Top 10 Tips On Planning A Marquee Wedding

2 weekends past I had the privilege of working with the Queen of marquee weddings, the lovely Bernadette Chapman (owner of the UKAWP and Dream Occasions) and I had the opportunity to observe how Bernadette, planned and set up a marquee wedding, set in the private family garden (and it was a stunning garden).

I found that assisting Bernadette meant that I could learn some key tips from a planner who has many years worth of experience planning marquees. This is the best part of working weddings alongside other planners. You can learn from each other.

So what are my top tips learnt from the queen of marquees and what can I add to that?

1. Always give yourself enough time to set up. If your marquee company can setup a few days before (even the day before) this is ideal. The reasoning behind this is that it gives you enough time to make any adjustments to any elements that might need to be changed and avoids any rush on the morning of the wedding. It provides peace of mind and a more relaxed environment. You may think that this is too much faf, but honestly it's the best practice. If you are an engaged couple planning your marquee wedding for yourself and don't have a wedding planner helping you, the aim here to help you be confident of things being correct when you come to your actual wedding day. To help you feel more relaxed that the marquee is set up exactly as you want it to be.

2. Before you set up your marquee. Walk around your space and identify any potential hazards for your guests. Keep in mind that you might have drunk guests and potentially small children. I am talking about any ponds that are uncovered, any trees with damaged branches, stairs that people might fall down etc. Keep in mind that at some point it will be dark and hard for guests to see things. Easy for children to go wondering and to try play within a pond. When you do your walk around, think about how you can make sure guests are wither aware of it or how you can clear away any potential dangers.

3. Make sure that you inform your suppliers of all potential issues and instruct them carefully. If you want them to park in a specific area, make sure you outline this in your emails to them and if you need to, send photos of what the house looks like and where they need to park. Unless you tell them where to park, you might find suppliers parked where you don't want them to be or you might find damage done to your property because they parked where they shouldn't. If you have dogs that are running about and can easily run out into the road, let all your suppliers know and inform them to keep a look out and to close gates behind them. Sounds like something obvious but if people don't have dogs they don't think about dogs walking out into the road.

4. This may sound like an odd point but it is a very relevant point and that is that flies (and other buzzy things) love a marquee tent, particularly if there is a body of water near by, and it is particularly humid. They congregate at the top of the marquee and they will buzz about and head straight for any sweet things (so keep that cake away or covered if need be). If you want you cake out and about for guests to see when they walk into the marquee then you had better cover it partially to protect it from flies. They will flock to it and if it has any icing, they will stick to that icing. My advice would be to actually keep it away from the tent and in the fridge until it's time for the cake to be cut.

5. A staff tent is a must. You may ask whether this is necessary but honestly it is. If you avoid this then staff end up leaving their bags in the kitchen tent which means that they are then in the way of the catering company (both the bags and any staff). Cluttering up the catering tent is not an ideal situation. You don't have to provide much more than the tent but nice touches would be to include a kettle, tea, coffee, milk and some mugs for them to use if they need to. Especially if it's a little cold. Your staff/ suppliers are people who bring in things they need to make sure they can function properly to make sure they can do their job properly. Please keep in mind that you do also need to provide those staff meals. Please don't neglect feeding your staff.

6.If you are going to set your tables the day before don't put any stationery out. A humid marquee (which it might very well be over night or during the morning) will mean that the stationery will curl and not look so nice. This is something that can be done the morning of and if you have a wedding coordinator they will do it that morning.

7. The night before or a few days before (whenever you receive your menus/place settings) put them in order of where they are seated, i.e put them within their specific table number/name but also the order in which they are sitting at that table. This makes it easier when you walk around each table placing the place settings out. It takes less time and avoids frustration.

8. Ask your caterer to check the sight the day before and have them check for anything they might need. By this I mean that if they need fresh water for regularly washing hands, do they need any tap etc. This way you avoid hosepipes being drawn across the lawn where guests will be walking and creating a potential trip hazard. If they need to ask about anything, they need to ask you then to make sure there are no last min actions that can cause problems.

9. Have a determined place for guests to leave their cards and gifts (if they bring any with them to the wedding). This avoids confusion.

10. Finally but not least, if any of your guests have babies with them that will need nappies to be changed, make sure you have a specific spot for them to do so and to avoid them changing nappies on kitchen islands. Sounds far fetched but has happened. Something that can be forgotten but something that is necessary to think about. This is only relevant if this is done at your private home where they can walk into your home.

Looking at planning your own marquee event?

Click the link below and let's discuss how I can help you.

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