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.
Why do we stock so many different types of bar and even build bespoke bars tailored to customers individual tastes? Well, the bar is probably going to be one of the main focal points in your marquee and certainly an area your guests will spend time frequently throughout the day so it is important to get it right.
When it comes to a marquee event it is essential to remember that you have a blank canvas and that the space you have is not a real building - ‘here today, gone tomorrow’. Just like the theatre, the way you decorate the space needs to be exaggerated to create full impact, much like costume jewellery. Creating focal points that the eye will be drawn to is important to draw the eye away from the fact you are in a temporary structure.
The key to a great looking marquee for any event is getting the following things right: table centres, dance floor and bar. When your guests first walk in the ‘wow’ will come from the overall impact which will be highlighted by your table centre pieces (a marquee is nothing until the tables are laid). The dance floor; position it right, get the lighting right and have great music (this is out of our jurisdiction) and your guests will dance the night away.
The bar needs to be more than just couple of trestle tables. An aesthetic facade is essential, the actual bar could be quite big and may be the first port of call when guests enter and an attractive back bar provides another focal point. The other thing to think about is from a service point of view; staff need to be able to store glass boxes, re-stock, get rid of rubbish, replenish ice etc, ideally without causing any inconvenience or compromising aesthetics. The Oakleaf team are well rehearsed in both the design and running of a marquee build as well as providing bar services.
Keep an eye out for our expanding range of bar furniture and accessories. If you want something completely unique it's always worth asking because we may be able to create something bespoke. Remember, anything is possible!
Thanks to Ed Hunter our General Manager for this helpful advice.
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!).
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.
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.
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!