How one rental company owner made his daughter’s dream wedding come true.
By Chuck Hobart
Unless you’ve fathered a daughter, there’s no explaining the mesmerizing power they have over you. My daughter’s desire for an outdoor wedding reception in December inspired a whirlwind of activity that provided me with the unique opportunity to experience a special event from both perspectives: that of the client and of the rental owner. I gained a new understanding of client anxiety and a new appreciation for the importance of having the right people and equipment to do the job.
I can’t publish all the thoughts that flashed through my mind after I got a visit requesting my daughter’s hand in marriage. She had talked about a December wedding since she was eight years old, so the date they set was no surprise. The surprise was that she wanted the reception in our backyard!
Having worked with tents for many years, I know that certain things work and certain things don’t. Tents in December on grass tend to be grouped with the latter observations. We had done some tents with portable flooring and some with staging, but nothing as ambitious as we had planned.
When your daughter is getting married, it’s very easy to get side-tracked by all the emotions. Couple that with a “let’s-pull-out-all-the-stops” mentality, and you can have a lethal combination. When reality sets in, you begin to wonder just how you’ll pull off all the promises you made in the initial burst of euphoria.
Thankfully it was still only March, so I had some time. I armed myself with as many back issues of InTents and other publications as possible, including the usual wedding magazines. And if this wasn’t enough, I was given two versions of the movie Father of the Bride. Both Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin gave me plenty to think about!
Armed with knowledge, I was determined not to let this event get too far out of hand. My primary worry—finding a reasonable sub-flooring solution—caused me sleepless nights. Would I use staging? Lumber? Compacted dirt? Indebted contractors?
During my 27 years in the rental business, I have developed a cautious nature: If something bad could happen, it will happen to me. But luckily I had nothing to worry about.
During the 10-day setup period, we constructed 17 tents with both solid and clear tops, totaling 11,200 square feet. Beneath the three high-traffic areas—the main tent, dance area and bar tent—we used 8,200 square feet of Strata flooring by Wenger Corp.: 3,200 square feet of our new inventory plus 5,000 square feet sub-rented from Chattanooga Tent Company. The low traffic areas—the restrooms, cooking and preparation areas, walkways and band stage area—totaled 2,640 square feet and were built using our Bil-Jax inventory. I purchased new inventory for this event, including tents from Anchor and Armbruster, tent liners from Baytex, linens from Jomar and tables from Palmer Snyder. All the companies we worked with were very helpful and responsive.
We laid approximately 1,000 yards of 50-ounce carpet for the event, and the winter-themed decorations included full-size Christmas trees, suspended snowflakes and four scent-making machines. Other elements essential to the success of this event included a keen sense of humor, a vivid imagination and terrific friends.
The theme for my daughter’s wedding was A Winter Wonderland, and “wonder” had many meanings for me. It began with my own anxious wondering about finding all the right elements. Later it became the wondering of multiple neighbors and passers-by, who stopped to ask about our massive construction project. Word-of-mouth news spread quickly and numerous prospective clients, including several brides-to-be, called us for more information. We even made the local TV news!
Finally, it was the wonder and delight expressed by the happy couple and more than 650 guests in attendance. We received numerous compliments—everyone was truly amazed.
At the end of the night, our daughter and new son-in-law were seated in the back of the limousine, about to ride away from the evening, when they called for my wife and me to thank us for a dream wedding and reception. I will never forget that moment or the words exchanged as I hugged her goodbye, for they were indeed priceless!
I truly feel like I was part of a Hollywood blockbuster. I was riding off into the sunset, decked out in tuxedo and tails, holding my champagne glass high and tipping my hat with gratitude to all who helped make me a hero in my little girl’s eyes. Thanks to Bill Beck and Wenger, The Pantry Catering of Greenville and our own crew at Taylor Rental Center.
And like many of Hollywood’s cinematic successes, this epic production will likely spawn a sequel. You see, I’ve been blessed with two daughters. And I’ll bet you can guess what kind of wedding and reception my youngest daughter now wants to have!