The clients’ vision for their daughter’s August 2016 wedding in Esterel, Quebec, Canada, wasn’t a new one. They wanted tents installed in the backyard to accommodate more than 200 guests for the ceremony, cocktails and reception. They wanted the guests to be able to move easily from tent to tent. They wanted room for the caterer to work. They wanted upscale bathroom accommodations. And they didn’t want to have to use one tent for multiple purposes. The problem was that the backyard only had a 30-by-60-foot footprint in which to put a tent—hardly sufficient for what the clients had in mind.
“These weren’t the type of clients who would want to have guests stand while a bunch of people move stuff around to use the same space for different parts of the evening,” says Alexandre Renaud, international sales manager for Montreal-based Fiesta Tents. “We convinced them that the best solution was to cover the infinity pool in the backyard to install the main reception tent and to create a platform on the lake for the tent where the ceremony would take place.”
While installing a platform on a lake isn’t necessarily a technical challenge in terms of execution, in this case it did present some hurdles regarding lake access and controlling wake. “In concept the clients were really excited about the idea because it was unique, it was a ‘wow’ factor, and it solved their space problem,” Renaud says. “But it wasn’t as easy to pull off as one might think. The clients are on a lake that allows wakeboarding and although the platform we installed is in itself very solid and doesn’t move with regular movement of water and wind—it does shift if a boat or wakeboard comes next to it and makes a wake.”
The floating platform consisted of 1½-by-1½-foot square cubes connected similarly to the way Legos are connected. The crew had planned to put in a water barrier using the same platform blocks to break the waves. As it turned out, it rained on the day of the event—and it was on a day that didn’t typically see a lot of water traffic—so the crew didn’t install the barrier after all.
The real challenge for installing the platform came because the crew was initially told to load in the blocks at a municipal boat launch but were met by an inspector who told them they needed to load in at the public boat access. “We had two 45-foot trailers filled with these cubes that we had just emptied onto the beach that we had to reload, drive around the lake and drop at the public launch,” Renaud says. “Keep in mind that the public access is also for people who want to drop in their boats so we had to stop working every 20 minutes or so to let a boat in. It was quite a challenge.”
Double the cooling fun
The main tent was a clear-top tent, which is significantly hotter than a regular tent when the sun is shining. Renaud says the crew typically uses twice the amount of AC to cool a clear-top tent. But because there was no room for an AC unit close to the tents, Fiesta used air chillers to cool the tents instead. “The unit works best when it is closest to the tent because the further the air has to travel through the ducts, the hotter the air gets,” Renaud says. “So we put a water chiller unit the size of a Greyhound bus in front of the house with water tubes running from there to under the tent floor in the backyard, and a chiller under the floor.
To add to the complexity, the only way to make the system work was to pressurize under the floor—to create positive pressure under the floor so the air has nowhere else to go but up, he continues. “So we capped the floor to be airtight.”
The ultimate thank you
The install began three weeks before the event. It was pouring rain the morning of the event, requiring the crew to tent over one portion of the walkway that wasn’t initially covered. “We’d planned for the possibility of rain and had measured everything in advance,” Renaud says.
The result of the crew’s efforts was beyond the clients’ dreams. So much so that the groom asked Renaud to be at the wedding so he could publicly thank Fiesta. “I’ve done a lot of weddings and nobody has ever asked me to be there because they wanted to thank me in their speech,” Renaud says. “It shows how happy they were with the end result.”