B.LOVED PLANNING GUIDE: WINTER MARQUEE WEDDINGS
Hello, you wonderful Mrs-Wives-to-be!
Today’s post puts me firmly back into my “Mrs Operations“ shoes and is inspired by my first winter marquee wedding of the year last Saturday.
In the interest of full disclosure, there were quite a few raised eyebrows whenever I told people that I was working with a couple who had a marquee wedding in the bride’s parents’ garden on the Isle of Wight late November. Yep. I can positively hear your jaws drop.
I’ve even met marquee company owners who think winter marquee weddings are star raving mad.
But, and this is a huge but: if planned and executed well, they can work beautifully. Granted, if you end up with a surprise eight inches of snow over night, even the best-laid plans will struggle to maintain the equilibrium, but as the likelihood of that is pretty small, you might just want to chance it.
The one note of caution I would issue is not to scrimp when it comes to picking the marquee company you work with. No offence whatsoever to younger business – we all had to start somewhere and without those first few clients who put their faith in us, none of us would be where we are today.
However, a winter marquee requires someone with a decent amount of experience who will be able to advise you comprehensively, and that’s the kind of knowledge you can’t buy, it’s accumulated over years of practice and (often hard earned) lessons in ‘what not to do’.
And on that note (pretty impressive link-work here, right?), I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt over the years.
All things floors
A slightly raised wooden floor underneath your floor cover of choice is useful regardless of time of year (it helps to avoid soaking wet carpets and girls in heels sinking into the ground). For a winter marquee, it’s an absolute must. It’ll also help to keep the floor that little bit less ‘foot cold’ – not entirely but it all helps.
Cream carpet always looks beautifully chic and ties in with the whole winter wonderland feel. That’s if it doesn’t get marked during the set-up, in which case it’ll be less chic and more grubby. The best way to keep it pristine is to cover it with sticky plastic sheeting and leave that in place for as long as you can during set-up. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to remove it, as that can take quite a while. Start taking off the cover around the edges but leave some paths for suppliers to walk on until set-up is complete. A Stanley knife will be your best friend to speed up the process.
Provide disposable plastic overshoes for your suppliers to wear. You can get a box of 100 for around £3.50 and they’ll be one of those small investments that make all the difference.
I like to run a hoover around the entire marquee when set-up is complete to make it look as immaculate as possible. Just be careful: if there’s a high level of moisture underneath the carpet (or if some areas are outright wet), they can spark the electrics and write off your hoover. A powerful vacuum cleaner can literally suck up any moisture, so keep an eye on it. And better yet, run the heaters for a while beforehand to help dry out some of the residual moisture.
Baby it’s cold inside
Heating will be one of your main concerns – nothing worse than chilly guests. You’ll never get marquee heating 100% evenly distributed but where possible, try to have them dotted around as much as possible.
Talk your marquee company through your table layout so they can avoid having heaters blast out air right behind/next to a table. This will inevitably end up with the guest nearest the heater being sauna-d, asking for the heating to be switched off, whilst the lady on the other side of the next table ends up frozen, asking for it to be switche on again.
At last Saturday’s wedding, one lady’s seat ended up in a ‘heating black spot’ that none of the vents seemed to reach and she was so frozen, she wore her fur coat until half-way through the wedding breakfast. Cue a huge cheer when she was finally warm enough to take off her coat!
A note for you or your coordinator: I always have heat pads and a hot water bottle in my kit so I can at least offer some direct warmth for particularly chilly guests.
And lastly, make sure you invest in plenty of heater fuel so you don’t have to scrimp on having the heating on as much and long as you need to.
With a little help from a friend
It’s not something at lot of couples like to invest in and I get it – weddings are expensive and its an added cost. I have to say though, having had the joy of support staff from the marquee company on-site on the day twice this year made a huge difference. Marquees and all the equipment they come with are hugely complex constructions and, whilst we all learn the odd trick on every event, we wouldn’t be able to fix it if something went seriously wrong. I may me many things but a tentologist I ain’t.
During a late summer wedding, the utterly fabulous Lee was around all day and between us, we worked together beautifully and made it all run that little bit more smoothly. He knows his marquees inside out, so much so that his team call that particular marquee his wife. He’s yet to tell me her name! Granted, we may just have coped without him, but nowhere near as well as we did with him, all of which contributed to a super-sleekly run wedding day.
And as for last Saturday, with gusts of up to 65 mile an hour shaking the marquee to its very core, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to have Robert on-site. Throughout the entire set-up, the gusts were so strong you could hear collective sharp intakes of breath every time a gust sent the chandeliers swinging. Aside from a slightly freak accident of a candle dropping on my head from a great height, all went impeccably throughout the day and I left at 21:00 knowing that, at least in all matters marquee operations, the wedding party was in the safest hands. I’d say for a winter wedding, paying to have support staff on-site is a must.
I could go on but I don’t want this to become a complete essay so I shall leave you with these as my top tips. Don’t forget, if you ever have any questions, I’d be thrilled to be able to help. You know where to find me!
Noodles of love and see you in December. Only 27 days till Christmas!
— Mrs b&g