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!