First and foremost is a good dry and level site. Check the field in wet weather - does it flood? Are there wet parts and dry parts? You will probably need to use the field as a car park - will cars get in and out OK? Catering companies, marquee companies etc will need access with large vans to provide your wedding catering - it's really important that they can get on and off the site, caterers will require refrigerated vans within a few meters of the catering tent. Other suppliers such as the bar company, generator company and tableware deliveries will also need access with heavy vans. Marquee companies will conduct a site visit and will advise you on its suitability. Do you have a plan B site if your first choice is at risk of flooding or the ground being too wet to use?
Type of marquee
Marquees, Stretch Tents, Sperry Tents and Teepees (Tipis) and tents vary immensely in style and price; what works for you is down to personal preference, however be careful about going for the cheapest option. The last thing you want on your wedding day is a badly put up tent, or poor-quality tent that leaks, is drafty, is dirty and unkept or dangerous. If you’re not sure about what is available or need any further help, our event managers are more than happy to point you in the right direction and assist.
An annexed catering tent is essential to provide your wedding catering (or function catering); if it's not annexed (joined to the main structure) and it rains, the food might get wet and cold as it's brought out… and so might the waiting staff. The catering tent needs to have a wooden floor, lighting and dedicated electric sockets and a baffled entrance. A baffle means that your guests are not disturbed by the working kitchen. If you are having a tipi wedding, a straight sided catering tent makes life a lot easier for wedding caterers, as there is far more usable space.
Power supply - please do not try to save money by running extensions from houses, farms, sheds or the like. This can be dangerous, and as such we will only provide catering if a suitable generator is provided. A suitable generator will be wired up to distribution boards, with correct fuses and cable to supply commercial catering appliances. We can provide details for (or contact on your behalf) recommended generator companies who have quality equipment and provide an emergency backup service. They will want to know what power requirements you have, and will often call us to discuss what we need. There will also be requirements for your lighting, band, disco, toilets, and bar.
Position of catering tents/toilets/generators
We can advise on a position on a site visit if you wish- ideally toilets want to be at the back or side of the tent, and if possible, ask the marquee company to annex onto the main tent so that guests stay dry if it should rain. If not annexed, try to position so that guests leaving the tent don't have far to walk, and don't need to take a route past the catering tent - outside which will be our vans, rubbish bins, and clear down areas.
Size of Marquee
A good marquee company will advise on how big a wedding marquee you will need, considering space for tables, dance floor, extra evening guests and bar space. They will offer you a choice of linings, lighting style, entrance porches, and flooring; we would always recommend that you choose a wooden floor with carpet. Without a wooden floor, a carpet straight onto grass can be difficult for your guests and waiting staff to walk on. They will also provide you with an option for ducted heating which is usually gas heaters blowing hot air in through a series of ducts. It's worth remembering that the temperature late at night can drop considerably. The tipi-style companies often provide smokeless fire pits, which are a fun and attractive addition, but need careful thought in their position; one point to consider would be proximity to your bar and allowing a safe space for guests to queue. If it’s wet weather, do you have a plan for keeping guests dry once they leave their cars? Umbrella provision is often a good idea and marquee companies can provide covered walk ways.
Canapes at weddings and parties are fun, interactive food that can be eaten without queuing or breaking conversation, as waiting staff will circulate unobtrusively with platters. Conversely, they can be conversation starters if guests are stood with people they don’t know. Try to choose a mix of canape items that will cover all tastes – maybe a cheese, a fish, a meat and vegetarian option. If you are having a salmon starter, try to avoid choosing a salmon canape. Generally, four canapes per guest is sufficient over 1.5 hours. If you have a longer reception or want to replace a starter on your menu with canapes, then six or more per guest would work better. Not planning on canapes for your wedding? We would never dream of pushing anything onto you, but from experience if your wedding breakfast is going to be 3pm or later, your guests have possibly not had anything to eat since breakfast time, so some will be getting very hungry and possibly light headed - particularly if it’s a hot day and they have had a few reception drinks. Canapes do help in this circumstance. If this going to push your budget too far, just let us know; we have provided solutions such as bar nibbles and simple grazing tables with breads and dips previously.
Church Ceremony - allow an hour. Whilst on paper your service won’t take this long, an hour allows the possibility of an acceptably late bride, time to leave the church afterwards and a few photographs as you come out.
Photographs – can vary depending on whether you want lots of formal photos with all your wedding guests, less of the immediate bridal party, or just candid, informal shots, and where the photographs are being taken. Around 30 minutes would be an average for the bridal party photographs.
Travel and parking time – how far is the wedding venue from the church? Is it a straight forward journey or will it be potentially slow and take time for guests to park? Are your guests travelling by car or have you provided a bus?
Reception – drinks or drinks and canapés. 1.5 hours is a good period to allow for serving 4 canapés and a couple of reception drinks. If you want a longer reception of 2 hours, then 6 canapés are better suited to stop guests becoming hungry.
Line up – a formal lined up greeting by the bridal party as guests enter a marquee or venue. If you are planning on doing this then allow around 45-60 seconds per guest; it is time consuming.
Cake cutting – 5 minutes
Wedding breakfast – as a rough guide, a 3 course table served meal will take 2 hours.
Speeches – can vary immensely and don’t have to be at the end of the meal, it’s your wedding so do what works for you. They can be split or at the start. On average, they usually last somewhere around 30 minutes.
Example run of day –
12:30 – 13:30 Ceremony
13:30 – 14:00 Photographs and travel to venue
14:00 – 15:30 Canapé and drink reception
15:30 – 15:35 Guests seated
15:35 – 15:45 Cake cutting
15:45 – 17:45 Wedding Breakfast
17:45 – 18:20 Coffee, toast drink and speeches
Evening food – we would recommend leaving this until 9pm or later. If your guests have had a large meal late afternoon, which may not finish until 6-7pm (depending on your start time), then they are not going to be hungry until later on. If you have evening guests separate to daytime then many will have a light bite before arriving. Why not inform them in your invitation that there will be a “hog roast” served around 9:30pm?
Its your day
Remember its your day and you don't have to stick to convention!