Can you have a marquee wedding on a budget?

Just about every job is a compromise between what your client wants and what their budget is.

So is it possible to have a marquee wedding on a budget?

Yes absolutely but there’s things you need to make your customer aware of.  The main way for them to save money is to have an unlined marquee so your customers are likely to want to do a lot of decorating of the marquee before the day. You should also point out that decorations should be cleared before you come to take the marquee down – people are very happy decorating a marquee but not so keen un-decorating it!

Another alternative is to save space by having seating on the dance floor. Typically this would be the top table as everyone on it should be off socialising for the evening (ever seen an occupied top table late on at a wedding?)

A marquee can fit more people in standing than seated. A popular option is to limit the numbers of guests for the meal with more guests arriving for the evening. At the end of the meal all of the tables are cleared, the seats are moved to the edge of the marquee and this gives the added capacity needed for the evening.

No doubt there are many more money-saving ideas but these are the most popular I came across in the marquee hire industry.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Show customers exactly what they might be hiring

Experienced marquee erectors will be able to look at a garden and just see exactly how a marquee will fit and exactly what it would look like. Always keep in mind that your customers won’t be able to do this, giving them a few details and asking them to use their imagination is going to be a tough sell.

So what can you do?

Floorplans: supplying one or two suggested floorplans showing how everything is going to fit in to their marquee is going to be a big help. It will show that the numbers you’re talking about will fit in to their garden-often this comes as a surprise to someone who’s just marked the space out on their lawn. You can use our handy marquee planner for this – print it and cut it out or take a screenshot, crop it down and add it straight in to quotes etc.

Photographs: The best thing you can possibly do is have a photograph of exactly what your customer wants. This isn’t easy, especially when you’re starting out but if you have photographs in your portfolio of all the different jobs you’ve done then eventually you’ll have some clear favourites – expand on these ones in particular. You always want to have choice available but the best scenario for both you and your customer is for them to say ‘I want exactly that’. For us the most popular option was honeybeige carpet and ivory swags for weddings and blackout linings with black & white dance floors for 40th/18th birthday parties.

Look at a website like rightmove – when someone goes to view a house chances are they’ve seen pictures of it, they’ve seen a floorplan and they’re just going to see how it all comes together in a package. Make life easier for you and your customers by offering similar information.

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Many thanks to JF Marquees and Premier Party Tent (again) for helping us dismantle our Showmans Show marquees in record time (an hour & 30 minutes). The show itself seemed successful with most hirers having a positive outlook for 2012. Our new products on display seemed to go down very well including our new solid frame doors (only £400) and our simple gable pieces that give so much more flexibility to hirers. Thank you for everyone who came in to see us and especially those who mentioned they read this blog, I’ll try my best to keep helping as much as I can.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Non-damaging way of getting a fixing on a lining

There won’t be an entry next week as we’ll be down setting up our stand at The Showmans Show, yes I’ve mentioned it many times but this blog is aimed at marquee hire companies and it is simply the one show you must visit for the industry. Please stop by and say hello 🙂

I posted this last year but it has proved very popular and I keep referring people to it so here it is again:

Nearly every time you use a marquee lining it will be to go in your standard marquee stock and (if it’s one of ours!) will fit perfectly. Easy.

But sometimes you have to fit a lining somewhere unusual. It might be lining a customers porch, it might be lining an unusual walkway or just making good to a house. At some time in your marquee hiring life you will need to do this.

So how do you get attachments in a lining without damaging it? Follow these instructions:

Step 1: Find a decent sized pebble (about 4cm diameter ideally) and place it on the good face of the lining (ie the side you don’t need to get a fixing)

Step 2: Scrunch the material round the pebble at the back of the lining

Step3: Tie a cable tie tightly around the scrunched material and also include an extra cable tie (this gives you your fixing).

And there you have it, a fixing in the middle of a lining that looks okay from the front (you can’t see the pebble) and gives you a fixing at the back without damaging the lining.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Remind customers of their responsibilities

One of our favourite customers has recently had a problem that is interesting to highlight for others in the industry.

They erected a marquee for a client and left it well strapped down. The client then in all their wisdom decided to ‘borrow’ most of the tie downs to anchor down their own gazebos as strong winds were forecast. Lo and behold the strong winds caused damage to the main marquee exactly where the tie downs had been removed.

This is an incredibly rare occurrence, I can think of only one similar incident happening in all my time of marquee hiring so there’s no need to be too concerned but it would be sensible to take precautions.

Essentially you need to ensure the customer is aware of their responsibilities and obligations, for example:

  • ensuring no part of the marquee is dismantled (partially or otherwise), this includes tie downs but also wires or cross-braces on larger marquees
  • not to leave indoor furniture outside -chairs with seat pads and/or covers are often carried outside by guests but not returned at the end of the event leaving them open to rain overnight
  • marquees should be closed up overnight or in strong winds
  • no electrical equipment should be tampered with including any temporary earth rods (used with generators etc)

Ideally have a form that is signed just to cover yourself if anything did happen.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

new products at Showmans Show 2011

Following on from the previous post on The Showmans Show here are some more details:

We are on Avenue E, stand number 258. Come out of the exhibition hall, turn right then left and we’re a short way down on the right hand side.

All of the suppliers you would expect to find will be there including heater suppliers, furniture suppliers, insurance companies etc. One you may not have considered is Welwyn Tool Company (stand 89 in the hall). They offer a variety of products for welding PVC but having a small heat gun for making repairs on site proved invaluable to us as a hire company.

We’ll be showing a couple of new additions to our stock including gable pieces for creating porch areas and solid frame doors. No photos yet as we’ve been testing them all summer but I’ll put some up here after the show.

Thanks for reading, look forward to seeing you at the show 🙂

Spencer

Discount for Winter marquee hire?

As we’ve come towards the end of the season bookings and enquiries for the winter will start to come in. A big question you have to ask yourself is will you offer discounts for winter hire?

Hiring out marquees during the winter is a bit harder, the weather is generally against you and will wash off that tan from ALL that sun we had this summer (!), the marquees require more maintenance and cleaning per hire and the marquees are often that bit more awkward – connecting a marquee to a house is a lot more work that simply putting it up in a garden for example.

On the flip side of this most winter work is seen as something of a bonus, other than Christmas/New Year you’re unlikely to sell out. So is it worth offering a discount?

In my opinion yes. We started out offering no discounts but when we changed our approach our order book doubled from the previous year. I’m not advocating getting work for the sake of it, you’ve still got to earn money on a job so don’t go chasing too hard. A 10% discount seems about right although as I’ve mentioned before I think it’s much better to offer extra items to the value of 10% rather than a discount if you can.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

White ratchet straps for marquees

Isn’t it annoying when you buy something only to see a newer improved version available soon after?

Well we’re just introducing white ratchet straps to go in our tie down kits, the standard for the whole industry is to use orange (which we still have available) but we are repeatedly asked for white to blend in with the marquee so we have now produced them.

Not only that but if you’ve purchased orange ratchet straps from us in the last month then we’re happy to exchange them (free of charge) for white ones even if the orange ones are used. Just send them back to our factory (obviously including a copy of the invoice).

We do try to look after our customers even after they’ve purchased a DIY Marquee 🙂

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How much space is needed for a place setting?

Unusual seating plans can call for some head-scratching calculations. 95% of the time people will want standard seating arrangements that you’ll have done many times before but just occasionally you get a someone who wants something a bit different. This generally involves unusual shapes or combinations of tables – you may hire them or make them yourself (bolting a custom made top to an existing table is the most common option). Here are some rules to help you plan:

Ideally you want a 2ft (60cm) wide space per person around the table. It can be a bit less if it’s a curved table (as people end up with more space further away from the table)

You also need to allow 2ft (60cm) for chairs around the table but that doesn’t allow space to walk between tables.

As an example take a 20ft/6m wide marquee that you would typically fit two round tables across in any layout. So 5ft round tables would then have an extra 2ft for the chairs, positioning them against the walls leaves a 2ft path down the middle.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Different types of top table

As a marquee hire company you need to offer your customers choice. One particular decision is what type of top table to use. Not only do you need to offer different options but you also need to be able to discuss the pros and cons of each:

Traditional long table:

Usually made up of 3 6ft trestles with seating on one side and positioned on one side of the marquee.

  • Gives a traditional/formal feel to the seating layout
  • Easy for speeches
  • Easy for you to set up
  • Good for photographs with a marquee wall behind
  • Can be difficult to talk to best man/bridesmaid on the ends
  • Difficult to change the seating arrangements from gridge, groom, parents, best man and bridesmaid(s)
  • People on the table are facing guests backs if the remaining seating is round tables
  • Space required in marquee: 3x6m

Round table:

Usually a 5ft, 5ft6in or 6ft round table in the middle of all the other round tables

  • Gives a very informal feel to the layout
  • Very social with other guests in all directions
  • Easy to change seating arrangements if circumstances require it (for eg no need to have parents/in-laws on the same table)
  • Not ideal for photographs
  • Not ideal for speeches (often having to walk to one side to make them)
  • Space required in marquee: 3x3m

Oval Table

Usually constructed of several trestle tables with a ‘D’ shape table at each end and positioned at one side of the marquee. Seating is usually in a horse-shoe on 3 sides leaving the front clear

  • more sociable option than a traditional top table (people at the ends are now facing towards the bride & groom)
  • can be formal or informal
  • leaving the front clear makes for good photographs
  • Surface can be uneven with so many tables next to each other on uneven ground
  • Space required in marquee: 3x6m

Remember a popular option is to have the top table on the dance floor. This means that all guests are positioned around the top table and when it is lifted away after the meal everyone is then automatically positioned around the dance floor. It’s best to use the top table for this as the idea is that everyone on it will spend the rest of the evening socialising.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Space required in a marquee

When you plan a marquee event you need to know how much space to allow for furniture and other features. As a rough guide use 3x3m boxes:

  • For a 5ft round table seating 8-10 or a 5ft6in round table seating 9-11 guests allow one 3x3m square box
  • For a set of buffet tables (usually three 6ft trestles) allow 3x6m (ie two 3x3m boxes)
  • For a top table (tradition long table or an oval) allow 3x6m
  • DJ’s: 3x3m
  • Band: At least 3x6m depending on how many people are involved
  • Bar: 3x3m (often with another 3x3m for a sofa or spare seats)

Dance floors can vary in size depending on the type of event and number of guests so they’re a bit tricky.

Also consider leaving some space clear when people first walk in and in front of any catering entrance if you have the space to do so.

Of course you can just use our marquee planner or email us and one of us will put something together for you.

Thanks for reading

Spencer