Planning your marquee wedding can be a challenge. You need to scout for a location and put a considerable amount of work in deciding on the set up. That said, if you work with an amazing company and understand what you're in for, you can certainly have a spectacular and stress free wedding!! To help you in this process, we thought it best to chat with the experts from South Coast Party Hire on what couples should be mindful of when planning a marquee wedding.
It can be very confronting when you first budget for your marquee. There are so many options - from the very entry level set ups to the spectacular high end marquees that have all the frills and 'bills'. As a starting point you should be setting aside at least $5000 for a basic set. If you want to start adding in your flooring, silk lining, chairs, lights it can easily creep up to $9000. If you want to include tables, chairs, fancy roofing or levels this will continue to push up the budget. You may also want to cover yourself with insurance in case anything gets damaged.
WHAT DOES THE SITE REQUIRE
The first step is to pick your open plot/venue and make sure that the space is suitable to hold a marquee (see discussion on this in more detail below).
Permits are not required unless the wedding is on public property. If so, you'll need to go to the associated council and make sure that you have all the permits you need to host your wedding on their site.
"We always do a site visit prior to the setup so if there is any issues with the site or access we can deal with these well in advance and set the expectations of the client in line with what we are able to achieve at the site", said South Coast Party Hire.
The site should ideally be level. It is possible for the floor to be packed up but only to certain levels for safety reasons. It is always best to pick a firm level area to ensure the desired (and stress free/cheaper) outcome.
PICK A HIRE COMPANY
Research your marquee hire companies. It is always good to do your research so you are well aware of the prices and products each company has to offer. You'll need to meet with each of them and speck out all the details and your requirements. Look at the quality of their work as sometimes the cheapest quote isn't necessarily the best.
select your EQUIPMENT
The equipment really varies from company to company. South Coast Party Hire have advised us that they provide everything from the floor to ceiling and in between the marquee and floor as well as ceiling lining, tables, chairs, lighting, catering equipment, event decor and linen. It is then up to the couples to arrange their own decorative items, flowers, and entertainment.
"Table decorations are probably the thing we get asked most about but generally so many people use floral arrangements for centrepieces they are better off getting this from their florist in one package", said South Coast Party Hire.
It is also up to the couple to arrange their own catering company to come on the day and use the equipment set up by the hire company. It is important that your caterers speak with your hire company so they are aware of what cooking equipment is or is not provided.
COORDINate & style
Companies, such as South Coast Party Hire, will provide you with scale floor plan layouts of the marquee to illustrate its size and how the hired items will fit inside. This way you are able to work out if you have enough room to fit in any other hired furniture, props or staging. Some people like to have their space tighter, others prefer a more free flowing area so people can mingle or walk around easily. If you have a large space outside the marquee (such as a garden or outside dance floor) you may prefer to have it a little more cosy inside.
"Some people are tight on budget so only want space for the tables, whilst others want lots of extra room for dancing and mingling should the weather not be great".
The experts advise that its best to get flooring to avoid getting stuck with soggy, wet or muddy ground. It also helps with all those wearing high heels or long dresses move around. Outside dance floors are also very popular along with clear roof marquees.
If you are electing to hire items or styling from more than one company, it is important that you are sure the items will fit and there are no issues with dimensions or hanging/installing equipment. You'll need to get all the dimension details, styles and coordinate with across all the companies.
You'll need to be realistic about what challenges you might face when selecting to have a marquee wedding. It can be a bigger undertaking than a venue wedding, however the end result can be simply spectacular. Keep in mind:
- The outdoor elements (wind, rain, hail, snow, animals, bugs...)
- Keeping guests warm
- Access to toilets
- Access for set up
- Access to power and water for your caterers/bar
- Access to back up generators (believe me we've been at events where they didn't have any and the power died... it was a rush to light as many tea candles as possible!)
- Coordinating suppliers together
- Making sure you haven't missed anything
- Damaged items
"We recently had a huge set up 10m x 30m marquee for 180 person wedding in the middle of a paddock. With no sealed road there was always a risk if it rained prior to or during the set up and just our luck it was the biggest down pour in years! We could not get our trucks close enough to the site without getting bogged so we had to walk everything for the set up. It was a long long and wet job but we got there in the end and the weather on the day of the wedding was amazing".
One real unknown for many couples is what they might be up for if something gets damaged. Some marquee companies will hold the couple and their guests responsible for any damage caused so it is wise to check on what you might be liable for. Most event companies will have insurance of their own for adverse weather conditions or damage to the marquee outside of their control and the control of the guests, but any malicious damage or accidental damage is generally to be covered by the couple. Some companies will offer a 'cost per item' fee, others will offer you a flat insurance fee and others will ask you to take out your own. It pays to check this out with your chosen company before you hire anything (and factor it into your budget as mentioned previously).
Bump In Bump Out
It takes time for pack up and set down. Bump in / bump out can take anywhere from 2-8 hours depending on the complexity and size.
You'll need to create a run sheet and give detailed direction on when items are being set up, delivered and removed (and you're involvement in between). Some companies, such as South Coast Party Hire, do not set up and pack away tables, chairs, linen and tableware. They do however set up the marquee a few days prior to the wedding and pack down a few days after to allow the family of a couple to do this themselves. If you would like it outsourced (or done for you!) there will be a fee associated. Just remember that if you elect to do it yourself, you'll need some helpers on the days leading up to and after the wedding. You will need to have the tables set up prior to any decorations or other equipment arriving. Please don't assume you can do it all on your own!
Back-up plan (last minute marquee)
If you are using an amazing hire company it can be hard to get last minute marquees during busy seasons as they are booked out. We recommend just arranging a marquee if you are planning a wedding which could be exposed to the elements. It is a security blanket and peace of mind. It could be a matter of just getting a simple marquee with basic flooring on standby.
You will need to make the decision at least a week prior to the event if you are going to put it up or not. Any chance of wet weather and we'd say install it.
"We are always happy to look at options to hold a marquee for clients should we not need it for someone else and then provide them with first right of refusal should we have another couple interested in booking it. This is a very flexible options which most hire companies do not offer".
We Can Help
You'll need to work really closely with your hire company throughout the process. They will need to have loads of details on what you are doing for your wedding and coordination with multiple suppliers to make their set-up easier. You'll need to create run sheets and make sure there is nothing missing or no question left unanswered. It might be worth hiring a wedding consultant like us, who can help you throughout this process.
About South Coast Party Hire
South Coast Party Hire is a family owned business located in Shellharbour on the NSW south coast. They service areas such as Kangaroo Valley, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Helensburg and the Illawarra. The company pride themselves on having not only different but unique products, such as vintage timber tables and white bentwood chairs. They also take really good care of their products so each client has a nice and fresh look.
Their tip to couples: "Have fun! Try not to get too caught up in making massive decisions too far out from the wedding on style as your tastes will change over the course of the time you will plan".
From our perspective, they are simply delightful to work with and really clear about what they do and do not provide. Any advice given to K&C has been honest and in the interest of the couple.
If you've you been to a wedding set up by South Coast Party Hire? Are you currently planning your wedding with them? Or are you interested in working with them for your wedding? We'd love your feedback!