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A tented wedding by the sea

Project Briefs | June 1, 2012 | By:

Sea breezes and weathered docks provide the inspiration for a Pacific Northwest destination wedding.

The historic seaside village of Roche Harbor, San Juan Islands, Wash., was voted the number two place to visit in the world by The New York Times in 2011, which meant that for the July destination wedding that took place that same year, working around throngs of tourists to set up and take down the tents provided a challenge, albeit picturesque, for ABC Special Event Rentals by CORT.

“The initial plan for this dual-location event was to use multiple 15-by-30-foot tents for the groom’s dinner at the private waterfront home,” says Phil Heidt, ABC’s district general manager. “But we decided not to use them because the weather was so pleasant and we did not want to obstruct the view of the passing whales.”

The reception portion of the event took place 30 minutes away at the historic Hotel De Haro—both venues situated on an island that can only be reached by ferry. Consequently, most of the logistical challenges had to do with transporting equipment to the island. ABC provided eight Aztec tents of various sizes for guests and support services, the main reception housed in a 50-by-100-foot clear-top gable-ended tent.

The 10-person crew had two days for installation, and since the morning ferry runs are difficult to get large trucks on given the large number of tourists, the crew drove four trucks over the day before setup so they could begin installation first thing in the morning. The reception site did not allow access for a flatbed semi so ABC offloaded 300 yards away and brought pallets of flooring to the site using the hotel’s forklift.

The Hotel De Haro, where the main portion of the event took place, is situated on a marina with sailboats moored to weathered docks, and the client wanted to incorporate that element into the event’s decor. ABC custom made a 10-by-30-foot ramp leading to the 20-by-30-foot entry tent and three sets of stairs, all covered with 1-by-6-inch rough cut boards. To match the weathered look of the docks ABC pre-sprayed the boards with a vinegar, water and rust mixture, and set them in the sun to “weather.” Inside the tent the crew installed 5,000 square feet of hardwood flooring. “Most of the work for this event was in the specialty flooring,” says Heidt.

The main reception tent’s ceiling was covered with white sheer fabric with custom-made chandeliers using sticks and branches from the nearby woods. Clear walls were installed around the front and sides with six sets of double glass doors so the marina and water would be prominent in the decor.

“This event provided us with the opportunity to go all out,” Heidt says. “To this day, Roche Harbor has never seen an event of this magnitude.”

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