When Oprah Winfrey’s fans mistake your ceremonial motorcycle escort for the real thing, you know you’re doing something right. And that’s exactly what happened to Motorcycle Escorts founder Steve Lunam.
Steve’s Sydney company, the only one of its kind in Australia, specialises in providing motorcycle escorts for weddings and other big-ticket events, such as hen’s and buck’s nights.
And when the Big O last visited Down Under, it sent her fans into a tizzy.
“We were doing a wedding in Sydney during the week that she was in town filming her show, and we had people mobbing the wedding car,” he says. “They thought they were going to get a glimpse of the megastar talk show host.”
Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t the case, but Steve says it does underline the attention-getting appeal of a cortege led by authentic-looking Motorcops in full dress uniform with regalia.
“Everyone wants something unique for their wedding; something that stands out from the crowd for guests to remember their wedding by,” he said.
And a motorcycle escort does that with style and dignity, creating a showstopper and memory maker all in one.
Since it’s such a new service for Australian weddings, we wanted to know more…
In a nutshell, what is a motorcycle escort?
The motorcycle escort is traditionally an integral part of any high-profile event, harking back to the days of an equestrian guard of honour. In modern times, a uniformed guard riding beautifully embellished motorcycles is regarded as something reserved for visiting dignitaries or State events. As well as weddings, we’ve also been involved in some great hens and bucks events, from escorting the girls’ bus or limo to performing a mock arrest during the night.
What do you think it brings to a wedding?
Your wedding day is probably the most important day of your life, both symbolically and practically. This is the one day you are the main attraction. It is the day neighbors come out of their homes as you drive down the street; people you don’t even know turn and smile, wave or sound their horn as you drive by. You are granted a license on this day to be as extravagant as you please. A motorcycle escort elevates the status of your cortege to that of a State event. It creates an unmistakable wow factor, not only on the road but also for your grand arrival.
Are escorts more popular for brides or grooms?
I find the most sentimental journey is usually that of the bride with her father. Along the way, she contemplates her future and also reflects on the past and the fact this is the last journey she will take with her dad before he “gives her away”. There is also the anticipation of her arrival at the ceremony and, of course, the grand entrance. We all remember Kate Middleton’s arrival at her wedding, but who remembers how Prince William got there? However, brides will often employ our services to escort their grooms as a gift and sometimes “because he got to choose the cars!”
How many bikes are involved in an escort? Do people use them in their photos as well?
We can supply up to eight motorcycles, but by far the most common combination is two or three. Most often we escort to the ceremony and then we escort the entire bridal party to the photo shoot and get involved in the photos. I usually suggest that by the end of the photos, the shine has worn off and everyone is looking forward to a drink at the reception so we may not be required. If the reception is outdoors, or if guests will be outside to welcome the bridal party, then the bikes are a nice touch.
Do you use a certain type of motorbike?
Our bikes are all US Harley-Davidson Police Roadkings and Electraglides. They all saw service in the United States except one, which was used by Australian police.
Why did you choose them?
Harley-Davidson Police models are specifically designed for parade and dignitary service. They present a very impressive picture on the road and have a very distinctive note to their engines. Their black-and-white paint designation makes them instantly recognisable thanks to countless Hollywood movies.
Did you have to get any special permits from NSW Police to use them on the road?
I show these bikes at many NSW Police functions and community charity events promoting road safety and motorcycle awareness. All of the bikes fully comply with current legislation and are legally registered.
Is there any capacity for people to double on the back of the bikes?
Police Harley-Davidson models are all solo configuration, so there is no pillion seat available. I get asked this question frequently and when I point out the disastrous impact to wedding hair that wearing a helmet has… brides are thankful there is no back seat!
Is it true there’s a sidecar?
We have a great double sidecar that can transport up to three young children or two adults and is a fantastic addition to the cortege. We also offer this as a self-ride option for a very romantic getaway from the reception, complete with a “Just Married” sign and tin cans trailing. We provide some training and an escort for this and the rider needs to have a current motorcycle license and be a non-drinker at the reception.
Your uniforms are inspired by those of real police services. Why did you choose them?
We have two uniform combinations to choose from. Most wedding couples choose our “dark navy” LAPD-style uniforms because they are very dignified with their gold embellishments. We also offer a totally authentic California Highway Patrol uniform (pictured below) – as popularised in the 1970s/1980s TV show CHiPS – simply because this is the world’s most recognisable police motorcyclist’s uniform.
Do all the uniforms include a certain type of sunglasses?
Ha! Yeah, ones that block out the sun!
Do riders ever get mistaken for the real thing by people seeking a police officer?
The illusion usually lasts for about five seconds before most people realise we look like TV cops and not the real thing. The concept does create intrigue though, and passersby always take a second look at who is in the limo. Also, the majority of our riders come from a police background as the style of riding we do is quite advanced and requires a high degree of expertise.
We know there’s flashing lights, but what about music? Can people supply a playlist?
We use the flashing lights on private property for photos and the bikes are equipped with amber flashing lights, which we can use on the road if required to warn motorists of a hazard. A very unique feature of our service is we can play music through our siren speakers. We can play anything, however, when we have the girls on the way to the church we often play the ’60s hit Chapel of Love and sometimes, on the way to the photos, Billy Idol’s White Wedding. As we leave the church, playing a few bars of the theme from TV show Married with Children, Frank Sinatra’s Love and Marriage, always brings the house down!
Do brides or grooms ever organise an escort as a surprise for their partner?
Most definitely! Also, we have parents of the couple organise an escort as a surprise gift. It is always a big hit when we turn up unexpectedly. We once performed a traffic stop on the groom’s cars and said we were under orders from the mother-in-law to make sure he actually turned up!
Are the ‘officers’ in character the whole time? How does this play out?
Depending on the theme the couple wants to set, the arrival can be super dignified and elegant, or we have been known to walk into the ceremony prior to the bride’s entry and arrest the troublesome uncle. One groom at the wedding of a police couple was known to spruik around the station that the only way he would ever go down the aisle was in handcuffs… so his bride arranged this and we obliged … all in good fun of course.
Can people request male or female officers? What training and experience do they have?
We do have male and female officers and can honour these requests. All riders are capable of advanced riding techniques and most have a professional riding background.
Can the escort be themed at all?
Wedding couples become event organisers, maybe this one time in their lives. One rule every professional event organiser lives by is you must capture your guests at the earliest possible opportunity and set the mood for the day. If you don’t, you risk losing your audience. We have the ability to inspire and encourage the guests and to set the mood the couple chooses.
What’s the escort’s usual speed?
We often travel at the same speed as the traffic but we never exceed the speed limit or disobey any road rules. We maintain a steady movement and take all steps to keep the cortege together so our arrival is spectacular.
What sort of reaction does it draw from onlookers and other motorists?
We constantly have people get out of their cars in stopped traffic to take pictures. One of my riders who rode in the NSW Police VIP group commented he got more looks from motorists on a wedding escort that he did from a recent royal visit detail he worked on.
Do you think people are inspired or awed by the reaction they get?
The most common comment I get from wedding couples is that the escort was an afterthought because they didn’t consider the cortege beyond the hire cars, but in hindsight, the wedding procession was an absolute highlight of the day because of the inclusion of the police motorcycle escort. You can check out a video here.
See Motorcycle Escorts featured in Sylvia & Ariel’s Real Wedding here: Policeman knocks on bride’s door morning of Armenian wedding.