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Uninvited “guest”: hurricane crashes the party

Project Briefs | June 1, 2012 | By:

Last-minute adjustments save backyard wedding as hurricane approaches.

Every bride dreams of the perfect wedding day. And every tent rental company needs to be prepared for the exact opposite.

This was the situation Tents for Rent LLC of Ephrata, Pa., faced in August 2011, when forecasts predicted that Hurricane Irene would hit during a client’s backyard wedding.

The wedding was a year in the making, plenty of time to plan for the known challenges, including a narrow driveway that needed to be kept open, requiring a constant shuffle of vehicles during the load-in process. Anticipating hot and dry weather typical for the northeast U.S. in August, the client requested generators and air conditioning in addition to flooring and carpet.

Then came news of the uninvited guest: Hurricane Irene. Daryl Sensenig of Tents for Rent says that there were moments when both vendor and client considered postponing the event, but through monitoring the forecast and the hurricane’s approach, Sensenig was convinced that while heavy rain was going to be a challenge, this particular locationwouldn’t experience the high winds that would make the situation unsafe.

“We felt confident saying ‘Yes it will happen.’ It may not be quite an ideal situation, but so much work had been put into it, we decided to continue,” he says.

Rain poured during the entire installation of the 80-by-100-foot and 40-by-100-foot Anchor® tension tents. At the last minute, the client requested an additional 170 feet of marquee walkway so that guests wouldn’t get wet while walking from the valet parking area to the tents. The original plan did not include flooring the cocktail tent, but that became necessary when runoff from the property flowed through the tent, something that wasn’t apparent during site visits that happened on hot, dry days. Tents for Rent employees made a run the night before the wedding from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., to pick up flooring, and installed it the morning of the wedding. Rain continued throughout the day.

“We worked hard to divert the water away from the floor, but some areas still flooded and the flooring of the cocktail tent began to float after the cocktail hour was over,” Sensenig says.

The company’s effort was not lost on the clients, who effused praise when the evening and the hurricane were over. In a letter to vendors, the mother of the bride wrote of many guests who commented that this was the most fun, beautiful and relaxed wedding they had ever attended.

“I am without words,” she wrote. “I cannot get over we pulled this off. Everything was carried out with heroic efforts. Truly, I feel like I was working with the Red Cross! … I cannot thank you enough for the beauty of the evening.”

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