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Planning helps tent company overcome site challenges

Project Briefs | December 1, 2007 | By:

Realistic thinking helps Après Party & Tent Rental to overcome site challenges for a 2008 wedding.

Last spring, Minneapolis-based Après Party & Tent Rental had a large tented wedding on its books for June. The clients had figured out the tent sizes they needed, the details were being finalized and the invitations were ready to go out. But on March 30, a terrible accident left the groom with a severe, traumatic brain injury. A few weeks later, Lynn Oehler, the bride’s mother, put in a call to Jim Bach and Michael Feldbaum at Après to let them know that the family would need to cancel the wedding. Thankfully, the groom’s prognosis was hopeful, and the family set a new date for June 2008.

“Everybody was great,” Oehler says of the wedding vendors. “They said, ‘Don’t worry, just let us know.’” Oehler is helping plan the wedding for her daughter and future son-in-law since they live in Chicago. She came across Après based on the company’s reputation in the Twin Cities. “What we needed to find was a vendor who was willing to take the time to find a creative solution to logistical challenges,” Oehler says.

At the event site, Oehler’s home in Wayzata, such logistical complications are numerous. During the original site survey, Bach says, the team had to reconcile the unusual configuration of space against the expected number of people and the desired look. Part of that planning has been to account for the possibility of rain. If it rains, it will be something of a challenge to keep guests dry as they move through the different event spaces: for their arrival on the property’s winding drive, during the ceremony overlooking the lake, and during the cocktail hour and reception.

The reception is set to take place on the Oehlers’ tennis court, which is enclosed by 75-foot-tall fences. Apres needed a unique solution for the area, so Bach suggested an 80-by-70-foot tent to cover part of the court and surrounding lawn.

With this configuration, however, there’s simply not enough room for an air-conditioning unit. Oehler and Bach have agreed it’s just not possible, so a backup plan is to run several Schaefer tent fans to keep guests cool. The bride also insisted that she didn’t want portable toilets down by the reception tent, so Bach has found a potential spot for a luxury restroom trailer on Oehler’s narrow driveway. And because of the tent’s placement in a sloping landscape, the caterers will have to haul their carts down winding paths.

Bach—and his client—know that the site’s challenges limit what Après will be able to do. For example, Bach says, it’s inevitable that there will be damage to the tennis courts as well as to Oehler’s prized flowers. Over the years, he’s learned that these are necessary sacrifices. “I’ve told her there’s going to be some damage,” Bach says. “I’ve learned to just be up front with the client.” And in the end, the property’s uniqueness will help make this event even more memorable.

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