Weekend Wonderings: A Photo Shoot for Great White Occasions!

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!

(How Bruce the VW camper van looked when we bought him)

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

Categories: Wedding Planning, Weekend Wonderings
27 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted August 17, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you again to Anna, Clare and Aisling for featuring us on their AMAZING blog, we have been excited all week counting down to today!

    The link to our website doesn’t seem to be working in the post, so here it is again if you want to check it out! http://Www.greatwhiteoccasions.com

    Hopefully we can meet some of you soon (in your wedding dresses! Wooooooo!)

    If anyone is keen to take part but isn’t married yet, or isnt planning to get married, we are hoping to work with a wedding dress shop so there may be an option to wear a sample dress, or just try a different style dress from your own wedding dress. We would also be more than happy for people to join in wearing any special occasion outfit they fancy!

    Emma and Daniel at Great White Occasions

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Website link fixed now, folks! We are THRILLED to be promoting this today!

  2. Posted August 17, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Oh my god.

    VW Camper van. My wedding dress. Can I say HELL YES?! I just deafened my Mr with the squeal I let out.

    :D x

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Laura

      Glad you are interested! I squealed this morning too when I saw the post was actually on the blog!

      Emma x

  3. Carly
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Oh dammit, I’m not married until April! So jealous of all you others that will get a chance to wear your dresses again!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Carly…you can always wear a sample dress! See Emma’s comment above!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Hi Carly,

      Yes, like Anna says, we are happy for people to either wear a sample dress or you can wear whatever you like really!

      Let us know if you are interested!

      Emma x

  4. Lexie
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    That is one cool camper van! I also happen to live in Manchester and have a wedding dress just hanging around doing very little these days so it would seem rude not to say yes, I’m up for it!!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Hi Lexie,

      Glad you like our van! My dress is just hanging up too, and it seems like such a shame, so any excuse to wear it again seemed like a good idea! (if I can still fit in it!)

      Emma x

  5. Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I am not sure I still fit my dress. And it is a little ripped at the back (well a lot) but from the front it might look fine…

    Love that this is your business that is so cool. And it’s totally worth meeting AOWettes because everyone is like they are here. :)

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Hi Siobhan,

      Well a ripped dress sounds like you had a fun wedding! It would be good to meet other AOW readers in person, especially as I have only recently started commenting and we have now had a piece posted! (eeek!)

      Emma x

  6. Posted August 17, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I love Bruce!! Wishing you lots of luck for your new business and I’d love to come to the shoot!! I’m in Scotland though so depends when you were thinking but would definitely like to hear more about it :)

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Hi Roz,

      So happy you like our van! And that you would come to our shoot! We are open to suggestions about when would be best for people. We are guessing a weekend would be best for most people?

      Emma and Daniel x

    • Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Same here, this is so exciting, hope it’s a time I might be able to come down! :) I’d love to wear my dress again! Have only just seen this now (catching up on lots of blogs!) xx

  7. Posted August 17, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Depends on when for me, but if you need veils/headpieces then I’m happy to supply whether I can be there or not!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Hi Amy,

      It would be so amazing if you were able to provide any of your brilliant veils or headpieces! We are flexible about when the photo shoot would be, so if you could make it then that would be great!

      Emma and Daniel x

  8. AnotherSarah
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    This is fab – I wish your business every success (I can’t think of much I’d like less than a photo shoot though so I’ll pass on this, thanks).
    My mum is disabled and we were shocked, throughout the wedding planning process, about how little consideration suppliers have for those with disabilities. My mum was chauffeured to the venue by my my brother in the end and we had to turn down lots of venues where she was expected to walk around the outside of a venue to get to the toilet or she’d have to spend the whole reception on the dancefloor (she can’t dance). The photographer kind of got his head round the fact she wasn’t going to stand for ages and I wasn’t prepared for mum to be the only one.sitting. Then there were the dress shops!! I can’t imagine how frustrating or compromising it must feel for a disabled bride or groom. I really wish this business every success.

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Hi Sarah,

      Sorry you and your mum had such problems with aspects of your wedding. It really is shocking the general lack of awareness of the difficulties different suppliers are causing people who use wheelchairs or who have disabilities, such as having steps into their shops or not having accessible toilets.

      When we have been to wedding fairs to introduce ourselves to different suppliers and we have mentioned about our optional wheelchair access, some have been really positive and some have turned their nose up at the idea!

      We hope once we have had our business going for a while we can build up a list/directory of accessible wedding suppliers to try and help people who might be finding it difficult.

      Emma and Daniel x

      p.s. I can understand you not wanting to be in the photoshoot – we felt a bit cringey having our photos taken at our wedding, and our favourite ones are where we are more relaxed and smiling naturally, and not a ‘posed’ smile! Hopefully there wont be any need for ‘posed’ smiles on our photoshoot!

  9. Bex - The Ginger Bee
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Sounds amazing!! As a Londoner it would depend when it was but am so so interested!!!! Amazing idea!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Hi Bex,

      Glad you like the idea!

      We are open to ideas about when would be best for the photoshoot, so please let us know!

      Emma and Daniel x

  10. Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    That is a beautiful machine….alas I am too porky for my dress having just popped out a baby or I would have been all over this photoshoot! *dramatic sigh* itching to wear it again as well… Good luck with the business venture E and D!


    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Hi Penny,

      We are happy for people to wear whatever they like for the photoshoot, not just their wedding dresses, so please don’t let that stop you! (Although we can understand you might be busy with a new baby and all!)

      Emma and Daniel x

  11. Zan
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh this sounds amazing! I got married 3 months ago & walked from hotel to venue or would have been all over this :)

    I’m based in Manchester & have a colourful flouncy Asian wedding dress sitting in the spare room – would love to be involved!

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Zan,

      Glad you like the idea and are Manchester based too!

      A colourful flouncy Asian wedding dress sounds amazing! I might wear the kimono I wore for our wedding again (if we can figure out how to tie it without my Granny who came over for the wedding and literally dressed me!)

      Emma x

  12. Posted August 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I am definitely interested! I would LOVE to wear my dress again and meet some AOWers in person. I’m sure my husband wouldn’t mind being replaced by Bruce for the day :) I’m fairly flexible on dates October onwards so please do keep me posted on details.

    And congrats on your fab business, I’m sure you will be inundated – best of luck with it all!

    Alice x

    • Posted August 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Hi Alice,

      It seems like October is an option for the photoshoot – and a weekend seems to be best for people?

      Thanks for your kind comment about our business idea!

      Emma and Daniel x

  13. gemma c-s
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I doubt that a, we’d get to Manchester in October and b, that I’d fit into my wedding dress, but this venture looks amazing and I wish you so much luck! x

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