Marquees epitomise everything an English summer wedding stands for. They are timeless, elegant and can offer complete flexibility when creating a bespoke space for your wedding day.
Marquees are a blank canvas and you need to be bold in your decisions when designing their internal decor. What most people forget is the power of flowers and how they literally can turn a simple marquee into something magical and completely unique to you and your wedding.
As a florist I have learnt that there are a few key factors when creating floral designs for a marquee. So here are my top five for your consideration.
1) High and low
One way to create interest and intrigue is to mix up the height of focal points. To achieve this you need to vary the heights of your table centres throughout from low candle arrangements to high pomander balls. This will create a range of heights and therefore focal points which will force your guests eyes to travel around the room.
2) Swing from the ceiling
Combining the height of your marquee and beautiful floral design can create spectacular focal points. Consider giant flower bombs suspended above your guests or a ceiling covered in suspended blooms. Don't forget you can decorate the tops of traditional marquee poles, create floral chandeliers and set up hanging flower beams perfect for decorations over the top table.
3) Bring in the garden
One easy and immediate way to link the inside of the marquee to its outdoor location is to install potted living trees, shrubs and plants. Placing these planted pots around entrances, the bar or even the dance floor will add a level of interest and help distinguish different areas within the marquee.
4) Budget vs impact
People automatically imagine that creating a visual spectacle with flowers will be costly and I will admit that it can be. But, this is where it is so important to work with your florist and discuss where your budget is best spent. For me this is vital and careful consideration on where you are going to spend your budget will make or break the look of your marquee. For example; do you put a standard and average table decoration on each of your fifteen tables? Or would you be better spending that money on just seven breathtaking table arrangements, which are just so beautiful people can't take their eyes off them? This is where you should work with your florist and let them come up with a number of suggestions for you.
5) Other than roses
Don't believe that floral design has to be just flowers, you can work with your florist to create alternative designs, which most of the time can spread the budget further. Flower bombs of Autumn foliage can look just as beautiful as one filled with roses! You can create height with vases of bare winter twigs or seasonal table centres with forced bulbs.
Finally, I truly believe that flowers turn a marquee into something truly magical if used properly. It is always important to coordinate your entire look with lighting, linen, chairs, carpet and draping. This is why I would always suggest that whichever florist you choose, make sure that they work closely with your marquee company so together they can create a final look that is better than you could have ever imagined.
Thanks to Emma Whicher of Martha and the Meadow, Dorset wedding and event florist for this helpful and inspiring article.
We love a new wedding venue and this one is right up our street quite literally in terms of both appeal and location! Haddon Copse Farm occupies a breathtaking setting in the rolling valleys of the Blackmore Vale framed by beautiful unspoilt views that stretch for miles towards Bulbarrow Hill. It's the perfect spot for a festival theme or country wedding experience.
But it's not just the location that Haddon Copse Farm has going for it. Camping is permitted and a complete bell tent glamping village can be installed at your request which enables wedding celebrations to take place all weekend. Haddon Copse Farm also offers its own organic Dorset hog and lamb roasts, welcome meals on Friday evening, hearty breakfasts, use of a shepherd's hut and an area called the 'Magic Circle' which is ideal for natural blessings.
Oakleaf Marquees is the exclusive supplier of marquees and tipis at Haddon Copse Farm. Packages start from just £6000 for 100 guests which includes both marquee and venue hire fees but we can look after all your requirements including catering, music and even entertainment for the night before the wedding.
Contact Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org to organise a visit and begin planning your big day or see the website for more information here Haddon Copse Farm.
The house can accommodate 18 people in nine double (king-size) rooms, so guests can make a weekend or even a week of the wedding festivities. There are acres of beautiful gardens to explore not to mention direct access to the beach. But what makes Studland Bay House so appealing for marquee weddings is that it has three different options for marquee placement: on the cricket pitch in front of the house which allows the marquee to be just a few hundred feet from the sea, on the house lawn, or on the lawn but connected to the house - perfect for early or late season weddings.
I'm sure I don't need to lecture you on the charms of Studland - let's just say four miles of golden sand and leave it at that. If that's not enough, Sandbanks is just ten minutes away (if you time the ferry right) with Poole and Bournemouth beyond with endless entertainment and dining options. There's also Corfe Castle and Wareham within easy reach. For those not fortunate enough to sleep in the house The Knoll House is just across the road.
Speaking of which, The Knoll House catering team is on hand to cater for any event at Studland Bay House whether in the house itself or a marquee on the cricket pitch. The most impressive menu I've seen was a selection of shellfish to start served from a cart on the lawn followed by lobster and chips in the marquee. Talk about doing it in style!
All our marquee styles and tipis work well at the house so the choice will depend on decorations and the look you're trying to achieve. We're fond of placing marquees end on to the view and fitting them with clear gables plus panoramic windows as this makes the most of the view (the end of the marquee effectively becomes one big window).
Recommended photographers are Jude Ives and One Thousand Words.
For all Studland Bay House and Knoll House catering enquiries please contact Michael on 07703 691579 or email email@example.com
How about making a weekend of it and hiring some bell tents or small tipis for your guests to stay in? Festival themes are all the rage with marquee weddings at the moment and it's not difficult to see why. Organising hotels for everyone is a tiresome business, particularly out in the sticks where accommodation is scarce. Even the celebrities are at it - Guy Ritchie had a glamping village built for his wedding last year!
But the main attraction is that you can keep the party going all weekend and enjoy meals together, fires in the evening and some serious quality time with your nearest and dearest. Weddings are generally over in a flash (particularly when you're the bride or groom) and I often leave feeling I should have partied harder or talked to great aunt Mary for longer or not disgraced myself on the dance floor without apologising the next day. It's nice for as many guests as possible to enjoy a few drinkies and not worry about driving, taxis, travelling, finding their hotel in the dark etc.
We've partnered with Acorn Marquees who are based in Bournemouth but supply groovy tents throughout Dorset and further afield. They offer stunning bell tents in various sizes and a wide range of furnishings which allow your guests to choose from authentic camping spec to seriously plush. Jon and Julie offer an outstanding service and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
So book your marquee with Oakleaf, assemble your glamping village with Acorn, order your festival flags and make your wedding weekend one to remember!
Over the last five or so years hog roasts have become extremely popular for evening fodder at marquee weddings. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good hog roast as my waist measurement will testify. The question is: have hog roasts been done too much and become a bit passé and, if so, what are the alternatives?
The first thing to say is that there are hog roasts and hog roasts, and I hope your event experiences the latter! Thankfully we can recommend Else Family Butchers of Stalbridge, Dorset Porkers of Dorchester and Oaktop Hog Roast of Tiverton. If you're a hog roaster and reading this thinking 'I've served him a hog roast before and he guzzled it down like a glutton' then I'm sorry, email your details and I'll add you to this list!
Here are the alternatives I've seen and enjoyed:
Lamb roast: a bit more expensive but delicious and less common than pork (I once saw a cow roast at a large wedding and the machine was enormous, I think there are only two in the country and this particular machine came from Wales!). Again, Else Family Butchers can do this for you (link above).
Pizza: this is becoming popular and I'm not talking about sending an usher out to Pizza Hut or Dominos, I'm talking about amazing stone-baked pizza made in a proper oven right outside your marquee! My main man from Pizzarova is highly recommended as he serves from an oven on the back of a Land Rover. There's also Dorset-based Jalopy Pizza which uses an old Peugeot van. But my personal favourite is The Wood Fired Piadizza - in my opinion the best pizza I've had; bar none.
Crepes: I love a good crêpe and there's a guy from Brittany based in Bristol who is god of la bonne crêpe, so much so that he started La Bonne Crêpe. Crêpes aren't just sweet they can be savoury too: ham and cheese, brie and chilli jam, now we're talking!
Bacon and sausage baps: is anything better than quality bacon or sausages in fluffy baps with all the sauces to go with them? I had these at my wedding - amazing! Your caterer could supply these.
Cheese selection: augmented with artisan breads and cured meats you have an evening buffet fit for royalty. Again, your caterer could supply this.
I'd really like to see a Mexican option with some tasty burritos or chimichangas but I'll have to wait as I haven't seen those on the wedding circuit yet!
It can be very hard choosing bands and DJs for your event and listening to sample tracks on websites is no real substitute for the live experience. I like to check out YouTube so you can see how they get the crowd going (although the sound quality isn't great) but it gives you a better indication of suitability. We get asked to recommend bands and DJs all the time so here is a quick run down of our favourites (all of which we've experienced live):
Jackson 3 - http://www.jackson3.co.uk/Jackson_3.html
Headland - https://myspace.com/headlandmusic (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Area 52 - http://area52theband.moonfruit.com
Hattie Jacques' Playlist - http://www.thehatties.com
Jess Upton and the Guilty Pleasures - http://www.jessupton.com
Funkty Dumpty - http://www.funktydumpty.com
Funkify - http://www.funkify.co.uk
Streetbeat Disco (Gary Carter) - http://www.streetbeatdisco.co.uk
Lee Santana - 01202 881063
Pegasus Discos - http://www.pegasusdisco.co.uk
All of these cover Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire and are happy to perform in marquees for weddings, parties and all other events. Please mention us if you get in touch with them. Thanks for reading
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!