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A steep grade and a tree require feats of engineering

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One of the most challenging installations Cincinnati-based All Occasions Event Rental ever did started out sounding perfectly simple. Plenty of people have summer weddings in their backyards, after all—it’s nothing unusual. So when Tommy Wilson, the company’s tent division manager, first spoke to the bride-to-be, he wasn’t concerned, even though the tent would have to accommodate 300 guests. “But then we went to conduct the site visit, and we shot grade,” he says. “To install the 40-by-140-foot Losberger clearspan structure over that area, we were going to need a floor that was 8-inches tall on one corner and 15-and-a-half-feet tall on another corner. And then to top it off, there was also a 3-foot-diameter oak tree right in the center of where the tent would be.” It was going to require some engineering, and it was going to be expensive.

Wilson said the bride and her mother hemmed and hawed for a while, considering other alternatives such as putting the party in the front yard. The plan went through several iterations. In the end, it circled back around to the original concept. “This was the home that the bride grew up in,” explains Wilson. “And I think it was extra special to her because her father was deceased, and she felt like her father would be looking down on her there. And the thing about the backyard is that it has this beautiful view of the Ohio River. So it was worth doing.”

For the flooring part of the project, All Occasions partnered with Wurzelbacher Staging Inc., of Hamilton, Ohio. Once the floor was done, Wilson and his crew installed the tent, then finished it with fabric draping, lighting, tables, chairs and a dance floor. Murphy’s Law being what it is, the truck couldn’t be backed up to the site. Everything had to be moved via forklift down a narrow driveway, then boosted up over the edge of the floor deck that was 10 feet in the air.

Then there was the matter of the oak tree. Wilson says his crew had to cut some of the tent tops, then fill in around the tree as tightly as possible to prevent leaks. All told, the project took five days to install and two days to strike.

Despite all the complexities, there were only two minor hiccups. First, an unnerving series of severe thunderstorms came through during the installation. But the tent held. Second, All Occasions had to add extra safety railings to the tent after observing an unforeseen number of small children at the rehearsal dinner. The only extra railings available on short notice were not as attractive as they would have liked, but in the end, the wedding’s aesthetics were all about the site, not the railings. “Once you were up on top of the deck, the view was even more grand because you were that much higher up,” Wilson says. “It was beautiful.”

Based in Georgia, Jamie Swedberg is a freelance writer specializing in the specialty fabrics industry since 1997.

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