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 email@example.com
If you're looking for a classic romantic English wedding we can think of no better venue in Dorset. The croquet lawn is perfectly flat for marquees and we've provided all styles of structure there in the past: traditional pole marquees for country style, clearspan frame marquees for elegant chic and tipis for a warm and cosy ambience.
Photo opportunities are vast with views everywhere you look plus topiary, archways tangled with flowers, water features, mature trees and secret grottoes.
Civil marriages can take place either in the Garden Pavilion overlooking the croquet lawn (for which we can supply canopies and chairs) or in the nearby Sawmill. The medieval All Saints Church is within the grounds and suited to intimate blessings for up to 90. Marquees on the croquet lawn can accommodate up to 400 seated guest and there is ample parking available.
Mapperton is located 15 minutes from Crewkerne and 20 minutes from Dorchester Stations, with direct links to London. There is tasteful accommodation nearby too with the Acorn Inn and Summer Lodge in Evershot and The Bridge House Hotel at Prout Bridge.
Recommended caterers are Jo Killin of Oxbridge Farm and Victoria Blashford-Snell. The recommended florist is The Real Cut Flower Garden and photographers Allister Freeman and Helen Lisk.
For more information on weddings at Mapperton click here or to get in touch call the Wedding Office on 01308 800114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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
There seem to be more and more wedding awards popping up both regionally and nationally of late. In fact the organisers that promote them seem to have established a new industry for themselves (as I’ve been writing this I’ve just seen a new one appear that covers Bristol and Somerset).
Never say never but it’s highly unlikely that Oakleaf will be entering for an award any time soon. The reason? I feel they are more aimed at those seeking PR and networking opportunities plus the kudos of introducing their business as ‘the award-winning….’. But the main reason is that they’re not representative of the whole marquee industry.
If a national and impartial body decided to launch a ‘National Wedding Marquee Awards’ and entered every marquee firm in the country automatically, that would be more credible to my mind. This is the way it’s done in other industries. The trouble is there’s no money in doing this (bear in mind that to enter the awards process in the first place a supplier has to pay a fee and then, if selected for the final stage, buy tickets for the awards dinner too). Nobody does it for the love.
I’ve seen competitors plaster the ‘finalist’ and ‘winner’ logos everywhere and ram them down throats via social media at every opportunity. I’ve even seen one refer to themselves as being the ‘best in the UK’ which is neither fair nor true. They won an award for being the best supplier among the other suppliers that chose to enter based on certain criteria. Therefore, in my opinion the accolades are misleading. At the very least the awarding bodies should publish a list of entrants so the scale and importance of the awards can be assessed. As far as I’ve seen, they do not.
I’d be interested to know what customers think about this. Should we enter awards? If so, would it be purely so we can be seen as entering? Would the logo of an award on our homepage impress you? Based on some of the customers I’ve spoken to recently perhaps not. One such customer made a booking with us and when she informed a competitor they had not been chosen to supply her wedding marquee their retort was ‘but we’ve won awards’!
Why am I writing this post you may ask. Sour grapes? Jealousy? Inferiority complex? No, I guess I’m just irritated that these awards appear to be increasing in number and customers can easily get the wrong idea. Until someone convinces me that we must enter and that it's totally fair and fully representative of the industry and all its facets (service, range, value for money, safety record, financial performance etc) I’ll ensure we keep winning the award that matters most – customer satisfaction and recommendations.
Thanks for reading!
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!
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!
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.
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