Having some outside lighting at your wedding or party can add some serious bang for your buck and really help set the scene. It could be just as simple as a pair of floodlights uplighting a couple of trees or 40m of warm white fair style festoon lights - both options are less than £100.
During the day the view from your marquee or tipi will speak for itself but at night time it's quite nice to see something out of the window, not just a deep black void. LED candles from Lights4fun are a good choice because they're easy to switch on and you don't need to occupy an usher with an hour trying to get real candles going with a lighter! If you stockpile jam jars the twinkling candle effect is multiplied.
We stock a variety of small, medium and large floodlights from LED warm white and colour changing through to large output HQI floodlights. We also stock a couple of miles of warm white festoon lights (which you can see in the left and middle photos above). Festoons look brilliant strung over the top of tipis or traditional marquees and you can run them from the roof/apex down to 10ft high poles and create an area in front of the marquee for evening chilling. Get a fire pit on the go too with a few wooden benches (or bales) to create a cosy outside area.
We also stock 4ft and 10ft high festoon light poles as you can see in the middle photo above. They can be placed anywhere but look great flanking a strip of matting leading to your marquee or tipi entrance.
It's not just the decorative quality of outside lighting you need to consider but the functional quality too. Most people have lights on their mobile phones now but if guests need to find their way across fields to collect their car at the end of the night a little illumination is very welcome. I really don't want to tell the story (or publish the photo) of one poor wedding guest who found himself up to the shoulders in a slurry ditch...
For £2-300 you could get a really nice outside lighting set up. Festoons are £40 per 20m length and floodlights are £15-30 depending on size. Fire pits are £85. We often use fairy light strands outside if you want more subtle warm and pretty lighting. Once we put a disco ball and smoke machine in a copse for a slightly psychedelic outside lighting feature (complete with swing suspended from a branch)!
You're very welcome to do your own outside lighting because it's not expensive or rocket science. The point is that for a little expense we you can create a difference to your event which is worth far more.
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!
The Events Field is suitable for functions with up to 200 guests and the views of the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. Any of our structures are suitable for use. The summer house can be incorporated inside the marquee as you can see in the picture above (a large marquee is required to do this) or we can position a smaller marquee alongside it. Alternatively, it can be set apart from the marquee and a stretch tent or oriental canopy used to cover guests.
Holme for Gardens offers excellent parking facilities and suitable power outlets for an average wedding or party. Use of the venue comes with the services of professional and acclaimed wedding planners Blue Bay Events who have a list of outstanding wedding suppliers experienced in working at the venue. They also organise regular open days so you can see its charm for yourself.
We've worked with the following suppliers at Holme for Gardens: event caterers Claret Catering, photographer One Thousand Words (who took the photos you can see here), bar company A&D Mobile Bars, disco Pegasus Disco and venue dressers Perfectly Pretty Weddings.
For more information and to enquire about availability please email Blue Bay Events email@example.com
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!
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.
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.
This is an update to a previous post which featured bands and DJs we've heard and can recommend for your wedding or party (you can view it here). But time moves on and over the past year we've met a few more we'd like to highly recommend to you.
There's Weymouth, Dorset based band The Leggomen. We heard them at a wedding at Three Legged Cross in September and they really rocked the party. They're a vibrant foursome that play a great mixture of modern pop and rock alongside a variety of classic tunes plus original material. They cover the likes of the Stone Roses, Passenger, Mumford & Sons, Avicci, Oasis and many more. I'd say they are suited to a younger audience (or the young at heart of course) but anyone who appreciates good music played well will appreciate them. Check out their website for videos and details of their latest gigs and festival appearances.
Another band we've seen on the circuit lately is 29 Fingers whose slogun 'music maketh the party and the band maketh the music' we entirely agree with (we also agree with Vince Vaughn's line in Wedding Crashers 'it's like pizza baby, it's good no matter what, there's music in the air'). 29 Fingers love a good party and they like to show you that besides the great music there's lights, colour, smiles, costumes, hats, wigs, maraccas, tambourines and an abundant sense of fun and occasion. You can see their website here and judge their YouTube videos and sound clips for yourself. With their wide ranging playlist I think they're suitable for parties and weddings attended by all ages.
Bear in mind that most bands will bring a playlist on iPad (or similar) so the party can keep rocking when they aren't playing, but if you'd prefer a DJ then consider the award-winning Party Dexx. We've seen them several times and their DJs always get guests dancing all night long. They are massively experienced and have appeared at over 600 weddings! They are also the recommended DJ supplier at several prestigious wedding venues throughout Dorset and Hampshire. Get in touch with them online here.
Another season is approaching so we'll keep our eyes (and ears) out for more bands and DJs to recommend over the next few months.
Marquee Hire Dorset
The house sleeps 15 and features a dining room with Georgian plasterwork and over a hundred 18th century plates on the walls. One of the highlights is a chair used by Napoleon on the island of St Helena. The house's many windows let in the romance of the Purbeck Hills and the open sea with its fresh and invigorating breeze and nostalgic smell.
Kimmeridge Bay is famous for swimming, surfing and fossil hunting. It is overlooked by Clavell Tower, inspiration for P. D. James’s murder story The Black Tower. The bay was once a haunt of smugglers and scene of their many battles with coast guards. The next bay along is called Brandy Bay as so much brandy was smuggled there!
Marquees at Smedmore are placed directly in front of the house on a beautiful lawn. Our traditional pole marquees are particularly well suited to the elegant Georgian building and lush landscape surrounding it. As you can see in the pictures above, there is a secluded spot between some trees where ceremonies can take place with a sea view behind. Our white folding chairs are ideal and we can install an aisle with white carpet or coconut matting. Cover can be provided with an oriental canopy or two.
Suppliers we've worked at Smedmore with successfully in the past include caterers Claret Catering and The Foodie Queen; photographers Courtenay Photographic and Tom Redman and venue stylist Inspire Hire. The house has a very comprehensive list of wedding suppliers on their website too including taxis and local accommodation.
For enquiries about weddings, events and holiday accommodation contact Laura Dugdale on 020 7792 4565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm pleased to announce an association between Oakleaf Marquees and the award-winning event management and wedding planning company Blue Bay Events, two of Dorset's leading wedding suppliers. Both companies are reputable, dynamic, forward-thinking and share a passion for customer service and outstanding events so I'm convinced this partnership will become a force to be reckoned with over the coming years.
Based in the Isle of Purbeck, Blue Bay Events offer not only decorating and 'on the day' options but a highly acclaimed 'fully planned' service from start to finish too. They have an impressive list of prestigious venues such as Holme for Gardens near Wareham, Durlston Country Park in Swanage, Lulworth Castle and The Grand Hotel in Swanage to name just a few and we will be launching various exciting initiatives together in the near future.
We are proud to join Blue Bay Events' list of preferred suppliers and hope you will give them the opportunity to impress you with their service.
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!