A tented wedding installation in the time of COVID-19 confronts a pandemic, hot weather and communication barriers to create an event that makes the happy couple—happy.
by Sigrid Tornquist
Never underestimate the power of a good reputation well-earned—especially when operating an events-based company during a pandemic. When event planner JZM Events, New York, N.Y., was hired to produce an August wedding at Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, Conn., just two hours north of New York City, the company asked the venue staff whom they would recommend to provide tenting. The Mayflower Inn and Spa suggested The Greenwich Tent Co. in Bridgeport, Conn., and JZM wasted no time checking with mutual trusted vendor partners before reaching out to Greenwich Tent to start negotiating an agreement.
“From initial inquiry to event was about two months,” says Greenwich Tent Co. president Zach Wilson. “It took about six weeks to get the contract signed because of numerous revisions due to COVID-19 regulations changing.”
The client’s vision for the event included using the entire property for a three-day celebration, which necessitated multiple tents to provide shade, protect from rain and provide the backdrop for decor. “While there were no budget restrictions, all possible weather and COVID-19 scenarios were accommodated and we had contingency plans in place that included climate controls in each tent,” Wilson says.
From the ground up
Greenwich Tent provided several tent structures for this expansive wedding celebration, including a 46-by-66-foot Sperry Tent for the welcome party and cocktails, a 40-by-60-foot Navi-Trac® for the ceremony, and an 18-by-30-meter Losberger clearspan structure with custom tops by Anchor Industries for the reception. The company also provided a 32-by-52-foot Sperry Tent for prayers and several small tents by Anchor for back-of-house and production purposes.
Under the tent tops, Greenwich Tent installed its proprietary floor system throughout the dining, cocktail and prayer tents, with custom aisles and staging. The team installed a fully leveled subfloor throughout, covered with custom whitewash and chestnut plank floors. The flooring created the perfect earthy yet elegant foundation for the crisp white decor, provided by Emily Pinon, Bastille Flowers & Events, New York, N.Y.
Ready or not
Installation week was hot, approaching 95 degrees, and the crew leaders and project manager provided ice, water, energy drinks and lunch for the crew. With rain in the forecast for the event weekend, the team took precautions to ensure that floors remained dry and clean during load-in. Several rain tents went in within 24 hours of the party, which required a crew on-call to execute.
On Tuesday prior to the event, the team began installation. It was originally scheduled for Monday, but the site was not ready, as the venue was an active construction site. “After being told the site would be leveled, graded and sodded prior to our arrival, we went to flag the site the day before install was scheduled to begin,” Wilson says. “We found that the site was still dirt, not leveled, and there were obstructions within the tent footprint that would need to be cut and removed. Our project manager worked with the construction foreman, planner and hotel general manager to create a plan to get the site ready for install in just 24 hours.”
To ensure a safe installation, the crew leveled the floor underneath the Losberger structure, which was not originally planned, and utilized a number of precautions to make sure that the whitewashed floor would remain pristine during load in up until guests entered the tent. “On top of that, the property roadways were too tight and hilly for tractor trailers or gooseneck trailers, which we usually use to transport the equipment needed,” Wilson says. “We utilized a number of 6K Lulls to load-in and out the AC units, generators, structures, flooring and auxiliary equipment. The cocktail tent—a 2,500-square-foot Sperry with leveled floor up to 6 feet—was inaccessible by any machinery, including using a Tent OX™, so our team hand-carried all equipment to the installation site.”
The main structure and floor were installed in one day and the crew had four days of setup for auxiliary structures. But the rain plan decision for the 40-by-60-foot open-ended Navi-Trac, along with locations for the ceremony aisle and staging, was made the night before the wedding, so the team installed that tent, walkway and stage the morning of the event.
Minor hitch, major success
Much of the event and install went smoothly and as planned. However, the lack of cell phone service was a struggle, as the crew had tents and crews across a large property, and equipment and crew needed to move from one zone to the other. “Cell service at the site was minimal, and our team had to use radios to communicate across property. We also needed to stay in touch with our warehouse, as small change orders were happening,” Wilson says. “We take those things for granted, and we will pay more attention to making sure we create a plan for that in the future.”
Despite the challenges, the client was extremely satisfied. “We have received positive feedback on the quality of tents, installation and our crew since the event,” Wilson says. “And we continue to work with the client and vendors on a regular basis.”
Sigrid Tornquist is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor, and a former InTents editor.
Event planner: Jennifer Miller, JZM Events, New York, N.Y.
Decor/florals: Emily Pinon, Bastille Flowers & Events, New York, N.Y.
Venue: Mayflower Inn and Spa, Washington, Conn.
Lighting/production: Pegasus Productions, Staten Island, N.Y.
Tent, flooring, HVAC, power: Greenwich Tent, Greenwich, Conn.
Music: Krohma Music, New York, N.Y.
Photographer: Brian Marcus, Fred Marcus Studio, New York, N.Y.
Rentals: Luxe Event Rentals, Party Rentals Ltd., New York, N.Y.