I'm Spencer King, an ex-marquee erector. This blog is designed to help those running a hire business or thinking of starting. I don't claim to know everything, I'm just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I made! Check out our event planning section for advice on planning your own marquee event. Please contact us if we can help or offer advice in any way.
September is usually the last busy marquee month of the season. If you’re still very busy through October and the Christmas market then you’re doing very well. There is a change to the way people use marquees during the winter though:
Often customers are after gaining a room from the house for a party rather than hosting the whole function outside.
Butt the marquee hard up against the house or use a walkway with sides
Allow more time to put the marquee up. It could be cold, wet and/or windy and the daylight hours are shorter
Allow more maintenance time between jobs, marquees need cleaning and drying unless they’re going straight back out
It’s tempting to raise the hire charge of the marquee due to the greater running costs but unfortunately the opposite is usually true, because winter is drastically quieter than summer for parties you often have to offer discounts or incentives to be competitive and get the work.
Buy some good waterproofs. We’re quite fortunate in that once the marquee is up we’re generally working in the dry doing all of the interior work but if you’re having to do that in wet clothes life is not fun. Get the marquee up quickly, get all the kit inside then it becomes a normal day whatever the weather outside (assuming you’ve got good quality marquees of course!)
We recommend testing any gutter before you leave site anyway but especially do so during the winter
If snow is forecast leave heating on very low to prevent it building up on the roof. UK marquees are not designed for snow loading.
edit: As the excellent County Marquees pointed out after posting wooden floors are a very popular option during the winter. Not only do they give a good surface but you are raising the height of the floor – a popular (but expensive) solution on soft ground prone to waterlogging or hard surfaces where water can come back under the sides.
In the main erecting winter marquees is a far more relaxed business than summer ones, the company is generally not as busy so you can take your time to get it right and ensure you’ve tried absolutely everything on the nearest sandwich shops menu.
This is how we and most of the marquee hire industry lay marquee flooring:
Any marquee flooring should have a non-breathable layer down underneath the main surface. This prevents the grass from giving off water vapour that will come back down as condensation and stops the surface getting muddy. Grass is tough stuff and covering it over for a week or so shouldn’t be a problem.
Use 4″ or 6″ nails to hold down the carpet, this pulls the surface tightly and prevents any trip hazards. On hard surfaces use double sided carpet tape.
We’ve got some stock that was intended for the German market but the intended recipient has unfortunately gone bankrupt. So we’re putting the marquees on ebay at reduced prices to clear them.
These are not standard stock items but they are very very good. Essentially they are all pagoda design marquees with a combination of our commercial and deluxe features -2.3m tall eaves, 500gsm PVC, 38mm framework.
There’s some on buy it now and there’ll be some on auction in the next few days:
We’re always looking to improve both our products and our product range. The original designs and most of the improvements come from our own marquee hire experience but many key features have come directly from customer feedback.
If you have an idea for a new marquee product or an improvement to an existing product we’d love to hear from you any time but now especially. Around this time of year is when we start planning the products we’re going to put in to testing next year for full scale production the year after.
Anyone who’s been to view the marquees at our factory recently will know we’ve had a prototype new style of marquee up which looks to have passed all testing and should be ready for next year (we may have a demo at the showmans show, not sure as yet).
So if you’ve got an idea or wondering why something doesn’t already existing in the industry doesn’t exist then please let us know. If we agree with you then we’ll start designing a solution along with the latest batch of other ideas and improvements we’ve had.
The Showmans Show is again at Newbury and will be held on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October.
For those of you unaware The Showman’s Show is the one show aimed at marquee hire companies. Any serious supplier to the marquee hire trade will have a stand there and it’s well worth a visit, you can meet specialist companies in marquee hire insurance, furniture, heating, flooring, staging and just about anything else you can fit in a marquee.
New products are usually launched at The Showman’s Show so it’s worth keeping an eye on even if it’s not something you need immediately just knowing what’s going on in the industry can help greatly.
We’ll have our usual stand on Avenue E so do pop in and have a chocolate. (our stand from last year circled below)
As a marquee hire company you need to offer your customers choice. One particular decision is what type of top table to use at a wedding. 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 bride, 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
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
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.
A good marquee electrical problem was posted on the forum, unfortunately it was lost in a database error just before the forum closed. I think it’s worth posting here not to scaremonger but to reinforce my post of a couple of weeks ago stating you should only tackle electrical tasks you are confident in.
This was originally posted by Dean from the excellent Style marquee:
We work as health and safety advisors to several venues. I recently turned up to one of these venues to find the marquee supplier (not us I should point out) had run the electrics out from a barn. The barn had a 63amp socket, a 32amp socket and one 13amp socket. They had plugged in to the 32amp socket with an adapter down to a 16amp plug then run a mixture of 2.5mm & 1.5mm blue arctic cable leads to the marquee. This was then supplying the lights, bar, DJ and catering equipment (including tea urns and ovens) for the whole marquee.
Dean then went on to explain how he’d replaced all the electrics to make it safe despite it not being his marquee. His actions almost certainly prevented a major incident.
To explain, the main issues with the set up were:
The lead was overloaded. There is far far too much electrical equipment going through a lead of that size.
A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, in this case it’s the 1.5mm cable – that’s where the cable would melt/catch fire when everything in that marquee was turned on
Lack of protection. The 32amp socket would be protected by a 32amp trip. Fitting an adapter down to 16amp plugs/sockets/leads means those plugs/sockets/leads are going to get damaged before the trip comes in to play.
A very minor point compared to the above is the use of arctic cable. Most of the industry still use it but we recommend best practice is to always use 2.5mm HO7 cable for any 13 or 16amp leads
Dean was able to run an electrical supply from the 63amp socket out to a distribution board in the marquee that then safely supplied each element of the marquee. This is the best and safest way of supplying everything required in that marquee.
Unless you work at particular venues or run power from generators regularly you are unlikely to have or be trained in this sort of equipment.
If you turn up to a venue like this (and it is rare, usually venues use the same marquee companies repeatedly) with the power requirements listed above and are not sure how to handle it my recommendation is to get an electrician in to handle the electrics and charge that as a service on your quote. If it’s somewhere you’re likely to work at regularly then you may want to go on a course and buy the required equipment yourself (see our friends at Essential Supplies).
Of course if the only power required is your lights then that’s easy to run the extension lead across to plug in to that single 13amp socket and no electrician is required.
Just don’t try and ‘wing it’. There are many areas of marquee erecting where you can make it up as you go along (eg joining to a building, lining an unusual structure) electrics is not one of them.
Only tackle electrical tasks that you are very confident in carrying out
Always check for power supplies at a site visit so everything can be planned in advance
Always confirm the power requirements of everyone involved with the event well in advance to avoid being on site and bombarded with last minute power socket requests
Only tackle electrical tasks that you are very confident in carrying out
The marquee forum has sadly had to close. Several people put a lot of energy in to it (especially MalP, Style & CascadeChris) but the take up in the industry just wasn’t enough to justify the work involved in maintaining it.
Running the electrics usually comes under the marquee mans umbrella. It can be as simple as running an extension lead from the house, it can be complicated enough to justify getting an electrician in to look after the whole project.
The possible power requirements are:
Lighting (probably you organising this)
Music (DJ or band)
Bar (fridges etc)
Catering equipment (electrical tea urns and ovens can take a LOT of power)
It is always best practice to find out what electrical requirements there are before you turn up on site, personally I would mention it either at the site visit or in the quotation or both. Something along the lines of :
we will supply the electrical leads from the house for our lighting, if you require any other power in the marquee please notify us before the day of erection (additional charge may apply)
Whether you actually charge for additional power leads is up to you. It can seem a little petty but then running another couple of leads neatly can add another hour or so on to a job.
I strongly strongly recommend that you only tackle electrical tasks that you are confident in. I would also recommend going on an Essential Supplies marquee electrics course that they run out of season to learn best practice.
Running the electrical lead across to the house for our lighting is easy and straight forward. Running another power lead to the house (plug in to a different room) for a band or DJ is easy. If you start to need power for catering then it’s usually a job for a generator or electrician as they require so much power.
If in doubt then drop us a line and we’ll recommend what to do.
The marquee itself is new and unused but the packaging is a bit scuffed up.
We’re also including a 6x10m second PVC roof. It was returned to us apparently with a small hole which we can’t find so we’re including it in this listing along with some repair PVC just to give flexibility.
Our commercial range exceed the standards of most marquees and party tents available, our deluxe marquees are a step up again in quality so there’s a lot of marquee available for potentially not much money!
I'm Spencer King, an ex-marquee erector. This blog is designed to help those running a hire business or thinking of starting. I don't claim to know everything, I'm just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I made!
Check out our event planning section for advice on planning your own marquee event.
Please contact us if we can help or offer advice in any way.
I'm human, I make mistakes. All advice offered on this site is to the best of my knowledge and written in goodwill. If you find anything factually incorrect, offensive or generally disagreeable please contact me and it will be removed immediately.
I disclaim any liability incurred in connection to information supplied in this blog.