Berry Marquees is a London-based, national operating innovative marquee design company. Their client list stretches clear across the market from the traditional pomp and pageantry of the royal palaces to the edgy cool of London Fashion Week. Their bridal clients include some of the top planners in the country for whom they have delivered extraordinary designs for celebrity brides and bespoke structures across Europe.
However as a nimbly price structured medium size company with a genuine flare for design they are called upon throughout the year by brides on less starry budgets but requiring equally stellar weddings.
We spoke to Sam Phillips, Sales & Marketing Manager about the industry and picked up a few tips along the way…
- 5 Star Weddings: What sets Berry Marquees apart and makes you the company of choice for the celebrity planners such as Mark Niemierko
Berry Marquees: No matter for whom we are working; all our projects receive;
- An innovative, imaginative and creative design team
- The finest quality, pristine equipment
- An enthusiastic and skilled construction team
- A polished finish
It is instilled in every member of our team, and every stage of the process that although we may do this every day, this is never an ‘everyday’ job. This is someone’s dream and it is our responsibility to help realise it.
- 5 Star Weddings: So tell us about Kate’s Canopy… How did that unfold and were you sworn to secrecy?
Berry Marquees: We are proud to be a preferred supplier to the Goring and were delighted when they entrusted us with this high profile instillation. Obviously there were a number of challenges to overcome. We needed a sympathetic design which would be in keeping with the hotel, but obviously although small it had a very important job to do!
We produced a whole series of different precision CAD drawings and 3D visualisation for the hotel and the family and commissioned a bespoke structure. We now use that as an entrance way for some of the bridal marquees, its fun for the brides to have a royal entrance. We were absolutely sworn to secrecy! As a company we work at a number of the royal palaces, government hospitality, royal barracks etc., so our teams already have high security vetting.
- 5 Star Weddings: With modern tent designs pretty much the sky¹s the limit… Where do you start with helping a bride to decide what she wants?
1. We start with what they actually need /size/situation/guest numbers/lounge/dancing everything that would go into their perfect day
2. next task is to look at the practicalities of the site – access points /levels of the ground/abilities of guests/protecting the environment
(incorporation of the garden design, protecting the grass, making good any hard standing etc,).
3. Then we get to the fun stuff. The design concept. What do the couple actually want. What best will reflect their personality, colour choices, style incorporation of surroundings. Are they looking for chic club feel, a cool clean indoor/outdoor look, perhaps they want a fun country fete feel…
4. Finally we present a selection of options including computer added visualisations of how the the structure will appear to help inspire but never pressure a decision
- 5 Star Weddings: What are some of the trickiest challenges you have to overcome when building a design in a stately home or royal palace?
Protection of the existing historic environment – This is fundamental and requires a great deal of experience, a high level of team training and a sympathetic understanding for the very difficult job being done by the building’s management team. Constraints of access are almost always a big issue, there may be narrow gateways meaning large well trained teams are required simply to get the equipment onto site without causing any disruption or damage.
Security of the site. These structures are large and hazardous. Adherence to the strictest health and safety standards are vital to assure the ownership of a site that the public are being protected and not inconveniencedduring the build.
Do not disturb! Working at sites such as Kensington Palace on an almost daily basis for periods during the year; we have to be pretty sensitive not to upset the residents. Time pressures – working around the day to day function of the building we have to be willing to be very flexible about our working hours. Fundamentally; to do a good job in these challenging surroundings, a company must be utterly conscientious at all times!
- 5 Star Weddings: What trends are you seeing in the luxury sector?
Berry Marquees: Bespoke bespoke bespoke… Unique and memorable for all the right reasons. Every client wants to push the envelope that little bit further these days. Internet searching ensures that everything that has been done, has been seen… It has to be new and different now – every time! Glass walls providing views in and out of the structures are increasingly popular, after all why pay a small fortune for elegant surroundings to your marquee if you then can’t see them.
Terraces and decks on the structures. They are an elegant way to give your structure a very ‘clubby’ feel as well as a nice way incorporate your surroundings and not isolate smoking guests.
Multiple reception areas and rooms providing different feels through the event are an ideal way to create different moods and accommodate different
groups within your guest list Feature bars are really popular right now as design statement within that area of the marquee. Secret and surprise areas being revealed as the event progresses. Because of the structure of a marquee it is easy to ‘hide’ an area, such as a dance room and then reveal it and reenergise guests after dinner. Coloured PVC is really going in popularity. We have just begun offering black tents which create a fantastic lighting canvas for a dance tent.
- 5 Star Weddings: Are you able to cross over designs from events such as London Fashion Week into the chic wedding sector?
Berry Marquees: YES! We recently created a raised seating and sunken levels design for a wedding which was heavily influenced by a design we had built for LFW. We have also created a number of very clean white spaces in the last couple of years. Although their is a great deal ‘going on’ within the room, the uniform colour palette keeps the focus on the bride and groom, they take centre stage, just like a fashion show.
- 5 Star Weddings: Why do you think a marquee is a better choice for a modern bride?
Berry Marquees: Ah, that’s an easy one! Can you imagine walking into a hotel ballroom and asking to add on a lounge space or french- windows to an outside deck you would like to create with a fire pit?- Its about choice and self expression – a totally unique, never to be repeated, space, entirely inspired by and reflective of the couple. – imagination is the limit.
- 5 Star Weddings: Where does your role cease and the planner¹s begin?
Berry Marquees: This can work in two ways. We can be approached directly by the wedding couple and work with them throughout the design and build process or we can work as an extension of the event planner’s team creating a structure based on his/her concept for the day. Either way we can be there from initial idea right through the event itself supporting an ensuring everything runs smoothly.
- 5 Star Weddings: What would be your 5 top tips for a bride deciding on a temporary structure?
Berry Marquees: 1. Determine your budget and be open about it from the outset. A company such as ours will instil the exact same amount of creativity and dedication no matter what the budget. Every structure we create is an ‘advertisement’ for our business as well as the most important day of your life. You can be
assured it will be the best possible design for your money, but we need to know or parameters in order to plan
2. Research your suppliers! Request endorsements of work. Is the company you have selected a preferred supplier for any notable venues? Do they work for well any well-known planners? Can you see a project they are currently working on?
3. The longer the lead time you can provide the better this will be for your budget. Allowing decent source times means designers can shop around for materials required to create your perfect day.
4. Find a suitable site. If you don’t own the land the sooner the marquee company and the venue are talking to each other the better…. Get everyone together at the site as soon a possible and include other partners such as the caterer as they will have their own set of needs
5. Start to discuss the look and feel you want with your designer as soon as possible… Mood boards are great for this. The more information you provide on what you might want the more you can be confident of a comprehensive proposal and dream outcome.