Cinderella drove to the prince's party at the castle in a carriage pulled by white horses. A bride arriving for her wedding at the church in a horse-drawn carriage gets the chance to feel like a princess arriving like royalty on the biggest day of her life. Providing the horses and the equipment to make a bride’s dream a reality could be a lucrative opportunity for the right equine business.
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Kimberley Finney owns Saratoga Horse & Carriage with her husband, Alan. She said there is a lot that goes into offering a carriage service that people don’t usually think about.
“The biggest thing people say all the time is that the price is so high,” she said. “But they don’t understand we can’t just show up for 15 minutes. There’s a lot behind the scenes they don’t see.”
For example, a 15-minute carriage ride from the church to the wedding reception might require five to seven hours of preparation. From bathing horses to cleaning harnesses and carriages, to hauling to and from the destination needs to be figured into the pricing.
“When a client requests a white horse rather than our black horses, that can take more grooming time,” she said. “Our horses live free-range, and they roll in the mud and go in the pond.”
The devil is in the details. Finney does more than provide the horses and vehicle for a wedding. The driver and the footmen wear tuxedos. They provide umbrellas in case of rain and blankets when it’s cold. Every piece of equipment must be cleaned and polished.
“We can’t have dirty equipment with the brides getting in and out of carriages in their wedding dresses,” she said.
Some wedding couples want to ride in horseback, or leave the wedding site on horses, rather than use a carriage. That can be even more difficult, especially if the bride and/or groom don't ride! Plus, you need horses that will tolerate the clothing, can deal with bustle of the wedding party crowd, and will tolerate the music and photographers.
Providing horses for weddings is an investment—both in equipment and the time to train the horses. With the right planning and preparation, barns that provide horses for weddings can be a part of a couple’s most memorable day of their lives.