The following is a brief history of our company over the past 22 years and how technology has changed the way we take bookings and communicate with our customers.
Christophers Wedding Cars first started in 1995 when Chris and Craig decided to purchase a 1975 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, with view to starting up a wedding car company. That's Chris with the car photographed at the The Old Mill in Aldermaston.
In those days very few people used the internet, there was no Facebook, Social Media or smart phones and Google didn’t exist. We would advertise in Yellow Pages, Thompson Local, various specialist wedding publications and exhibit at Wedding Fayres. We remember that people would queue up at Wedding Fayres with their cheque books to pay a deposit for our Rolls Royce.
So when we started the company most wedding bookings were taken over the phone or at Wedding Fayres.
At that time, as well as running the Rolls Royce at the weekends for weddings, we were still both in full time employment during the week and used income from our jobs to purchase our next car, which was a 2 door Beauford. Unfortunately, 2 door models don’t have much room inside, so was replaced with a long-bodied model. We had been trading for about 2 years when Lady Diana was tragically killed. It was her funeral on the 6th September 1997. We remember this well since we had a wedding booking with the Beauford in Windsor that day and the streets were deserted, it was a most surreal experience.
Sadly Beauford's and Silver Shadows have declined in popularly and our fleet has been updated with the more popular cars you see on our website.
On the 23rd November 1998 we registered the website domain name “christophers.co.uk” and our first website was launched. At the time you could only access the internet via a dial up modem and Freeserve was a popular dial up service provider, which we used for internet and email access. You would pick up a free CD from Dixons and install a program on your PC running Windows 95 (you installed programs on desktop computers via a CD or floppy disc). The dial up connection was very slow and was lucky to get speeds of 56 kbits/s – wow. A simple web page could take 10 seconds or longer to download and the connection would often drop out.
The most popular search engines were Yahoo, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves. Again, Google didn’t appear till later and social media was in the distant future.
So, in addition to taking bookings through Yellow Pages, Thompson Local and Wedding Faye’s, we now had the internet and email. Things were starting to get high tech.
We then purchased 2 American Stretch limousines and a website “americanlimos.com”.
The interiors were very bling with a bar, blacked out windows, mood lights, a CD player and TV with VHS video player (hands up who remembers VHS).
We had some lovely bookings taking passengers to restaurants and to the theatre in London for a night out. We once provided a service for Prince Edward and a group of business men.
Over time several other limousine companies started up and it became apparent that there wasn’t enough business to go around, so we sold those limousines and the website domain name to concentrate on weddings cars and our corporate customers.
In 2002 we secured a contract with Reading Council to drive the Mayor of Reading to their various engagements and we still provide this service today. You may even see us driving around Reading with a plaque on the front of the car displaying the Reading Borough Coat of Arms.
As the years progressed we purchased more cars and left our full times jobs to concentrate entirely on the business. We always wanted to provide wedding cars that were different from those offered by other companies, but at the same time would be popular with Brides and most importantly, reliable, easy to maintain and with readily available spare parts. The result today is a unique range of vehicles with 2 of the more popular models.
With many more cars we asked Ian to join us. Ian ensures the maintenance schedules are up to date and the cars are polished and valeted so they go out looking their very best. He also maintains our Facebook and Instagram pages.
So how do people book with us now? Yellow Pages and Thomson Local no longer exist and Wedding Fayres are more showcase events for ideas, rather than a place to book a wedding supplier (no more queuing with cheque books). Most bookings come via Google, links through social media and specialist wedding websites. Because we have been trading for many years we also receive enquiries via recommendations from Bride and Grooms we have previously provided cars for. In addition, many venues list us as their preferred supplier.
We do hope you have enjoyed reading a little about the history of our company. There is a lot more we could say, like the time we drove Calvin Klein, but that's another story.