Weddings in India are typically filled with customs and rituals, beauty and elegance, and the importance of family—and the Indian wedding that took place at Castleton Farms in Loudon, Tenn., last May, was no exception. Knoxville, Tenn.-based All Occasions Party Rentals (AOPR) provided tent and event services for the wedding, reception and events the week before—for which the rental, design and decor budget alone exceeded $110,000. “Although we do many Indian weddings, this was the largest one we’ve done,” says Terry Turner, C.E.R.P., president of AOPR. “Indian people are ardent lovers of beauty and elegance, which was reflected in all the couple’s special requests for wedding decor, design and ceremonies.”
Before the vows
Celebrations began with a series of family meals the week before the ceremony, prepared and served at the private residence of the bride’s family. AOPR installed a 20-by-40-foot frame tent with 7-by-20-foot cathedral sides for the cooking and preparations of those meals, as well as providing chairs, tables, portable toilets and a small refrigerated trailer.
AOPR erected a 60-by-60-foot tent with 8-by-20-foot sides at the Hindu Center’s temple for important religious ceremonies leading up to the wedding. Ceremonies included the Sangeet party—a lighthearted pre-wedding celebration typically featuring songs and in-law jokes; the Pithi ceremony—a ritual performed to bring the couple good luck; the Ganesh Puja—a prayer ceremony to the Lord Ganesh; and the Graha Shanti—a ceremony that kicks off religious and social customs on the day before the wedding.
The final pre-wedding event was the Mehndi ceremony, during which the bride-to-be adorns her hands and feet with intricate henna designs, while friends entertain her with songs and dances. For this bride’s Mehndi ceremony, AOPR installed a 15-by-15-foot white Express tent with cathedral sides at the Reserve at Bluebird Hill in Lenoir City, Tenn.
The main event
The wedding day took place at the Castleton Farms property, beginning with a breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Manor House. Two tents provided shelter for the 9 a.m. ceremony: a 50-by-105-foot clear gable Future Trac tent with the ends left out, with three of the center top sections clear, and a 20-by-20-foot one-piece frame tent. AOPR also installed a “popcorn tent” for the guests.
Following the ceremony, guests moved to the Carriage House and lawn where lunch was served beneath three frame tents (30-by-45, 20-by-30 and 20-by-50).
Cocktails served in a tent in the vineyard began the evening festivities, while the AOPR crew transformed the popcorn tent into a pizza tent, and the ceremony tent into a dance tent. They removed 600 chairs and installed lounge furniture, table and chair arrangements, eight bars and a large dance floor.
Behind the scenes
Installing tents and rental equipment at multiple locations for multiple events was an exercise in logistics for the AOPR crew. “We put in very long hours,” Turner says. “Castleton Farms is located 25 miles from AOPR and that distance requires planning and accuracy. This epic wedding was one of 94 other orders that we were delivering and setting up the same week.”
Torrential rains were predicted for the week of set-up and for the days of the event so AOPR implemented a rain plan and requested additional sides for tents. However, the weather was not as bad as predicted and the crew was able to complete installation prior to the rainfall. After the rain cleared, they removed the additional sides. Because of the property’s irrigation system AOPR weighted the tents with concrete ballast instead of staking.
The week of pre-wedding rituals and wedding celebrations was a success and AOPR’s part in it exceeded the family’s expectations. “Executing an event of this magnitude is very time consuming for all involved,” Turner says. “It brought notoriety to our company and it also further exposed us to the Indian culture and rituals.”