Marquee Weddings with Oh Happy Day

One of the biggest themes we have seen in weddings this year has been clear or “glass” marquees. Elegant, classy and oh so versatile, allowing you to create anything
your heart desires, 
we can see why brides are just drooling and we are expecting them
to be major #goals in 2020.

What are the ins and outs? What do they cost? What else do you need to hire? Are they expensive?
We chatted to Jo, from Oh Happy Day, who really needs no introduction.
She’s a multiple Top Vendor Wedding Awards winner and has had work featured internationally on Martha Stewart Weddings and Bridal Musings just to name a few, let just say, she knows her shit!

Having pulled together some incredible marquee weddings in her time, we have deemed Jo our expert, and we’ve asked her to share her knowledge with us today. All the images below are from weddings the Oh Happy Day team have created with their brides this year, so pour a cuppa, enjoy the magic and take some notes.

Over to you Jo!

Vanilla Photography

Marquee weddings are all the rage and are sure to be one if the top trends for 2020. There is something so grand and spectacular about creating something that is totally unique, and true to you and hubby. BUT it doesn’t come without it’s own list of pros and cons.

Without a doubt, there is something magical about a marquee wedding. How spacious they can feel with all the sides open, or the way the light reflects off the roof at night, not to mention versatility that comes with the ‘blank canvas’ approach that marquee weddings allow you.

Casey Pratt Photography

For us as a wedding planning company, it’s the challenge that we love, of pulling off a marquee wedding in such different conditions : we’ve produced this in the middle of the bush with no running water or power, we’ve had to execute it on an airstrip of a big 5 game reserve, on the banks of a lagoon, and most recently on a very wet farm (because #rain). Marquee weddings are an upcoming trend and this year alone, over 40% of Oh Happy Day weddings have been marquee weddings.

Vanilla Photography

Here are a few things I love about Marquee weddings:

  • The creative process of making each wedding stand out in its own different way is a huge pull-factor when designing and coordinating marquee weddings.
  • The sentimental aspect, of being able to host a wedding at a bride’s home, on the farm, in the bush or near to the beach or wherever carries significant meaning for our brides and their family.
  • You can have it literally anywhere (location space dependent)
  • You can make it as intimate or as large as you like
  • You aren’t confined by time restrictions (most venues charge by the hour, after midnight)
Vanilla Photography

From the costs, to the logistics, to the hire requirements – there’s a lot to think about when it comes to pulling off a seamless and functional marquee reception. This why it’s a good idea to hire a wedding planner who is experienced in executing marquee weddings, who can ensure that every aspect is covered and who can do some of the more complicated arranging on your behalf, leaving the fun parts of planning your day to up to you.

If you’re considering having a marquee wedding, here are a few things you may or may not have considered:

    We are proud to work with some of the best marquee suppliers in the country because we know the difference between cheap and a good deal. If it seems too good to be true, ask to have a look at their marquee in action at an event, make sure the plastic is clean before it goes up and always request an engineer’s certificate when you request your quotation. Our suppliers may not be the cheapest, but when it comes to service and value for money, we trust that they aren’t going to give us tents that collapse or blow off in the wind. They also won’t leave until we’re 100% happy with their production because they take pride in their work, just like we do.

    Vanilla Photography 
    Lighting, tables, chairs, bathrooms, electricity, running water – this all becomes your reponsibility… Where a conventional venue would provide all these things as part of their venue hire fee, you’d need to bring this all in yourself, and manage these logistics yourself (unless you’re hiring us to take care of this on your behalf).Having done so many marquee weddings, we know how important it is to have a well timed production schedule in place to manage each delivery and each stage of the execution – first flooring/decking, then the tent frames, then the lighting followed by florals and only thereafter can your tables and chairs be set in place. Your strike schedule will need to look similar, but obviously in reverse. Tables and chairs need to be collected first, followed by florals and lighting, followed by the tent and ending with the floor being dismantled.

    Vanilla Photography
    Glass marquees can be very uncomfortable for your wedding guests in summer, with both the sunny glare and the summer heat (have you ever spent 8 hours in a greenhouse in summer?) It’s not just about your guest comfort though, because the heat can also affect your candles and your florals.  To bring in electric fans or air-conditioning is an additional expense which needs to be included into your wedding budget if you choose to host your wedding in a glass marquee in summer.

    Vanilla Photography
    You will need power for everything related to your wedding : from the kitchen and their deep-fryers, to the lighting, the sound for your DJ, the internet connection for your bar service, and anything else that will require a power supply. When considering how much power you need, chat to each of your suppliers and get their energy requirements first, so that you know how big your generator will need to be. Previous experience has taught us that in most cases, running power from a nearby house is not a good idea. Trust us – there is nothing worse than power going out during dinner or speeches. You will also need an electrician or similar on standby for your wedding, to lay the cables properly and set up the DB board and to assist if the power does indeed cut out in the middle of your reception. We highly suggest hiring a reputable generator company/electrician to assist you with this part of the set up – even if it costs a you bit more, as it’s not something you want to scrimp on.

    Casey Pratt Photography
    You can generally work on a space allocation of 1,2m per guest when considering what size marquee to hire. Also remember to allocate enough space in the marquee for a buffet, a bar area and a dance floor space. Don’t try and figure this out the spacing on your own, but rather chat to your wedding planner or marquee specialist about your needs and your vision, and then lean on them for their guidance.You’re also going to need a smaller marquee set aside for your caterer to use as a kitchen tent. This space is also going to need power, lighting and trestle tables. Chat to your caterer about your marquee wedding before hiring them, to make sure they’ve worked in marquee spaces before, to get their kitchen requirements and to ensure that they’re comfortable working out of a temporary kitchen space.

    Vanilla Photography
    In most instances where a normal venue is concerned, your wedding planner would work alongside your venue coordinator to make sure everything is perfect. In the case of a marquee wedding, there is no venue coordinator to check that the toilets are still clean throughout the night, that the power still works, that the kitchen is functioning at its best or that the floors are swept and cleaned before the reception starts. This all falls on your wedding planner, who of course will need a bigger production and coordination team to cover all the bases of your perfect marquee wedding. This comes at an additional cost.It’s also going to cost you more to have a marquee wedding because you’d need to bring in all the items a traditional venue would typically have: like a cleaning team, power (a generator), tables, chairs, lighting (both inside the tent and in the canape area), a bar area, a kitchen, functioning toilets, etc. Each of these items will come from a separate supplier and each supplier will need to be managed accordingly, which is why I suggest you hire an experienced planner to carry out these logistics for you.

    Vanilla Photography


    The entrance and exit to your marquee needs to be large enough for each supplier truck to make it’s delivery. If the space is big enough for two trucks to arrive at the same time, then this is a bonus as your production schedule won’t be as manic.Parking is another consideration. Especially in the case where the wedding is on a farm and there’s no access to uber, you need to ensure that the surrounding areas are good enough to be used as parking areas for your guests’ vehicles, and that you have security onsite to direct parking and look after vehicles.Marquee weddings require a flat grassy surface, unless you’re wanting to use flooring (which we love!) Flooring is, however, an additional cost, so if you’ve chosen area is hilly or wet, ensure that you allocate extra budget for flooring and scaffolding. To be fair, this can sometimes equate to more than double the cost of the marquee itself, which is something to bear in mind when selecting the reception space for your marquee wedding.

    Vanilla Photography



 So…there you go. Oh Happy Day’s tips and tricks into executing the perfect marquee wedding!
Remember, the easiest way to have a marquee wedding is to get someone else to handle all the complicated stuff. Choose a planner with experience in this field. If you’re still keen to give it a go on your own, I hope you found this article informative and insightful – and don’t be afraid to ask for help (we’re happy to step in, wherever you are in your planning process!)

Jo + the Oh Happy Day team!

Vanilla Photography

I mean, if that didn’t convince you to have a Marquee wedding, then we are not sure what will!
We are so looking forward to seeing this trend grow in 2020.
Thank you Jo, for your incredible insight and guidance!

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, why not get in touch with the Oh Happy Day team, they certainly are magic makers and can bring your wedding vision to life.
CLICK HERE, you wont regret it!

Thank you to Casey Pratt and Vanilla Photography for the use of their images in this post.

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