Organising your own outdoor wedding or event can be overwhelming, especially as there are so many marquee and tipi companies out there telling you different things.
Elite Tents have helped in over 800 events and have nearly 10 years of experience, so we have put together some of the most Frequently Asked Questions to help clarify some of the phrases and details you may be wondering about. This message from Jacquie, the owner of Elite Tents gives an introduction and covers some of the key questions you might want to ask…
In truth not for the tents, they will go up on a slope if needed, but you need to be able to put a drink on a table without it sliding off or spilling, so if you are not sure if you ground is suitable test it out by taking your table, chair and drink of choice outside.
- the location for the tent(s) should be a reasonably flat, level surface with no protrusions and no overhanging trees or other obstruction
- the ground should be suitable for taking 2ft (60cm) tent pegs
- the ground should not be flooded or impervious to water
- the ground should have no underground power or utility services within 1 metre of the surface.
- the grass will be cut so as to be no more than 3 inches (8cm) long.
- there is a safe means of access both to the site and to within 20m of the tent(s) location for our Land Rover and trailer
Please be aware the damage waiver and refundable deposit only apply to accidental damage to the equipment on your hire contract with Elite Tents Ltd. We strongly recommend you also take out wedding insurance with a bone fide insurance company.
Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:
- the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
- an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
- an indoor sporting event;
- boxing or wrestling entertainment;
- a performance of live music;
- any playing of recorded music;
- a performance of dance;
- or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
- the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)
Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding would not require the event to have a licence unless the guests have been charged an admission fee whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.
Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You are allowed to give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.
- Between contract date and 4 calendar months before the event date – 50%
- Between 4 and 1 calendar month before the event date – 75%
- Any later than 1 calendar month before the event date – 100%
Sometimes circumstances arise where you might need to postpone your event. If this is the case then we will do our best to accommodate you but this may incur additional costs depending on the time of year, availability of the tents and equipment and amount of notice.
As an alternative there is an option to hire our Wallflex system which allows you to have the sides up but fill the opening with clear, pvc walls allowing you to view the outdoors but keep out the elements.
If your supplier does not have a postponement clause within the contract then postponement actually constitutes a cancellation and rebooking. Therefore if your cancellation fee is 25% for example, you would expect the cost of postponing to also cost you 25%. However this is something that suppliers and couples are encouraged to discuss and agree upon so that the postponement can take place and parties can work together. If an agreement cannot be made or if a supplier cannot make a date that the couple finally settle on, then the supplier will probably expect to retain the booking/cancellation fee or deposit.
- What you are cancelling
- Who you are cancelling
- Why you are cancelling
What you are cancelling
By nature of the industry, most weddings are unique – one off dresses, personalised decor, bespoke menus. The time and effort put into a wedding by many of the suppliers means that almost everything that you have chosen for your big day will have taken more time, effort and cost on the part of the supplier. In the main wedding suppliers offer you a ‘service’ rather than a product. Consequently the closer to your wedding day you decide to cancel the more effort will have been put into the service and the less likely it will be they can resell that date.
Therefore if you decide to cancel you should expect to pay a percentage towards the overall costs of the business. This percentage will vary from suppler to supplier but will be a pre-estimate which includes the running costs of the business: rent, rates, admin costs, insurance, IT, marketing etc.
Who you are cancelling
The large ticket items you have booked for your wedding will almost certainly be the ones that you booked the earliest. These are things like your venue, caterer and possibly the dress. With all of these you should have signed a contract committing to your date and requirements. The dress is a slightly different situation as depending on where you purchase it, the dress may fall under more ‘general retail’, but if it is bespoke, a designer dress or has been altered specially for you it would fall into the same category as your venue and catering as something that cannot be easily resold. The smaller ticket items, like photographers, bands, florists and make up artists are usually booked closer to the event date and so may have lower cancellation terms. However the most important thing for you as a couple is to check the contract you signed, because the truth is that when you sign a contract it is a legally binding document – whether you have taken the time to read the Terms and Conditions or not.
Why you are cancelling
Until 2020, the most common reason for a couple to cancel their wedding is shall we say ‘a change of heart’. Sometimes couples split up or simply decide marriage is not for them. In these situations the contract rules apply unless a supplier is able to resell the date in which case they may choose to refund part or all of the cancellation fee/deposit. However that is their decision and not a right. Some couples also have to cancel for other personal reasons; illness in the family, a change in their circumstances, a move to another country. All these things too are specific to the couple and therefore the supplier contract would need to be adhered to. And because these things happen, many couples take out wedding insurance which covers cancellation, means suppliers are paid and the couple are not left out of pocket.
The pandemic of 2020 has created another reason for cancellation – the inability to actually go ahead with a wedding date. Since the ban on weddings was brought in when lockdown began on 23rd March 2020, weddings for that year were all set to go, many suppliers had bought new stock, got full diaries and busy weekends ahead. Couples had their hen and stag dos planned, even nail appointments – the fine details were all in place. And then the ban came.
The advice from the CMA and government initially was to postpone, which is what many couples did, but most wedding contracts did not have a clause for postponement in their contract and therefore in truth the postponements were legally a cancellation and rebooking. This meant that in many instances couples who had signed a contract regarding cancellation could be asked to pay a second booking fee or a cancellation charge.
The legal definition varies from country to country and in fact it is not used as a legal term in the UK, however the meaning is generally understood in the following context:
Force majeure events are usually defined as certain acts, events or circumstances beyond the control of the parties, for example, natural disasters or the outbreak of hostilities.
In fact many of the wedding contracts that were scheduled to provide for events between 23.3.2020 and 14.8.2020 were in fact frustrated. The definition of which is below:
If a contract is frustrated, it is automatically discharged at the time of frustration. This means that the parties to the contract do not need to perform any future contractual obligations. In addition, parties to the contract cannot claim damages for non-performance of these future obligations.
In order to determine whether or not your contract is frustrated you will need to look at when you made the decision to change your date. The lockdown came in waves of 3 weeks and so if your date was not in the lockdown when you requested to postpone (i.e. cancel and rebook) then your contract was not frustrated. Sadly the lack of clarity as to when weddings could go ahead meant many couples and suppliers not really knowing what was best. To make it worse, ceremonies were reintroduced back in July but receptions from 1st August which was later revised to the 15th August.
Moving forward should the UK go into another full lockdown, if you choose not to postpone your event and the wedding could not legally go ahead, your contract would be deemed frustrated.
The final aspect of the ‘force majeure’ and frustrated discussion is that it will vary according to what is being supplied. For example, if you are still going ahead with a smaller wedding you will be able to and indeed should continue to employ those suppliers that can legally work for you:and have been contracted for your event. Where a wedding is still taking place the contract is not frustrated. So if you have booked a photographer, cake maker, caterer, tent or venue, even cars the best advice is to work with those suppliers to vary your contract to suit the smaller celebration.
Fortunately, most couples and suppliers managed to reschedule or vary their contracts early enough by mutual agreement, which while somewhat disappointing, removed some of the anxiety for all parties.
Therefore most suppliers in the wedding industry, retain part of the price in the event of cancellation by a client. There has been much discussion about what is fair or unfair to charge as a cancellation fee, and some will quote ‘unfair terms’ regarding the need to pay a cancellation fee. However as referred to earlier, the nature of the wedding industry is such that bookings for related goods and services are taken a considerable time in advance and operators would simply be unable to run their businesses if bookings could be cancelled at a later date without assuring some income for the business given the slim chances of being able to secure a late booking in each case. It is testament to the reasonableness of provisions of this nature that clients historically agree to pay on this basis, both for us and other providers of goods and services in the wedding industry.
The cost of cancellation fees however, will massively vary from one supplier to another. A hairdresser with whom you have a hair appointment will be quite likely to resell that appointment, even at short notice, so will probably not expect a large cancellation fee. A photographer who works from home will probably need to cover their admin costs, but the closer to the date your cancellation is, the higher that fee might be as it is increasingly unlikely they will get work for the date they have been cancelled. A venue however will need to cover many more overheads – the costs that enable your venue to exist through the year and so be available for all the events they book. So their cancellation fee will almost certainly be calculated as percentage of the overall contract rather than a simple loss of booking fee. In real terms this is usually between 25% and 100% depending how close to your event date you cancel. You must look carefully at the Terms and Conditions for each supplier at the time of booking and before you sign any contracts. It is also our advice that you take out wedding insurance with a reputable company as soon as you book your first supplier so that should you need to cancel you will be covered.