Here at Ivory Lane HQ when we meet with clients they are often getting married on their family property and are having a marquee wedding - or sometime at a venue that provides a marquee wedding option. We consider ourselves to be at the forefront of marquee wedding expertise! There are so many things to consider when organising and planning a marquee wedding so our founder Jane has put together responses for our most FAQs regarding marquee weddings with a few of our past marquee weddings featured throughout.
1. ARE MARQUEE WEDDINGS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A VENUE?
In short, yes. The reason being marquee weddings are significantly more difficult, take more time, require more components and vendors to pull the day together. People often don't consider things such as additional hire equipment, catering equipment, power sources, access to the venue, prepping the area for the wedding - this all costs $$$$ and often isn't taken into consideration when deciding on a marquee wedding. Venues tend to provide all inclusive packages and you don't need to hire in a catering tent for your caterers or organise a bar area for your bar staff - the list goes on. We LOVE a well-organised and well-executed property wedding. They are our favourite type of wedding/event to do as there is so much more freedom in a number of areas rather than adhering to a venues terms and conditions.
2. HOW DO I PICK THE PERFECT LOCATION FOR A MARQUEE?
We have visited so many picturesque locations for marquee weddings over the years. Often the couples first choice is definitely the most awesome - with the best view, however, it often isn't the most practical for vehicle/truck access, power access, water access etc. These are all components that will be needed throughout the wedding setup, preparation, and on the day and will help everything run as smoothly as possible so there are no "Uh oh - we didn't think of that." moments which is what needs to be alleviated as early on as possible.
The ideal location is completely level area with more than enough room for the size of your marquee, room for toilets/bathrooms, close access to water and power (if a generator isn't an option), and has ease of access for the arrival and unloading of vendors, equipment and guests. No one wants their guests traipsing through an overgrown paddock for a few hundred meters in their best outfit and heels, no matter how nice the location may be.
3. WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO HIRE OTHER THAN A MARQUEE?
The marquee is the bare bones of the event - and is always a MUST have option - even if you are having an open air wedding. Open air weddings are amazing and beautiful but the weather literally needs to be absolutely perfect. It is not only rain that can ruin the day, but also wind. Wind is way more destructive than rain - centrepieces don't stay on tables, things blow over etc. Being able to lock the elements out as much as you can in the case of inclement weather is a very SMART option.
For additional hire you will need to bring in absolutely everything you will find in a venue. The main things is obviously furniture, including; chairs, tables, bar tables, stools, lounges, a bar - the list goes on depending how far you would like to go. Lighting is also an important aspect of a marquee wedding. Obviously lighting is needed in the marquee (feature lighting is very on trend at the moment), but it will also be needed outside the marquee. Some examples of additional lighting are; lighting around the outdoor canapé area, lighting leading to the bathrooms, lighting leading to the carpark or the drop off/pickup point for guests and lighting in the catering tent. You will need to hire a tent for you caterers to prepare and cook food - unless they are using a kitchen in a nearby building.
Hiring a flooring in your marquee isn't a necessity, but is a good option, in case of bad weather to keep everything and everyone dry. Most hire companies have a number of flooring options to suit their marquees. Be prepared to pay nearly as much for flooring as you do for the marquee. It is a very time consuming and expensive product to purchase and install - so definitely weight up the pros and cons of flooring for your particular marquee site.
Along with this you will need to provide your guests with glassware, cutlery, crockery, table linen, napkins, and water jugs etc. Sometimes catering companies will supply these items within their services so always ask the question - otherwise you will need to hire them. Another important item needed is a cool room to keep your alcohol cold and your caterer may request one as well to store food.
Power sources are always good to have as a backup even if you are running power from a nearby building or shed. Generators are worth their weight in gold particularly if you are running a lot of things that draw significant amounts of power, like cool rooms, band equipment, lots of lighting, and power tools during setup. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND hiring a generator for your wedding to avoid the power tripping mid-way through dinner and being left in darkness (this has happened). Having the power trip is not uncommon and it is a good idea to spend the extra couple of hundred dollars to run the bigger items from different power sources to ensure there is no hiccups with power and keeping your alcohol cold! It is far better to over compensate and have more power than what you will need to avoid any power mishaps.
4. DO I NEED A COORDINATOR?
When you hire a venue, most usually come with a coordinator to ensure you event runs to plan and on time. It is the coordinators job to liase with and ensure every vendor you have hired (catering, celebrant, photographer, bar staff, videographer etc.) know exactly what is happening (bump in and bump out) in days leading up to the wedding and on the wedding day and understand how the venue runs and the processes they have in place.
At a property wedding - this does not exist. No one is there to sort out who does what, and what goes where. Amongst the business of setting up a wedding and the emotion during the lead up to the day, it is very hard to ask a family member (who may have little to no experience in this sort of thing) to ensure absolutely everything runs according to plan for your wedding day.
If you don't plan on employing a coordinator, we hope your day runs perfectly and according to plan with no hiccups or complications along the way. Professional coordinators are ready and prepared for the hiccups, know how to deal with them, and alleviate the issues with little to no fuss and also prevent the parents of the couple, or the property owner, running around like a mad person trying to rectify the issue.
For property weddings we HIGHLY RECOMMEND hiring a coordinator to be a point of contact for both family and vendors throughout the wedding day process. A coordinator is there to help you ensure everyone (vendors and guests) knows what is happening, where they need to be and what time things need to happen. It is virtually impossible for the Bride or Groom to do this on their own wedding day - believe me we have had people try and it usually ends in disaster or tears. This is one of the most significant days in your life and you want it to go to plan right? - Hire a Coordinator!!
5. HOW DO I DRESS THE MARQUEE TO FIT MY THEME?
In the realm of Pinterest the DIY images seem so achievable right? We have seen some amazing marquee weddings some completed on tiny budgets and some completed on very healthy budgets. The trick here is to know your concept, and know your budget. The two run very closely alongside each other. Most marquees are adaptable to incorporate many different styles and themes. The traditional clear span marquee is perfect for anything from a traditional white wedding, to a bohemian themed fiesta. The more contemporary marquees such as the Hamptons Style Tents (like our Ivory Lane Event Tent) are all the rage at the moment and can be adapted to suit almost any theme or concept. The Tipi tents that are around work fantastic for bohemian or festival type weddings that have a casual lady back vibe.
We do recommend hiring professionals to install lighting and any hanging pieces from the marquee. It is always good to check with your hire company what they will and wont allow in terms of DIY installation - as you do not want to lose your security bond through making an uneducated decision.
Choosing the right furniture for your concept is also vital to nailing the look and feel of your event. Make sure you have enough seating for your guests both in and outside the marquee is always a smart move.
Touching base with hire company to ask what they would recommend from their ranges to bring your ideas to life is a good option, or hiring a stylist is a good option if you are not the hands on type. A stylists job is to bring your vision to life and then add a touch of flair and elegance with pin point accuracy and attention to detail. Stylists want to get to know you both as people and bring that into your overall concept to ensure your wedding day and the look of it reflects who you are as a couple.
6. WHAT LOGISTICS NEED TO BE ORGANISED TO ENSURE EVERYTHING GOES TO PLAN?
Booked your caterer, marquee company, furniture hire company, DJ? Great, good work! So now you have booked everyone in you can relax right? Well sort of…. It is imperative that you have your vendors arriving in consecutive order to make the bump in (and bump out) process run as smoothly as possible.
Your job as the property owner is to have the ground prepped, level and the surrounding areas clear, with good vehicle access for the hire companies (which usually have decent sized trucks/trailers) so they can easily get as close to the marquee site as possible. It is not ideal to make your vendors walk a long way to get to the site as most lifting on site is done by hand and this will only slow the process down. The marquee is the first thing that should be erected approximately 3-4 days before your wedding. Following on shortly after with other items such as portable toilets, catering tents, cool rooms etc.
Secondly, the hire company with furniture, lighting and other large pieces should be delivered and placed in their locations (if you have a stylist/coordinator they may be on hand to supervise this part). This is usually done the day before the wedding or in extremely circumstances the morning of.
Tables then need to be set, decor needs to be placed and the florist should be then given access to the marquee to undertake installations and placement of centrepieces etc. This can be done the day before if the weather is cool, however, in the hotter months the floristry work should be completed on the day of the wedding ideally.
The DJ/Band should have access the morning of the wedding to setup and be shown their area, and then you will find your coordinator/stylist/florist fluttering around placing place cards, menus and completing final touch ups as needed to ensure it is absolutely perfect for the entrance of your guests.
This all then needs to be done in reverse for pack down. This is why marquee weddings can take up to 5 days or more!
7. WHAT CAN I DO IF THERE IS INCLEMENT WEATHER?
HAVE. A. BACKUP. PLAN. We aren't joking. Marquees are temporary structures and can withhold a bit of rain and wind, but if the weather you are experiencing in days leading up to the wedding is flooding, cyclonic weather, fire etc. it is always good to have a backup location or venue in case you cannot physically hold the wedding at your desired place.
Don't think this wont happen to you as we have had this happen at least once a year since starting Ivory Lane - access to the location had been cutoff due to torrential rain and flood 2 days before the wedding - an empty marquee was left sitting on the property and the wedding was moved into town, the wind was too severe so the marquee couldn't go up, the property had a bushfire rip through it weeks before and the location was destroyed. (Yeah, you're actually thinking about this now aren't you?)
Most people think that if they have an outdoor ceremony they will need a backup location in case of rain (you definitely do!) - we recommend having a backup reception location as well. Hire companies will not compromise their equipment or the safety of guests if there is inclement weather - so don't be surprised if you are told that your marquee wedding may not happen as you envisioned. We always ask our clients what their backup plan is - so make sure you have a plan in place so we can ensure you wedding day goes off without a hitch.
8. WHAT OTHER VENDORS DO I NEED TO BOOK FOR A MARQUEE WEDDING?
Other than you marquee hire company and furniture hire company vendors that you should definitely consider are:
- A celebrant or minister
Someone to legally marry you would be a wise investment!
- A Photographer
Someone to capture the most memorable moments of your day.
- A videographer
Someone to capture the words spoken, the body language and loving moments throughout your wedding day.
- A Florist
Someone to create amazing arrangements to adorn your Marquee and ceremony location. #musthave
- A Caterer
This is pretty obvious really. Your wedding is likely to be the biggest party you will ever throw in your life and you want to ensure your guests are fed and watered. Whether it be cocktail or sit down, make sure there is more than enough food as people who are drinking tend to get hungry again at around 10:30-11pm.
- A Coordinator
Please see Q.4. If this doesnt convince you that you need one, nothing will.
- A DJ/Band
So you can dance the night away under the stars or in the marquee. Investing in a good band/DJ is always a promising dance floor starter so we recommend finding a fab one that can suit your music tastes and budget.
- Bar Staff
This is probably one of the most underestimated roles of the wedding day. Many people think 'Oh we will just get old mate from the RSL down the road to do the bar.' Ok, good luck to you and the 100+ parched guests all wanting a drink at the EXACT. SAME. TIME. with one bar guy behind the bar.
Investing in a professional bar service and bar tenders should be on the top of the priority list for most people - a lot of couples say to us "We want good food and heaps of alcohol." If that is on the top of your priority list make sure you hire people that do this sort of thing for a job to ensure your table service is professional and prompt and your walk up bar has quick service with a smile and a bit of wedding day banter. Over estimate the amount of staff you will need. You will be surprised how adding an extra bar person will allow people to sit an enjoy their dinner without having to run to the bar every time their drink runs out. Good bar staff are worth their weight in gold and will ensure your beverage needs are met with professionalism and satisfaction.
- A Stylist
Stylists are the people that bring the Pinterest wedding to life! They do this week in week out and live and breath textures and cute decor items that will really bring a space together. They also have a clear idea of spacial awareness and how much space is needed for different components of the day. They do this every weekend, and will ensure that your many hand written notes, magazine cutouts and drawings are taken into consideration when the final product is created. Hiring a stylist will alleviate a lot of stress and decision making. Once they have a few ideas of what you are after, they will fill the gaps with their knowledge and expertise and make the space look as beautiful as the bride on her wedding day.
9. DO I NEED INSURANCE?
Wedding insurance has come in and out in the past few years. If you can afford it, we think insuring your wedding is a very smart option. Not many times throughout life will you drop this amount of money on anything - unless it has wheels or you can live in it.
The property the wedding is held at should at least have standard public liability cover, and the vendors you hire should also have public liability insurance and equipment insurance in the case if anything were to happen throughout the event process. Feel free to ask your vendors if they have insurance and how it will cover you.
Adhering to each company's T&Cs will also cover your butt if anything were to happen. Terms and Conditions are there for a reason people, to protect you the client and to protect the business. So be smart, read through them and ask questions where necessary.
10. HOW CAN I MAKE THE SURE THE EVENT RUNS TO PLAN AND I DON'T BLOW MY BUDGET?
One word. PLAN. Plan every component of the day well in advance - don't underestimate the time taken to have a thorough and well developed wedding plan. Write it down. If you aren't a planning person and flow by the seat of your pants, hire one or confide in a close friend who is super organised and may have done this sort of thing before.
Know your budget before you start booking things! Booking things sporadically is a sure fire way to blow your budget. Most property marquee weddings fall between the $30,000 - $60,000 bracket. There are ways to save money, but it is about being savvy and investing where it is needed and where it is important to you as the couple.
Having a spread sheet of what you have budgeted for each component, and what it is actually costing you is a good way to stay on track with wedding budget spending. It is very easy to go over your budget in some areas, but getting second opinions or employing a planner to do the wheeling and dealing for you is a good way to save some $$$.
I hope this has helped those of you planning a marquee wedding! Feel free to ask any questions or email us at email@example.com.
The Ivory Lane Memoir
This is the blog of weddings and events Ivory Lane has been a part of and beautiful, unique ideas for your big day.