At the moment it's all about the 'rustic-luxe' look when it comes to wedding marquees (well, it's not ALL about this because couples can do whatever they like - chic, elegant, rustic, garish, glitzy, vulgar and so on - that's the beauty of a marquee wedding).
What we are seeing is a trend emerging for rustic yet classy themes. Marquees without ivory pleated linings with plenty of natural wood furniture, bare wood table tops, coconut matting, hessian drapes, suspended planks of flowers, festoon and edison bulb lighting.
If you aren't going for the ivory pleated lining look there are two options open to you (well three if you include tipis). You could have a clear roof frame/clearspan marquee, or a traditional/pole marquee without lining:
Ivory pleated linings don't need to be completely dismissed because they still work well with clear roof sections to keep things light and airy, plus suspended planks of flowers underneath. Here we have a frame marquee with matting and long wooden tables, central wooden dance floor with clear roof above.
For 2018 we've invested in a new range of wedding chairs which we know will be bridal dynamite over the next few seasons as they're already popular at society weddings in The Hamptons. These natural lime oak French crossback chairs really do hit the 'rustic-luxe' nail firmly on the head. Coupled with long or round solid wood tables we don't think there's a better way to be at the crest of the wedding trend wave.
We stock rustic planks which can be suspended anywhere in frame marquees and between the poles of traditional marquees both with edison bulbs or without. As you can see in the picture below, hessian drapes are effective particularly when partnered with strands of warm white fairy lights. The long tables have white cloths and are joined with ever-popular limewash Chiavari chairs.
We have round and long tables which need cloths but we also have a range of solid wood tables in both round and long too. Here they are:
Reclaimed solid wood table with white trestle legs (natural wood legs also available). Measures 2m long by 90cm wide
Forgive the setting for this photo but new for 2018 are these round versions of our reclaimed solid wood tables with white trestle legs. They seat 10-12 guests
We are also currently working on a round wooden bar measuring roughly 4m in diameter. We already have an illuminated round bar which is very popular but the wooden version will work well with the rustic-luxe look. Look for photos coming soon!
I hope this has been useful. Your wedding marquee doesn't have to reflect the latest trend - I suppose it depends on how much you want your photos to kick around on Pinterest and various wedding blogs once your big day has passed. Whatever boxes you want to tick, Oakleaf Marquees have the bits and bobs to help you tick them!
Gone are the days when marquees could only be fitted out with coconut matting on level ground. Now we can offer flooring in any colour, vinyl to create the effect of wood and supply a dead level floor regardless of how bumpy or sloping the ground is underneath. Don't get me wrong, coconut matting is still an ever-popular option, particularly for events seeking a rustic feel and it works wonderfully with our tipi installations.
All marquee floors begin with a plastic membrane to keep moisture and various ground-dwelling creatures at bay. It's a nice idea to have grass as the floor to keep it natural (and Pinterest is packed with lovely marquee pictures with grass flooring) but in practice we've yet to experience this, certainly not at any formal party or wedding. Many Pinterest photos were taken in the USA or Italy where the weather is a tad more reliable than ours unfortunately!
The entry level flooring option is to have coconut matting (coir, hessian, seagrass, call it what you will) or what we term 'stock carpet'. Stock carpet is likely to have been used at an event previously but this doesn't mean it'll arrive covered in wedding cake, hog roast and holes made by stiletto heels. Our stock carpet is light brown and dark grey but occasionally we have other colours such as dark green. Matting is the nice natural, goldy/beige colour which many brides adore, not the green/orange striped stuff you see from time to time.
Raspberry coloured carpet? Why not...
The next step up is to have new carpet. This is a bit more expensive but it means a) it'll be brand new and lie perfectly flat and b) you can choose any colour you wish. We supply a lot of cream/champagne carpets at weddings over the summer. A favourite shade of ours is coffee because it provides contrast with the linings and doesn't mark as easily. White carpets come with plastic film attached which can be ripped off at the last minute.
Now we're talking! Solid flooring is great not only because it makes walking around inside the marquee easier and stabilises tables, it also reduces the impact on the grass underneath by allowing it to breath and protecting it against excessive footfall.
The first tier of solid flooring is plastic tile flooring which sits a little under an inch off the ground but makes the surface nice and firm (stiletto lovers go mad for it). It doesn't eliminate bumps or slopes and should really be seen as a 'surface hardening' solution only. The next tier is our most popular solid floor option: wooden boarded floor. This sits higher than plastic flooring which keeps your carpet (and feet) away from any nasty rainfall and puddles and is ideal for eliminating smaller bumps and dips. Finally, we have steel sub-flooring and cassette flooring (the Rolls-Royce of marquee flooring) which can eliminate slopes and dips, span hedges and streams and so on.
We don't supply matting or stock carpet for use with solid flooring, it has to be used in conjunction with new carpet.
Mow that lawn Mr Gardener...
Bear in mind that unless you opt for a solid floor system, your marquee floor will only be as good as the grass that's underneath it. If the grass is ankle length then the matting/carpet will feel springy underfoot and the flooring won't look dead level. The shorter the grass can be mown the better (rolling is always a good plan too). Make sure the final mow is three or four days before the marquee is installed as blades of cut grass get everywhere, including on our shiny white marquees. You can always mow around the marquee once it's installed.
We’re often asked to recommend options for marquee layouts which we’re happy to do because we use specialist CAD software that can produce 2D and 3D plans. Some customers have a clear visualisation in their heads from the start but for others it can be a bit stressful, particularly if they haven't planned a large event before.
The first thing to remember is that you’re in the driving seat. We can recommend and advise but at the end of the day it’s your marquee and event so you can position things wherever you like (which is one of the big attractions of marquees). If you’d like to try a ‘drag and drop’ marquee planner online, we recommend this website where you can print, save and email your plan.
You’ll need to allocate space to the following when planning your marquee layout:
-Dining tables (round, square and long are the usual options)
-Top table, if required (long, round, curved or oval)
-Bar (we recommend 3m x 3m for every 150 guests)
-Dance floor (at the end of the marquee or in the middle)
-Band and DJ areas (stage?)
-Chill-out/lounge/break out area
-Reception area i.e. a covered area where guests can stand and enjoy drinks but not huddle around tables. The dance floor and surrounding area can be utilised for this if you wish
-Space for evening guests (no extra space is required unless you’re expecting in excess of 100 additional evening guests)
-Other (photo booth, chocolate fountain, present/buffet tables etc)
We encourage customers to think of their marquee in thirds:
-Reception, bar and chill-out area (nearest the entrance)
-Dance floor (the party area)
Sense of space is a subjective thing. Too little space and it can feel cramped and uncomfortable whereas too much space can dampen the atmosphere and make guests feel isolated. We will help you to achieve a balance.
The most successful marquee layouts flow nicely between areas and don’t create bottlenecks which make the event feel disjointed. You’ll need to be mindful of how your guests like to party – are they the type that like to stand and chat all night, prop the bar up or dance until dawn? If the first two, having the bar and entrance at one end might not be a good idea because guests will congregate there and potentially ignore the dance floor. It might be better to have the entrance in the middle with bar, dance floor on one side and tables on the other.
You’ll need to be mindful of where the best views are from your marquee and where windows should be placed. This is a moot point for evening events unless you have outside lighting in place but for daytime events you’ll probably want table and reception areas to have the best views available.
Do you position the bar at the far end or have it near the dance floor? We’ve seen both options work well and it really depends on how much your guests like to drink and dance (and both at the same time). Having the bar near the dance floor encourages guests to dance with their drinks but smashed glasses on the dance floor is not much fun. If this can be minimised and you’d like the bar to be an integral part of your event then it can work very well.
There is an element of theatre here. What is the first thing you want your guests to see when they enter the marquee? Tables? Bar? View? We like to see a bit of empty space for people to congregate in, browse the seating plan and admire the view.
Given our fantastic yet slightly challenging climate, it is a very good idea to plan for bad weather. If you’re planning to have a drinks reception outside the marquee, what will you do if it rains? Is there space in the marquee and will you let guests stand on the dance floor or force them to huddle around tables? Distance to toilets and parking will need thinking through. If it’s windy and you don’t have doors on your marquee it would be wise to position entrances/exits so they aren’t facing into the wind.
If you're planning a wedding, you'll want to ensure that everyone is as close to the action as possible and that they can see the top table easily during the speeches. Nobody likes to be on the draughty table by the entrance which is furthest from the bridal party!
A difficult question, a bit like being asked which one of my parents I like most! I don't have a favourite - all have their own charm.
Tipis are increasingly popular because one of the priorities with weddings is the desire to do something different and original. Many of us have been to a wedding in a white marquee whether it be a pole or frame structure whereas a wedding in a tipi is a new experience for most. However, all our marquee styles allow customers to bring them to life in their own way - there is virtually no restriction on decorations. We've installed wallpapered walls, water features, topiary, different carpet colours, Moroccan linings and lanterns, coloured drapes and so much more over the years. That's one of the key reasons people choose a marquee wedding.
Tipis can be a bit more cosy by virtue of the fact that there's less roof space (due to the conical design) and you can have real fires inside thanks to the flaps at the top that allow smoke out. You don't get one big space with tipis as you do with marquees because they are smaller (10.3m diameter) structures joined together, so depending on layout the event can feel slightly divided. Having said that, I'm sure we've all been to rocking house parties where several rooms are involved, some with music playing, others for chilling out, the kitchen for drink and snack selection, which never seemed to affect the atmosphere negatively at the time.
What I really like about tipis is the timbers we use which are de-barked spruce from the freezing forests of Scandinavia and all 80+ years old. Furthermore, tipis have been used by humans for 4000+ years and I love that sense of sitting in a piece of history. Traditional white pole marquees are very English and suitable for quintessential country wedding experiences and clearspan frame marquees are extremely flexible in terms of layout and interior fixtures and fittings - both attributes I like.
Tipis are darker inside due to the canvas used, so if you're after an event space that's light and airy then perhaps a tipi isn't the best choice. Also, you don't get the many window options as you do with a conventional marquee - if you want to look out at a view the sides need to be raised which is great in summer but not ideal if it's raining and windy.
Whichever structure you choose for your event, you can rest assured that you will get the best standard from us and we'll happily meet with you to introduce our range and listen to your ideas. Oakleaf Marquees are renowned throughout Dorset, Somerset and across the South West for the hire of marquees and tipis. A quality service, premium product and approachable pricing.
We use a professional CAD programme to create our 2D and 3D marquee plans but you may want to play around with options yourself in order to get a sense of space. Our friends at County Marquees in London have a great online planning tool which can be found here. If you want to hire a marquee in the South West please choose Oakleaf Marquees but if you need one in London or the Home Counties we can recommend County (we have no intention of expanding anywhere near the congestion charging zone......or the M25 for that matter!).