our business, we don’t have any photos of Bruce at an actual wedding yet. We plan to arrange a photo shoot with a photographer and other local or national suppliers who may be interested, and we would love to have ‘real-life’ brides or couples to feature in this, rather than models.
We were wondering if any of you lovely AOW readers would be interested in wearing your wedding dresses again for a photo shoot? We would probably be arranging this in the North West, as we are based in Manchester, but we can finalise the details once we have an idea how many people would be interested!
I (Emma) am guilty of being a bit of a lurker on the blog, and too shy to attend any of the meet-ups that have happened so far, but hopefully this idea is one that you would all be interested in? We really do look forward to meeting you all soon for an epic photo shoot, the likes of which has probably never been seen before!
Please leave us a comment, contact us on our website Great White Occasions, on twitter @GW_Occasions or on facebook.com/greatwhiteoccasions if you have any questions or ideas!
By Emma and Daniel Ryan