Please like me on Facebook or retweet on Twitter!! I know some of you are probably groaning at the sight of another blog post, but I committed to posting once a day for a couple of weeks and that's exactly what I'm going to do (you had the weekend off to recover).
Forgive the shameful Facebook or Twitter mention above, but since the first post I've noticed less 'likes' and retweets. This could be because I've been posting around midnight, or perhaps my posts are rubbish, or maybe people are afraid to 'like' in case they think it makes them look like a social media stalker.......or could it be that if you 'like' the first post you think it absolves you from any future likings and retweetings? Come on people, where's the love? Thank you Mandy for being my most committed 'liker' to date!
Other than on this blog it seems, there is a huge amount that can be learnt by reading blogs and stories of other brides and grooms that have used marquees. And not just marquee pearls of wisdom - there's shoes, dresses, cakes, photographers, table centres and all the other good stuff that makes brides go weak at the knees!
Being involved in weddings is one of the most satisfying jobs a person can have. Viewing our many testimonials and pictures brings a nostalgic smile to the face, and another thing I like doing when in need of a self-indulgent pick-me-up is browsing the many blogs Oakleaf is mentioned on. Here I've put together a selection that I think are not only lovely, but interesting and helpful too. Enjoy!
-First up, Laura and Peter's pretty vintage wedding near Beaminster:
The English Wedding Blog
-Then onto Nikki and Sven's wedding by the sea in Studland:
Lisa Dawn Photography
-And Lizzie and Duncan's wedding by the sea in West Bexington:
-Sarah and Adrian's 'fun and quirky' wedding in Sherborne:
-Naomi and Ally who did it their way (with a Chinese twist) in Symondsbury:
Beauty by Emily Faith
-Kat and Rich's sunshine, socks and spotty shoes English country wedding at Chettle House:
-Becka and Chris's intimate garden wedding with only 9 guests in Morden:
-Mary and Steve's vintage themed wedding in Broadmayne:
Hope you find some useful ideas and inspiration on these blogs.
Finally, some words of advice from one of our brides mentioned above (Adele): "It’s never too early to book the suppliers for your wedding, the sooner you start the process the better to make sure you get the right people on board without compromising, we wouldn’t have changed the people we worked with for the world." And that's what makes weddings so satisfying.
Thanks for reading, liking and retweeting!
Dear Tim, Ed, Julie and the team,
Just wanted to write and thank you so much for the beautiful marquee you conjured up for our wedding. It was everything we had hoped for - and more! - and played a large part in an unforgettable day. It fitted beautifully into a, thankfully sunny(!), Somerset garden wedding during the afternoon and then transformed itself in the evening to suit the dancing and music...with the outside tree lighting adding to the atmosphere. We had a number of guests who have been to quite a few social events held in marquees in their time and the view was that this was the best marquee they had seen - thought you might like to hear that!
The week leading up to the wedding was not without its challenges, to put it mildly, and I don't think your team will forget the rain and mud that meant problems getting kit and trailers into the nearby field....not to mention the flooding in the garden under the wooden floor! Ed and his team did everything they could to make sure the marquee was ready, working three long days, much of it under lights as they continued into the night. Every problem was dealt with and their 'can-do' attitude went a long way to keeping us calm that week. Their professionalism continued as the marquee was dismantled with the promise that we 'would not know the marquee had been there' being fulfilled totally ...try as we might, we have not found one tie or fastener...nor any of those little sparkly diamonds that had been scattered all over the tables!
Your team as a whole worked incredibly well together, from Julie in the office answering my initial constant stream of questions with much patience and all the different members of the team erecting the marquee, overseen superbly by Ed, through to the coordination of outside agencies such as loo hire and emergency field matting. Being able to trust our chosen suppliers when drawing together all the strings of the wedding that week was something we greatly appreciated and made such a difference to our family's enjoyment of the wedding day itself.
So thank you for doing such a superb job...and for helping to make some very lovely memories for us all.
(PS Have no problem if you wish to use this as a testimonial for future clients. If we have some suitable pictures come through in the coming weeks I'll send them on in case you would like to use any of them.)
Most quotes are made on the assumption that the marquee is going on grass, so please let us know in advance if the marquee is going on a hard surface.
Traditional marquees can't go on hard surfaces unfortunately because they rely entirely on long stakes hammered into the ground (unless the footprint of the marquee matches the size of the hard surface and there is mud/grass around the entire perimeter). Clearspan (frame) marquees can go on hard surfaces, but there are two important issues you need to consider:
Stop the marquee becoming airborne
Thankfully we've never had a marquee 'go airborne' and only two or three staff have been presented with their 'marquee wings' i.e. they've been lifted off the ground by a gust. When marquees are on grass, each leg is held down by a yard long stake, sometimes two. On hard surfaces, you can't do this. Before you read on, take a look at this clip on YouTube (a clip that is forever etched on my brain and keeps me up at night whenever I hear the wind howling).
The marquee in the clip weighs 2 tons and it takes a wooden floor with it. Scary stuff. But the clip is designed to educate, not intimidate (nice rhyme!).
There are four ways to prevent a marquee flying off:
1) Guy ropes. Assuming there is softer ground nearby that surrounds the marquee, use ratchet straps as guy ropes attached to the top of each leg and running down to stakes 1-2m away from the marquee. Cost: £0
2) Bolting it to the ground. This involves us drilling 10mm wide, 150mm deep holes for each leg (two per leg on 12m and 15m wide structures). Legs are positioned every 3m around the perimeter and the holes can easily be filled afterwards. Cost: ££s
3) Weighing the marquee down. Amazingly, in order for a marquee to withstand 80mph plus and be in line with manufacturer's guidelines, marquee legs need to have 750-1000kg of weight on EACH leg! This can be achieved with either water weights (IBC 1000 litre water containers) or concrete blocks. Cost: £££s
4) Attach the marquee to a sub-frame floor system. The marquee bolts into a made-to-measure steel frame and then wooden boards are slotted in place. The weight of the frame and boards prevents the marquee from causing a nuisance to air traffic. Cost: ££££s
Stop rain water soaking into the carpet
On grass, rain water just soaks into the soil and drains away (unless it's extremely heavy). On hard surfaces, it forms puddles and hangs around until it evaporates. This is all well and good, but puddles have a habit of growing if the rain is persistent or heavy and they can creep under marquee walls and start soaking into carpet. Once the soaking in starts, it's very hard to stop and before you know it, the whole carpet is soggy.
There are two preventative measures:
1) Have a wooden boarded floor which sits on battens meaning the carpet is elevated a couple of inches off the ground and rain water can pass freely beneath. Cost £££-££££s depending on size.
2) Have a sub-frame floor system which does the same as the wooden boarded floor above but elevates the carpet even further. Cost: ££££s
Finally, there are a few steps that hirers can take to minimise the effects of wind too:
1) Keep an eye on the forecast (I like XC Weather).
2) Don't choose very exposed locations at potentially stormy times of the year.
3) Keep all entrances/exits closed and fastened tight to prevent wind getting inside.
4) Keep an eye on stakes/guy ropes/bolts each day to make sure they haven't worked their way loose or become slack.
About an hour to go before Bath beat Leicester at rugby, so I thought I'd sneak a blog post in.
We get asked to recommend caterers all of the time and in the West Country we're spoilt for choice both in terms of caterers and the wonderful local produce they work with (meat, cheese, seafood, bread, the list goes on). We've worked with many of them and this list certainly isn't exhaustive, it's just a selection we can highly recommend.
Thyme After Time (Stalbridge)
Our nearest and dearest! Margot not only caters for events but she also has a very successful cafe and food shop at Spire hill farm just off the A357 between Sturminster Newton and Stalbridge which holds regular events itself (so you can go and check them out covertly!). Margot has great vision and excels at creating menus that are personal to her customers. Highly recommended.
Claire's Catering (Yeovil)
We met Claire at one of the first wedding jobs we ever did where she provided a proper wedding breakfast i.e. eggs benedict, smoked salmon, traditional full English etc (because the wedding was at 11.30am) followed by a succulent hog roast in the evening. Claire also runs the Orchard Food & Coffee Shop in Yeovil at the top of town opposite HSBC.
Rebecca Green (Piddletrenthide)
I met Rebecca because she was worried her catering tent might blow away (September 2011 at the top of a hill near Evershot on a VERY windy day). Off I went and I'm glad I did: free venison dinner for Timbo (perfectly cooked) and washed down with Belvoir sparkling ginger beer (love that stuff) followed by her famous honeycomb ice cream. Wow. I always make the effort to attend weddings she's cooking at, including one at Mapperton House where the venison made another appearance following a sharing platter of local meats and other goodies. Double wow. I've often thought I should just give up on buying food over the summer and just drift from event to event....
The Olive Bowl (Gillingham)
We regularly see our friends from the Olive Bowl on the event battlefield, particularly at Chaffeymoor Grange in Bourton where we are both preferred suppliers. They offer an extremely varied and exceptional service at good prices.
Dine In (Bournemouth)
Roberto is a lovely guy who works tirelessly to exceed expectations. One of the preferred suppliers at Sherborne Castle, his prices are very reasonable and he also has an extensive list of hire equipment (glasses, crockery, cutlery, kitchen equipment etc).
Rabbit and Rose
R&R are a very professionally run outfit. We see them a lot over the course of the year, the last time was at Lulworth Castle where they served an evening selection of fish and chips and the BEST cheese toasties in christendom. In reality, they offer far more than cheese toasties (I'm obviously quite easily pleased) and every customer who has engaged us both for their job has sung their praises afterwards.
Victoria Blashford-Snell (Wincanton)
Victoria is one of the finest event caterers in the business. She is also an acclaimed author.
Finally, how about mixing it up with some English wine at your event? "What?!" I hear you cry in disbelief. Yes, I did say English wine, and despite what you may think there is some great stuff around (part of Sussex has the same chalk soil as the Champagne region don't you know). Most local is English Oak Vineyard near Poole but my personal favourite is a little further away in East Anglia - Wyken Vineyard who produce a sparkling wine called 'Wyken Moonshine' - really worth a try. Then of course there's Ridgeview and Hush Heath who have recently out-champagned Champagne in international competitions. See, not such a bad idea after all. Give your guests a real talking point!
Happy weekend and keep eating and drinking my friends!
A bit late with my daily post......but better late than never (my usual refrain when I turn up at site visits). I decided to go to the cinema with police officer and occasional marquee rigger Ed 'Imhotep' Messinger this evening and saw Anchorman 2 and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug back-to-back. A bit geeky I know but I wanted to see them before they left the big screen. Good films and lots of snacks enjoyed by all.
Anyway, to business (and given the time it will be a short one). With this post I just wanted to give a shout out to some of the suppliers local to us who we encounter most weeks and that provide such a brilliant service.
Starting with the closest, there's RS1 Security and Autospray on the same site as us. A short distance up the road there's O & O Engineering who do such a good job keeping our trusty Land Rover Defenders in the best of health.
Then there's Events Crew who supply a great deal of useful event equipment such as tower lights, generators, electrics, fencing, staging and more; and Ford Fuels where we get our texas tea. Henstridge Golf Club always provides a good welcome if you fancy swinging the old wrenches, shooting pool or swigging back the Thatchers Gold. It's one of the Oakleaf team's favourite hangouts. We also love borrowing stuff from the friendly team at Dorset Aquatics and they certainly love reciprocating.
Heading into Stalbridge there's Stalbridge Building Supplies that keep us stocked to the brim with 150mm nails, M10 bolts and wing nuts, tape measures (I lose at least one of these a month) and sledge hammers (we broke loads of these in 2013 thanks to the dry weather). John and his team at the Ring Street Filling Station always welcome you with a smile and a good range of, well, everything (fuel, food, car bits, home bits etc).
Stalbridge is of course home to two great institutions (three if you include me): Dikes, the BEST independent supermarket (in fact best supermarket full stop) in Dorset if not the country! Love the homemade scotch eggs (perhaps a little too much), range of ales (not on the way to work), energy drinks (definitely on the way to work), the Italian bagels, the rotisserie.....I just love it all. The other is the Blackmore Vale Magazine, a wonderful resource for all local folks. I wish Meaders the hardware store was still going, but it isn't. Damn I miss those green aprons!
The other two places worth a mention are the Riverside Cafe at West Stour (home of the mental breakfast......say no more!) and Harts of Stur, a wonderful shop where we get cable ties, bulbs, floor polish and other bits and pieces.
Stay classy people and keep shopping local!
One thing that often gets left to the last minute is power. This is because many people don't understand the power required to run an event and how to calculate watts, volts, amps, single phase, three phase and the equipment required to make it happen.
Before starting Oakleaf Marquees I used a marquee for my wedding reception (which was the catalyst......but that's another story) and I believed it would be possible to simply run a few cables from the house (a common misconception). The caterer told me this would be a bad idea in her experience, so I approached a local generator hire company. It was a tiresome experience, as if I was learning a new language from scratch. So here are a few pointers to help the uninitiated!
POINTER 1: Do your sums
Firstly, find out what power is available at your venue: how many sockets, what sort of sockets they are (in amps) and, if the sockets are 13amp or 16amp, how many ring mains there are and what the maximum load of each is (in watts). It's also useful to know how far the sockets are from the marquee.
Secondly, ask your suppliers what equipment they are bringing and how many watts each requires (3,000 watts is 3kw by the way). Also, get an idea of how many sockets they'll need to plug into, where they'll be required in the marquee and give some thought to the timetable for the day so you can work out what's likely to be used concurrently in order to establish a max figure to work with.
If your venue is a residential house, it's likely you'll have a handful of 13amp sockets running on just one ring main. Most ring mains are around 7,500 watts (7.5kw). So if you have a loo trailer (needs 3kw), an urn to make hot drinks (another 3kw) and lights inside the marquee (1kw plus), you're nearly at the max of what the ring main can deal with.......and that's not including any appliances that happen to be on inside the house. This is why caterers wince when you mention powering everything from the house! It's also worth checking that the house's power supply is reliable. Depending on how much power you need, an electrician may be able to wire a supply directly into the fuse box.
If your venue hosts events regularly, it's likely it'll have a beefy supply already installed (like Harry Warren House andMapperton House for example). There will probably be several (blue) 16amp sockets, or a couple of 32amp, or even a 63amp socket. Check whether the socket covers are blue or red (the latter indicates that it's a three phase supply which I won't bore you about now).
We are always happy to help you out with power. Often this is covered at the site visit.
POINTER 2: Some event equipment needs a lot of juice
As touched on above, anything electrical that heats (hot cupboards, urns, turbo ovens, hot lamps, fat fryers etc) use a lot of power. Allow 3kw per appliance to be on the safe side. We once did a job and the caterer had ten electrical appliances on the go because of the complex (and incredible) menu! That equated to nearly 30kw of power - or, to put it another way, 4 regular houses worth of power!! The 'standard' catering spec is in reality around 6-12kw.
Large appliances such as toilet trailers and chiller/freezer trailers use lots of juice too, 3-3.5kw each.
Generally speaking, bands and DJs don't pose too many power problems unless their sound systems are enormous (and we've only encountered an enormous system once).
POINTER 3: Don't cut it too fine
It would be very tiresome if your event suddenly loses power because the house dishwasher cuts in or someone flushes the loo in the loo trailer. Always add a contingency figure just in case and never leave it down to the last couple of hundred watts. Power outages are not fun: loos stop working, it goes very dark, some start screaming, it goes very quiet and even the drunker guests know something's wrong!
POINTER 4: Generators
As you've hopefully done the research covered above, you're nearly there! We can provide 45kva (36kw) modern and super-silent generators that come with a distribution board, cables, sockets, 20-24hrs worth of fuel and delivery/collection for £450+VAT, so you could just hire one from us - job done! Alternatively, you might not need a generator quite so big (you may even need one bigger) in which case we recommend the friendly and knowledgable guys at CES Poole.
You could also try one of the chains like Brandon Tool Hire or HSS but make sure you compare like-for-like: do their quotes include fuel, cables and everything else listed above? Are they available 24/7 if something goes wrong? Also, one important generator point: ensure that whatever you hire is 240v and NOT the building site spec 110v (with tell-tale yellow sockets) - that would be a hell of a mistaka-to-maka.
A common question we get asked is 'how noisy are your generators'. Well, they do make a little noise but it isn't offensive and once you have 50 plus people in the marquee, you'll never notice. Space allowing we can position the generator up to 25m away from the marquee too.
The Manor Hotel in West Bexington near Bridport is a venue we visit regularly. It's very popular for weddings because of the amazing sea views it enjoys over Chesil Beach (just 300 metres away), the fine 16th century building with lovely bedrooms, cosy fires and an equally warm welcome. The weather that awaited our installation was anything but cosy and warm.
Installation took place on Thursday 13th February. Strong gale force winds and heavy rain had been forecast for the following day all week (a recurring and tiresome feature of Autumn/Winter 2013/14). We therefore took preventative measures: pinning the legs with multiple stakes, four one-ton water weights, plenty of ratchet straps for guy ropes, an intricate network of gutters and infills connecting the marquee to the hotel building (courtesy of Ed 'Screwfix' Hunter) and nerves of steel. A wooden boarded floor was laid which raised the carpet a couple of inches off the floor thereby allowing water to pass underneath and not saturate the carpet. Two powerful thermostat controlled marquee heaters were provided with a third on standby. The inside looked lovely with paper lanterns, uplights, panoramic windows making the most of the view, bunting, pristine white chair covers and pink/blue sashes from 5 Star Celebrations and parquet dance floor.
Sure enough, the following day the weather was horrific as predicted. Roads were closed due to flooding, West Bay was more or less shut down and lorries blown off the road, but Team Oakleaf still got a crew on site to hold nervous hands through the weather misery. Being just 300 metres from the sea, it's fair to say the marquee took its fair share of buffeting, particularly overnight when it reached 80mph. But the marquee held strong even though two large trees within a few hundred yards were brought crashing to earth. On the way home, struggling to find a route through the battered countryside, the Oakleaf van met a ram in the road that decided to pick a fight with the front of the trusty Transit. Thankfully, neither were damaged and our behorned friend moved away into the night.
Once the storm passed in the early hours of Saturday morning, the weather rapidly improved and the couple were able to have the wedding they dreamed of with sunny spells and virtually no wind, all within a cosy, inviting and frankly miraculous Oakleaf marquee.
We don't have a FAQ section on our website, but now we have a blog post!
When will the marquee be installed and removed?
For Saturday events we generally install on Wednesdays and Thursdays and remove on Mondays and Tuesdays. We can be flexible if our schedule allows and often install on Tuesdays and Fridays and occasionally remove on Sundays too.
Can I use the marquee on Sunday too?
Yes, Sunday use is included as part of the deal.
Will I need a generator?
See previous blog post on event power here.
Can I take the walls/windows off if it's hot?
Yes, all our marquees are designed to have the walls and windows opened if it's hot (our clearspan marquee panels open up like curtains). If it's very hot, they can be removed altogether within a minute or two.
Do the tables come with cloths?
What size do I need?
This depends on what you want to house inside the marquee: tables, bar, dance floor, band/DJ area, chill-out zone, buffet tables, chocolate fountain, photo booth etc. The rule of thumb is that a round table of 10 takes up 9 square metres. The best thing is for us to create a 3D layout plan so you can visualise space and layout. We don't recommend having tables on the dance floor if you can avoid it.
Will the marquee do any damage to our lawn?
There will be some temporary grass discolouration, particularly over the summer, but it'll bounce back within a couple of weeks. We also have to hammer yard long stakes into the ground to stop the marquee flying away so there will be some minor holes here and there. We try to minimise the effects of having a marquee as much as possible.
What if something goes wrong on the day?
Call our India office! Joking aside, we have a 24/7 call out service in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
What if I have a tree or another obstruction in the way?
This isn't always a problem depending on the size of the obstacle. Small trees, bushes, ponds and flower beds can make nice features when incorporated inside a marquee.
If we need to cancel, will we get our deposit back?
If you give us more than a year's notice, yes. If less than a year we will do our best to fill the slot with another booking and, if successful, you'll get it back minus an admin fee. Please bear in mind that our work is seasonal and we are often fully booked from May to September. We therefore have a set number of slots to fill and cancellations often leave us with a gap we can't fill.
How soon do I need to book a marquee?
As soon as possible ideally, particularly if your event date is on a bank holiday weekend. We don't have infinite stocks so if you book well in advance you are more likely to get all your first choices.
Can you erect marquees on uneven, sloping ground or hard standing?
Yes, our marquees can go on most surfaces although traditional pole marquees can't go on hard standing. For more information see this previous blog post which deals with marquees on hard standing and slopes.
How do I know if the slope is too severe for a marquee?
It's not so much the marquee but guest comfort that is the issue with slopes. If you sit on a patio chair on the most sloping bit and feel like your falling off the chair and bread rolls roll off the table, it's too severe. We're always happy to come and survey the site. Slopes can be corrected with a sub-frame floor, but it's not cheap.
Once the marquee is up, can it be moved?
It can be moved but it is likely to cost extra and the longer you delay the decision the costlier it will be. Thankfully we aren't presented with this scenario often!
What wind speed can your marquees withstand?
They are tested in winds in excess of 80mph, so they're very strong.
Do your marquees leak?
Do I need heaters?
If your event is from mid September to mid May then yes, it's likely you'll need at least one heater. Over the summer months they are occasionally used but just to take off the evening chill.
Do I have to provide the marquee team with tea and biscuits?
No, but it is of course appreciated, especially on cold and wet days. We've been the lucky recipients of cold drinks, ice creams, cakes, bacon rolls, fish and chips and even whole meals in the past!
Something a bit more lighthearted today. We all love a bit of 'You've Been Framed' style humour, so here is a collection of my favourite marquee related mishaps on YouTube.
Please don't worry if you have a marquee booked or if you're thinking of booking a marquee, the mishaps were caused by freak weather overseas and flimsy or poorly installed marquees. We've never experienced a marquee blowing away or falling down.....and one of our marquees was up at Lulworth in 80mph winds just before Christmas!
First up, my favourite clip. Too much free reception champers and wine for this lady in red (and Chris de Burgh certainly won't be singing about her drunken escapades any time soon). I wonder if the bride and groom ever spoke to her afterwards? Doubtful....
Next, this little garden marquee certainly gives its owners the run around. It's as if it has a mind of its own and just decides to move location!
Another of my favourites, this one happened stateside. On a more positive note, at least the guests have smiles on their faces and everyone looks like they bonded in a sort of team building exercise way!
What do you do when your neighbour's marquee looks like it's about to blow away? Answer A: run round, tell them and possibly help or Answer B: grab your phone, take a video of their misery and hope you can make some sweet moolah? You may have seen this one, it happened in the UK a month or two ago and was covered in the news.
On the subject of grabbing phones to record the havoc, these folks look more interested in getting a dramatic video than either helping or running for their lives.
That's about enough revelling in other people's grief. For a more comforting marquee video experience, check out these videos of Oakleaf marquees being installed (no mishaps - I promise): traditional marquee wedding at home or wedding at a Dorset vineyard (the gazebo in this video is not ours!).
In a word........rubbish. I know we're in 2014 now and last year was 2013 but I feel we all have something to learn from the events of 2012.
Firstly, as you know, the weather was appalling. Other than a hot period towards the end of May when we were all scorched to oblivion and two or three consecutively nice Saturdays in September, it literally felt like it rained all summer. A rainy and miserable day is the recurring nightmare of anyone that books a marquee. For me, the rainy weather reached a particular low point on the 6th and 7th July. We had marquees up in Weymouth, Pulham, Dorchester, Horningsham and Honiton. A month's rain fell in South Dorset in 24 hours and Bridport was practically closed for the day.
Marquees can flood. There, I said it, and that's exactly what happened to the wedding marquee we had down in Weymouth. I'll never forget it. Drainage at the site wasn't great (mainly because of the huge amount of rainfall that had occurred in the two months leading up to it) and there were slopes on 3 of the 4 sides. Heavy rain rolled in and little puddles started appearing on the Friday afternoon. Big puddles started appearing soon after.....eventually turning into one giant puddle. Needless to say, there were tears. So, a team laid a wooden floor overnight with new carpet and left the marquee at nearly 5am on the Saturday. The show MUST go on (and in the end the marquee looked incredible).
There are steps that can be taken to ensure that heavy rain doesn't ruin your day:
1) check how the site drains when it rains heavily or persistently
2) avoid positioning a marquee at the foot of a slope if the forecast looks awful
3) consider having a wooden floor which raises the carpet a couple of inches off the ground so rain doesn't soak into it (we can often supply this at short notice)
4) if you're having a drinks reception, use the dance floor area of the marquee or allow extra space so you don't have to huddle around the tables. You can think of the marquee in three sections: reception/dining/dancing and each can be divided by a reveal curtain if you wish
5) consider having matting/carpet for paths so shoes don't get muddy
6) buy a few golf umbrellas from a place like Sports Direct (£2-3 each) so guests can move
between the marquee and toilets/house in the dry (this is cheaper than having a covered walkway or putting the loo in a dedicated marquee)
LESSON 1: plan for wet weather, hope for sunshine
You would think that the bride and groom had their fill of bad luck what with their marquee flooding. But that wasn't the end of it. In the early hours of the morning, thieves entered their marquee and removed cards, gifts and cash in cards to the value of £2,000. I cannot even begin to describe how low those thieves are. It just shows the kind of people that exist out there.
LESSON 2: remove all valuables from marquees unless you're confident the site is secure
Our warehouse was broken into in mid June. It came as a bit of a hammer blow to my spirits because I hadn't experienced being the victim of thievery since school and when you throw your heart and soul into something you just can't believe that others will treat it with such disregard. Anyway, they took our washing machine, my gas barbecue (wedding gift) and a few other minor bits. But the thing that really hurt was that they took our first van, the trusty Iveco Daily 2008, and burnt it out just a few miles up the road. I won't get too carried away because I don't intend to use bad language on my new blog. All I'll say is check out event industry legend Grumpy Joe's thoughts on dealing with thieves: Grumpy Joe's Dung-slinger
LESSON 3: buy a dung-slinger. If that fails, consult Jasper Carrott's advice on dealing with moles
This post is probably striking you as being pretty gloomy. 2012 wasn't all gloomy. We had our first child, the Olympics were inspirational and we were involved in many, many lovely events. One that comes to mind is the 100th birthday party we provided a marquee for in Mere. The only access was through a neighbours garden, across their patio, over a 5ft stone wall, then a carry of 100ft up another garden. 5 tons of kit......in November. We felt like the Oakleaf Marquees field gun team (and definitely would have beaten Portsmouth or Devonport). The customers took such care of us - fish and chips on day one, homemade pasta on day two. Here is the feedback we received:
"Your outfit exemplifies perfectly the qualities people in the service industry need to have - I really can't tell you how amazing it was to have such extraordinarily helpful people around. And I meant it when I said that if you ever have enquirers dithering about whether to use you or not, just put them in touch with me and I will tell them exactly what the experience was like. What I won't tell them - and which impressed me HUGELY - was that you didn't press us for a deposit knowing it was for a 100th birthday that might or might not happen. Quite unnecessarily nice of you but so much appreciated!"
I'll finish on a few more positives. If it does rain on your event, the good news is that guests tend to be inside having a good time as opposed to being scattered around outside. Also, you'll have a good conversation ice breaker.......and we've noticed that alcohol flows a bit more freely when it's raining.
LESSON 4: if it rains, there's still a bar to be enjoyed
Thanks for reading!