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Marquees: the ins and outs,
dos and don'ts
by Gordon Eccles

First of all, DO choose a Marquee

Why? Well first of all, nothing is more romantic than a fairytale wedding, in a gorgeous setting, with beautiful tents – the silk linings and crisp white canvas provide a blank canvas on which to paint your dream wedding day.

And of course nothing gives you more choice, more autonomy, privacy and flexibility to change every detail - shape, style, layout, colour, furnishings and décor. Additionally:

You don't have to share the tent with another bride and bridal party (often the case at big hotels)
No one gets to call time on the bar but you
You can have as many or as few people as you want and don't have to put up with limiting numbers because of things like health and safety and fire regulations
You have the marquee for the whole weekend at no extra cost - time to prepare and decorate, time to celebrate, time to relax afterwards and enjoy it
The colour, decor, furniture, catering style are all your choice, not imposed on you by a venue with a specific style - so if you want a Moroccan feast, a Louis quatorze salon, a Bedouin tent, a simple summer barbeque, or a dreamy organza stage set, you can have it!
And the cost of the food and drink are under your control, not a catering manager's

Once you have decided that a marquee is right for you, here are a few tips:-

DO choose an expert to guide you through the day

Most people only get lucky enough to use a marquee once or twice, so you need an expert who can talk you through the choices open to you. Every event is unique and made up of lots of separate individual options, so find someone who will come and see you, visit the location and evaluate the site, take time to hear about your plans, and find the best way of making those ideas come to life.

DON'T limit your choice of date

Increasingly brides are choosing weddings earlier and later in the year to ensure that they can have stunning lighting, diffused colour, fairylights and floodlit trees, flares, bonfires and fireworks, light projections, lasers and so on which can only be done when its dark or dusky outside. You no longer have to limit yourselves to the main summer months but can choose a date which is special to you at any time of the year - whether the date you met or got engaged, a birthday or another memorable date. Because it is possible to heat any size marquee at any time of year, think about what is important to you, not about the weather - after all, in Yorkshire it can rain any day of the year! Imagine a magnificent New Year's eve wedding with bonfires, flares, fireworks and bagpipes, made extra dramatic, romantic and intimate by gales outside, starlight and moonlight, while the guests dine elegantly in the warm. The possibilities are endless.


DO use your marquee to the max

And as you will have the marquee for at least 3 days, why not meet up again the next day for lunch, or offer it to a charity to hold a fundraiser, or hold a family party the night before you get married? Once you have gone to all that trouble it seems a shame not to use it to extend the celebrations, and there is no additional cost for doing so.

DO use all five senses to create a distinctive style

Don’t forget how important the senses are when you are creating atmosphere – the key to creating great theatre and a memorable day. You can change the atmosphere with essential oils, lighting effects, unusual catering options etc. So you need to think about all this before talking to your marquee expert. They can make your dream become reality, but until you tell them, they won't know what is important to you and how you want to feel on your big day.

DO think about the running of the day - how you want it to flow

Think about the different elements of the day and what you and your guests will need – for example, if you have lots of elderly/young guests you may want to think about how long the day will be and how to make them comfortable. So it might be a good idea to think about having an additional smaller marquee as a chill out zone. It will be quieter and calmer and you can fill it with comfy chairs so people can relax – especially if its going to be a late night. If the flowers are a centrepiece for the wedding, say so, so that the lighting can be altered to create emphasis. If the day will be in several different stages and you want to create suspense, think about adding sections to the marquee and curtaining them off to be revealed later - imagine starlight linings and the mirror ball over the black and white dance floors and a stage with a 12 piece swing band to add 50's Hollywood glamour to the evening, revealed when the meal is over and the dancing is about to start.

A Marquee expert can help you think through these kinds of things – they have, after all, helped hundreds of brides make these big decisions. Once you know what you want they can show you how to make it happen.

DON'T make your decision just based on price

If you do, you may get cheap in every sense of the word. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that all marquees are the same. They aren't and nor are the companies who provide them. Unless you get a quote based on identical components its very hard to compare, so try getting one initial quote and then using it to create a specification which you send to other companies to allow you to compare 'apples with apples'. Book early because then you will get their support and service all the way through

But DO negotiate

The price you are initially quoted is an estimate based on a conversation. If you like a particular company more, tell them your budget and if the quote is more, see if they can change something so that you can afford it. If you are booking early or late in the year, the marquee companies will not be quite as busy so may be prepared to offer you a discount. Always ask - most of the time they will want to help you have the wedding you've dreamed about - that's why they are in this business - so if they can help you, they probably will.And finally, DO think about the practical issues!

DO meet the marquee company face to face

Choose a company who you like as people and who you trust as professionals. The people who create the setting for your great day impact on everyone else – the nerves of the mother of the bride, the temperature and stability for the florist, the power and facilities for the band and the caterers – every event is different and things can and DO go wrong. So when you are choosing a marquee company, choose someone who is positive, practical, able to find solutions for you and is someone you are going to enjoy having around when the pressure is on – and it will be for the four days before your wedding! Find someone you like, you trust and you can feel confident in.

DO think practically

You know what they say, its always 'location, location, location': think carefully about where you want to have the marquee and how that will relate to other elements of the day. The venue itself will dictate some of the choices available. Answer to practical questions are vital, for example: is the ground level? is it prone to standing water? does it have services (gas, water, electricity etc) running underground or overground? and is there easy, close by access for lorries to park and unload? Where can the cars park and how will your guests get back to their cars in the dark or if its raining? All of these little details make a huge difference to the smooth running of the process and the ultimate finish that you get for the marquee. That's why its essential to get your marquee provider to come and see you, measure the site and talk through the options. If you don't plan on having the marquee at home and are not sure which venue to pick, ask your marquee expert. They will probably have great contacts at stunning venues all across Yorkshire and will be able to make recommendations.

And finally, DON'T panic!!!

it may seem as if there is a lot to do but as soon as you have met an expert you feel confident with, they will take most of the pressure off you and allow you to think about other things. Even up until a few weeks before they may be able to accommodate some changes to the plans, so you don't need to cast all your ideas in stone immediately. They are there to help, take away your worries and make it a fantastic day - build a really good relationship with them, tell them what you want and then leave them to it.

( For more information on the expert author of this article visit: )

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