Arabian Tents - What we learnt about 2020 Weddings and Events

What we learnt in 2020 about wedding planning and organising events…

A reflection of what happened in 2020...

Noone could have anticipated what happened to us in 2020. In March I was in the middle of planning for 'Roaring 20's Parties' and our busiest season ever with interesting enquiries coming from abroad as well as the UK.

However, none of that was to be, and I arrived back mid-March from a festival in Cape Town straight into lock-down and over the coming weeks all our confirmed wedding and events were postponed, our travel plans cancelled, our ability to meet, share and commune, halted.

Instead, 2020 has brought our attention inward on ourselves, and our life choices… the environment and people we surround ourselves with and what we do with our time and attention.

Without the usual bustle of work and parties I’ve spent a lot more time appreciating my children (my 5 year old has admitted he likes lock-down as he gets to spend more time with his Mum! awww) and for once I have not been living in the future...planning, planning, planning.  Our inability to make plans has forced me into the present.  I have cultivated new friendships that have blossomed with the time I’ve had free to give to them, clapped my thanks every Thursday and felt the warm feeling of community, re-kindled my violin playing and started a band(!). Having time to reflect not rush has meant I have evaluated what I want from 2021 and beyond – putting in place some big-thinking forward-planning.

How we pivoted in 2020...

When people were allowed to meet again, there was a huge appetite to do so!  And June was an enjoyable month spent putting up small tents for birthday parties, intimate garden parties, bijou weddings and something new which has been very interesting indeed – putting up tents to create long-term spaces for hospitality businesses so they could become covid safe and continue trading.

I love this, as have always viewed tents as ‘rooms’ and now the rest of us see them like that too!

We thought in July when most of them went up that this would be a 3 month thing.  Most of them still have our tents up now, and are intending to continue until March 2021.  One of these businesses is Tom Kerridge’s flagship pub ‘Hand and Flowers’ restaurant in Marlow which was featured on his TV show explaining how vital his ‘Garden Room’ is for creating extra space and guest flow to allow the full Michelin stared experience to continue.  His wife enjoyed concepting the interior design for the space, after we started them off with our William Morris interior with the addition of hessian drapes and foliage fairy lights for the space.

Photos: Jessica Milberg Photography

What events we worked on...

I really enjoyed working on all the events we created this year because I got to see every one through from start to finish.  It has been years since I’ve been able to put up and take down every tent we set up in a season - I love the authenticity of it.

However, three of the very special ones that stick in my mind were an intimate 50th birthday party for a lovely new client in August which I enjoyed because they were very particular about details (which I love the challenge of,) and wanted to take their guests on a journey utilising their beautiful garden, so it was very enjoyable designing what that would look like - working out what lighting to use, where furniture and tents should be positioned and had the satisfaction of utilising some lanterns which I’d had for years which had just the right look so added hooks to hang from crooks and create a long lantern walkway to lead guests to a tent we made a bespoke lining for – for their magician – lets face it, having a magician with their own tent is pretty amazing in itself!

Photo by Whitney Lloyd Photography

Another highligh was a wedding that was due to happen in a big tent at a Stately Home in the summer but was postponed until September and hosted in a series of smaller tents in the Bride’s father’s garden.

The couple got in just before the limit decreased so were able to have 30 guests, and again, it was so enjoyable completely re-designing the environment for them, to be intimate, pretty and fun, and they were such a pleasure to work with, that it left me with a feeling that I’d just set up tents for best friends from school to have the most almighty triumph of a wedding in, despite all the odds.


Photos by Seth Carnill Photography

And lastly another wedding that gave me that warm fuzzy feeling inside was with a lovely family who I’d built up a close relationship with over the past year and a half of planning time.

They had a big wedding planned in April which had a very involved, bespoke design, which then moved to October initially, but we realised in the summer this was going to have to be down-sized for the wedding with the larger celebration next year, so we worked together to slim down to fit the guidelines, but keeping the original look and feel they had visioned for the wedding, and helping, advising, being a sounding board and working together with them during that period, ensuring we create the best experience possible, was hugely satisfying and we still have the larger celebration for the extended guest list to look forward to.

How 2020 might of changed the face of weddings...

Before the pandemic it was always assumed you were going to have a big, magical, fairytale wedding however as Covid gradually prevented that, couples have re-evaluated their celebrations, realising that no matter what size, they can still be very special.

I love the idea that people are tearing up the wedding rule-book, and deciding how they want to mark their forever-together.  Having a small wedding for your closest friends and family seems like a great way of taking the stress out of the day, with the added possibility of being able to have quality over quantity with a smaller space to decorate and less mouths to feed… having your dream suppliers’ involved in creating your small, perfectly formed, high-quality wedding.

Our 6m x 6m Mini Pearl tent is ideal as a chic space for a wedding breakfast for 20 guests;

And the Frame Tent collection with their interior-designed linings are ideally suited in size too measuring 6m x 6m or 6m x 9m which could accommodate a dance floor and bar area too.

The Cornish Cream is a beautiful option for those looking to host a small wedding celebration;

What a lot of couples are opting to do is have a small actual wedding and then have a larger ‘wedding party’ afterwards, which can be as fun and informal as the couple wish it to be.

What we are looking forward to in 2021...

I’m excited about 2021 and the prospect of un-masking and re-connecting with friends.  But also carrying over what I’ve learned in 2020 – especially remembering that today is the tomorrow that I dreamed about yesterday, and making sure I’m ‘in the moment’ as much as possible.

Everyone who knows me knows I love parties and believe in their power to create connections and memories that enhance lives lastingly.

As I had a significant birthday in 2020 that wasn’t able to be celebrated, I’ll be organising that when we’re permitted to gather en-mass again.

Some people will be itching to do the same and others will find this prospect of re-connecting slightly daunting, so we’ll be publishing some blogs about how to safely reconnect with friends and family as things open up again.  Already some festivals have been in touch confirming their 2021 events, which is a positive sign for the industry, and having enjoyed getting back to the grass roots of setting up tents in 2020, we’ll be down-sizing the number of events we take on in 2021 to enable me to spend more time onsite doing just that.

Get in contact...

If you would like to speak to one of our team about an upcoming event or wedding then please drop an email HERE