As wedding season is all but upon us, restrictions permitting, we speak to the fabulous Apex Marquees who, with over 25 years experice, are the best in the business when it comes to all things marquee!
How did you get into events and Marquee hire?
More than 25 years ago I was looking for a country-based business that would allow a portion of the year free to pursue alternative interests. A summer seasonal initiative seemed like a good idea, with the added benefits of outdoor living, physical fitness and playing a role in the rural community to which I belonged. I had a friend who was already in the marquee industry, and we formed a loose partnership, working independently but joining forces as well.
What inspires you?
The magnificent landscape, gardens and houses where the majority of our work happens. It is breath-taking at times.
How many weddings and events do you do a year?
It’s not only weddings, of course. There are a whole range of parties, celebrations and even corporate events that we cover. But if your question is solely in relation to weddings, I would average 50.
What element do you think is most transformative to a marquee?
There is no one element that transforms, above all others. As you install and dress a marquee for an event, it is like adding building blocks, each of which embellishes the structure, stage by stage: the big top, the flooring, the interior lining, the lighting, the furniture, the ornamental details, and then, of course, the floristry and table styling. I get a good insight into the final elements through our close liaison with my wife’s company, Punch Event Management.
What do you think is the most important part to factor in when planning a marquee wedding or event?
It’s boring but it’s a fact of life that budget underpins everything, and for the majority of clients it’s a matter of understanding where their priorities lie in relation to budget. But the most important basic factors to bear in mind when working out those priorities are: 1. Protection from the volatility of the British weather (roof cover, wet underfoot and warmth being the most vital). 2. Ensuring a good, reliable power supply. 3. Accessibility: for everything in the run up to the event (deliveries, different teams of workers, with all their different vehicles) and, of course, for guests. 4. Getting all your timings right on the day. To a great extent – with larger events – this relies on having a good event manager (if you go down that route and can afford it), and/or making sure you have a great caterer with a track record not just for good food but for getting everything out on time at the right time. This is the backbone of a successful wedding day.
What advice would you give to couples planning their wedding?
First of all, imagine the worst and protect yourself against it, ie be ready for bad weather, make sure the cold outside will not ruin everything inside, and ensure your caterer is able, dynamic and a can-do person, with a first rate team. Grooms should chip in their ideas as well as brides and their mothers (too often grooms skitter around on the side lines). And – importantly – don’t get bogged down by excessive detail too early in the planning. I’ve known couples agonising, 12 months in advance, about what side of the car they’re going to get out of. This kind of mental turmoil does not make for a smooth final few weeks.
To you what makes a wedding or event memorable?
Good food, a good crowd and good music are the icing on the cake. People like us (marquees, flowers, decorators) set the scene, but the real zest is what actually happens on the day. A good photographer will enshrine this, of course, so, I guess, he/she is also vital for the memories. Not a good idea to rely on a well-meaning amateur friend or relative to do this job.
We can’t ignore COVID and the impact that it has had on our industry, unfortunately. What longer term changes do you think we will see as a result from this?
Only the reckless would make predictions at a time like this, because predictions are being derailed at every turn. But I really do believe that, if the vaccine proves effective and resistant to mutations, everyone will want things to return in the long term to how they were before. The industry evolved the way it did to satisfy market demands and I see no reason why, after a short interlude, those market demands will not be equivalent to what they were.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Without question, it is the warm relationship I form with clients while helping them prepare for one of the most important days of their lives. So often I feel absorbed (in the short-term at least) into the family, on a fast track to shared intimacy, excitement and post-event relief. Nothing is better than returning to the same garden a couple of years later with the same family, for the next wedding, to reawaken that special warmth again.
What question do you wish more couples asked you?
“Would you and your team like a cup of tea right now, or when would be convenient?” !!
What is your favourite time of year for a wedding/event and why?
I like September events, because the weather is usually still pretty good, but it gets darker earlier, allowing for a completely different evening atmosphere, both inside and outside the tent.
What one thing do you think would surprise people about your industry?
The extent to which there is very little new under the sun for us. Rather like doctors who have seen and dealt with almost every ailment imaginable, we have been-there-before with pretty much anything that can affect an outdoor event, and I like to let nervous clients know this as soon as possible, to calm their jitters from the outset.
If you are thinking about having a marquee wedding, visit Apex Marquees to find out more.