Sarah Halfpenny Events

8 practical tips to ensure your marquee event isn’t a washout!


by Sarah Halfpenny

Having recently managed a large VIP event held in a marquee in a very isolated and unusual location, it reminded me that producing an event outside of a typical venue has its own unique set of challenges. In this blog I shall outline a few practical tips that will help you plan and deliver a successful Marquee event.

1) Think Location
First things first, you have to ensure the location of the marquee site is both sensible and practical. By this I mean, will your guest and indeed suppliers be able to easily locate and access it?
Secondly you need to ensure the ground you are building on is not to uneven. If it is, then your interlocking floor will not interlock! Also, don’t site the marquee at the bottom of a hill, I just have two words for this, rain and drainage!
If the marquee is being constructed on concrete or other hard surface, then it will also need to be weighted down. This is achieved through filling plastic containers with water to ensure additional stability. Therefore, do check to see if this is a requirement and if so you will need to ensure there is access to a nearby water tap.
Lastly, remember to look UP! Yes, make sure there are no overhead obstructions that may hinder your build.

2) Numbers
When you start to search for a marquee for your event, do ensure you have a delegate figure in mind. This will influence the marquee style and size options available to you.
I would also advise that you view the marquee first before confirming your order. Its not until you stand in it will you fully appreciate how it will look and feel.

3) Seek experienced field Caterers
Ensure your chosen caterer is confident setting up and using a field kitchen. Ask for a detailed list of their on-site requirements such as catering tent, tables, generators and lighting etc. to ensure the catering operation is supported.
Also when selecting your menu, be realistic with your expectations. They will be using a mobile kitchen with an unfamiliar layout and restriction’s on space, so work alongside the catering team to ensure the menu choice can realistically be prepared on site.

4) Plan the internal layout
Plan the internal layout as much as you can before you start to build the event space. This will provide you, your client and all suppliers a draft vision of what the end result should look like. From experience once all the furniture and equipment is in place, things do tend to shuffle around a little bit, but that’s ok.

5) Think deliveries and space
When you are building an event from scratch, there are often up to a dozen suppliers who need to make deliveries. Schedule your deliveries so the site doesn’t get to overcrowded with delivery and event build staff.
Also think about the order in which you need things to be delivered. For example, make sure the generators are in place for the suppliers that need them and get toilets on site so the staff can use them!

6) Think Equipment
Most marquee events will need some source of power for heating, lighting, PA systems, catering equipment and toilets etc. You therefore need to hire generators to power your event. Beware though, I have had personal experience of a company delivering only the generators themselves leaving me to find red diesel and extension leads!! Ask what additional equipment you may need before you get on site so you don’t end up having to run around finding what you need.
In addition, I do not arrive on site without my box of essential equipment such as my laptop, phone, chargers, scissors, safety pins, masking tape, double sided tape, extension leads and bottles of water!

7) Plan parking and guest access
If your marquee is in an unconventional setting, then you will need to think carefully about access, parking and safe walkways for guests. If you don’t want your guests parking half a mile away and walking through muddy puddles then perhaps you could put on a shuttle bus services to get them to the site safely, on time and in tack!

8) Think site security
Most marquee event builds take a day or two to set up, and if you are anything like me then I like to get as much in place as humanly possible the night before. This poses a question around the security of the site. Most suppliers will not feel comfortable or even allow their equipment to be left overnight in an unsecure area. You will therefore need to factor into your event budget overnight security cost.

These tips are things that I have had personal experience of and I hope you find then helpful.
Remember, a marquee event is unique in so many ways and needs that little extra care and attention to ensure, especially the build aspects, it runs smoothly.