DIY Marquee Weddings: helpful tips!

Organising your own marquee wedding without a wedding planner may seem daunting, but all you need is good suppliers working together to ensure your big day runs to plan. Always choose seasoned wedding-industry suppliers – we understand how important your ‘big day’ is to you, and we want it to be your perfect day too!

Here are a few tips to get you started.

The bonus of having a marquee wedding is that you can virtually pick the location of your dreams for your big day and avoid costly venue-hirage. Whether at your own home (or someone else’s), on a beach, at a regional park or atop a building, your location options are endless. You do however need to consider what key suppliers you have available to you if your chosen site is outside of main centres. Transportation costs can be hefty if you have a number of different suppliers, so try to book as many services as you can with a single reputable vendor.

There are a number of excellent caterers out there so make sure you ask around and get at least 3 recommendations before you book anyone. Don’t just book a caterer based on their website. Great food is a very important part of a great celebration, and you want to be able to trust everyone is going to enjoy it, including yourself. Established caterers are happy to set up ‘sampling sessions’ so you can try their wares. Of course, do keep in mind any guests that may have certain dietary restrictions. If you have chosen a location such as a park, paddock, hill-top or similar, do remember your caterers will need to bring all heating and cooking equipment to site – this is no mean feat when you are talking numerous ovens and gas bottles. Consider also that they will need a reliable power source and cover for their catering area. There’s nothing worse than tepid food on your wedding day. Most good caterers are able to supply all glassware, crockery, linen and cutlery too. Compare their rates with a local supplier to make sure you get the best possible deal.

Don’t rely on a near-by house or venue to supply your power source for your caterers, lighting and sound. Hiring a generator will eliminate any potential fuse-blows (imagine the lights and sound going out mid first-dance!). Generators are reasonably priced and worth the extra expense. Depending on where your location is, you are looking at around $300 for a basic generator, plus transportation. They really are worth their weight in gold and will save you any unnecessary stress.

Always draw up a floor-plan (or have a supplier create one for you). It doesn’t have to be a perfect drawing – just a simple sketch of where you want your bridal table, guest’s tables, dance-floor and the likes. Having one floor-plan makes everything so much easier for suppliers, and eliminates any confusion about placement of furniture, lights, heating and so on. With one simple floor-plan, suppliers can work together to put everything in place as you want it, on your behalf. A floor-plan will save you time and money in the long run. To have everything run smoothly on your big day, also write up a ‘run-sheet’. List exactly what times you want everything on your big day to take place, from when you arrive at your wedding location to when you leave it. Give copies of your run-sheet to all of your suppliers, particularly your caterer/s, so they can all have a timing plan to work toward on the day.

(5) AMBIENCE – lighting, decor and sound
Simple, quality lighting makes the world of difference under a marquee and is not to be underestimated. At Schupepe we believe ‘less is more’ because the interiors of  our tents are as striking as the exterior which means you don’t need to worry about installing costly decor or props. With a few up-lights and a trim of fairy-lights you really don’t need anything more to set a stunning romantic vibe.

Get creative with your table centre-pieces. Your guests will love to see your own personal touches so dust off some old photos and trinkets and mix them in with candles and flowers. And don’t forget to grab a nicely bound blank book for guests to write in as they arrive at your reception – while you will have all of your closest friends and family around you on this big day, you won’t necessarily get to talk to them all, so give them the opportunity to leave you a special note that you can treasure and reflect on in future.

Sound is very important too. Guests want to hear your speeches, so invest in a simple hired sound system with either lapel or standard microphones. Test your sound-levels before your big day (or have a sound technician set the levels for you on the day.) Always bring a back-up ipod or CD’s ‘just in case’. Make sure your music is set at levels that aren’t ear-splitting so all guests young and old can enjoy it. A basic sound system shouldn’t cost more than $400 to hire, and you will only need a sound technician for a few hours – a ‘sound’ investment!

Everyone wants their wedding day to run smoothly but we don’t all have funds for a wedding planner or event manager. Once you have picked your caterers and suppliers and have a basic plan together, pick someone you trust to be your ‘big day manager’ – even if it costs you a couple of hundred dollars. Don’t expect this of your maid-of-honour or groomsman, close family or friends as they will want (and deserve) to celebrate your big day with you. Ask around for recommendations for a hospitality professional that will work on your behalf to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. You should be able to get a professional in for an entire day for around $300. Good hospitality professionals know how an event should run and can operate as the ‘go-to’ person for all other suppliers should a problem arise. The key focus here is to ensure everybody has a fantastic day and is fed, watered and entertained. You want beautiful pictures of happy content guests, right? While you will have a catering manager on site, they may not be familiar with your sound-system or lighting, and you need them to focus on your food, not manage the entire affair. Sit down with your ‘big day manager’ a few days before your wedding day and finalise your run-sheet and floor-plan with them. Have them call your suppliers and introduce themselves so on the day everyone knows ‘who’s in charge’. This person will know when it’s time to light candles, turn on lights, turn music up or down, serve your mains, call taxi’s for guests, change a table-cloth if someone spills a drink, clear empty glassware and bottles, clean ashtrays and all those other things that you shouldn’t have to worry about on your big day.

You need to allow yourself to ‘let go’ of controlling the day and really enjoy yourself. This will be one of the most important days of your life so let the professionals do what they do  best!