Happily Ever After 2015

Cat Limousines Keep the Celebration Moving

Feb 06, 2015

Trends toward bigger weddings with more amenities for guests, and weddings with a vintage theme, are influencing all the details that go in to the special day. That’s especially true on the wedding transportation front, said one local limousine operator.

“Times have changed; weddings are back to being big again,” said Michael Grieco of Cat Limousines. The trend is more groomsmen and bridesmaids, a return to a glamorous limousine or party bus for the wedding party, and offering a party bus to shuttle guests back to the hotel at the end of the night. Wedding trolleys will add some vintage details to shuttle services, too.

“We’re seeing big limos, buses, party buses, SUVs, which were only used for wedding parties that could afford it. And again, now more brides are choosing these options,” Grieco said.

Savvy couples are shopping for vehicles with the literal bells and whistles – and interior lighting, comfort seating and music options, such as satellite radio, playlist streaming and smartphone docks.

Complete transportation, meaning hiring transportation for a rehearsal dinner, hotel shuttle and day after, is another trend. But many more couples are now offering a way for their guests to go from hotel to reception and back without risking the drive themselves.

“I’m seeing it at a majority – more than 50 percent – of the bookings for weddings,” he said. “The couple offers a shuttle, such as a party bus, to give their guests a way to get back to the hotel after a night of partying.”

Cat Limousine offers several shuttles, and a gray one with more comfortable seating and amped-up music features make it a popular choice for weddings. “They don’t look like or feel like an airport shuttle, but are geared toward weddings,” he said.

The thought of a guest facing a DUI ticket – or worse, an accident – after a wedding reception is something couples are trying to prevent by offering a shuttle to a hotel.

“Everyone is very aware of DUI and the potential for disaster. If the wedding is not at a hotel, the couples have been offering a shuttle,” Grieco said. “On the shore for weddings, it’s high on the list for a bride to offer some sort of service, and it doesn’t matter if the hotel and reception means driving even 10 to 15 minutes. And it very well should be a high priority.”

Another trend is “after parties,” that is, the party after the reception. Getting a lift to the after party is where the limo or transport service comes in, Grieco said. “They’ll go back to the hotel and have a party! It’s a whole weekend now,” he said.

Another big trend is the wedding trolley, adding another vintage touch to weddings, but also lending itself to Shore weddings. Grieco said the wooden trolleys, which seat rows of guests, are a very strong trend and something he expects to see a lot more. Cat Limousine will begin offering trolley service in May, and would like to expand the fleet of trolleys.

“I’ve been a big fan of wedding trolleys. Cape May has one for historic trolley tours. And having a trolley on the shore is such a good fit for the wedding party or guests,” he said.

He loves the look and is a big believer the trend will stick around in the shore area.

“Trolley looks great with an all wooden interior and has the feel of an old San Francisco trolley. In our case, it’s cushioned, white, brand new, air-conditioned and heated,” he said. “It’s just a look with the shore; trolleys at weddings, it goes hand in hand with the beach, the shore, the water, the boards. We predict the trolley will be a more popular choice over two-car wedding versus limo-bus.”

He said Long Beach Island weddings often focus on those special details, and are often well decked-out affairs.

But regardless of the setting, “brides want the best,” he said. “They are very educated, very informed about the specific things they would like. Helping them find those things and making sure they are in love with them is the best part of being a part of the wedding service industry.”

Another piece of advice Grieco has is to triple check that the vehicle you are looking at will be the very vehicle that will arrive that day, and not just a different car that is the same model. Even make sure the company you book is the company that delivers the service that day, as some companies may send a replacement, Grieco warns.

“When transportation plans fall apart, it can do more than make a key person late. It could mean you might not make it to your own wedding,” he said. “We’ve had hotels call us wanting to know if we had a car available because the limo they booked never showed up.” Instead, pick a company that makes you confident in their organization and scheduling skills.

Grieco’s final tip to choosing your transportation: Fall in love with it after you sit inside, not before.

“The thing I tell my brides all the time is, come look at the vehicles. Because what you see on the computer often isn’t what you want,” Grieco said. “You have to balance an exterior cool look with inside comfort. Sit inside, think about leg room.”

Cat Limousine and Trolley Co., based in Freehold, serves the Long Beach Island and Atlantic City areas as well as elsewhere. Phone is 732-252-5849.

— Catherine Galioto

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