This Month’s Partner in Partying: Marquee Rentals

At All Occasions Catering we are well aware our strength comes from our expansive team, to provide the most full service experience to our clientele. Naturally this often means bringing in outside partners to help round out the details and create a truly turn-key event. This month we invited Sandy Sobczak with Marquee Rentals to share her insight and enthusiasm for the entertaining to come this year.

Sandy, we are very excited to highlight our partnership with Marquee. We know why we love you, but can you identify what sets you apart from other rentals providers?

First and foremost, after 25+ years’ experience in the rental industry, I have learned what matters more than anything is providing our clients with a higher grade Customer Service than they can get with anyone else. We are as hands-on as our clients will allow us to be, and find it important to get to know them to know how best we can be of service. Our site visits aren’t just recommended, they are a complimentary service that we really enjoy. We put in the work so our clients can enjoy the process, too. 

A lot of our clients are looking for ways to stand out among other parties and weddings. What are some unique items you are seeing growing in popularity?

Because of the rise of micro-weddings, long, communal farm tables are growing in popularity, as opposed to a collection of smaller tables. Backyard events with lush table décor, charcuterie boards, and grab-and-go food and drinks with a custom monogram seal, really go the extra mile and create an experience, as opposed to a cookie-cutter look. Marquee Rentals is also the exclusive provider of the Chameleon Chairs, which are incredibly elegant on their own, but can also be dressed up with florals and linens for a look unique to our clients’ taste. They are simply gorgeous!

At AOC, we have been talking a lot lately about creative ways to make a socially distanced event feel more intimate. What sort of changes have you seen as it relates to spacing guests responsibly, while maintaining the desired mood?

We were expecting to support smaller weddings with greater frequency when capacity requirements were put in place, so we got to work with new ideas right away. We brought in smaller bistro tables, and have had a lot of fun mixing them with taller “high boy” tables. It creates a fuller party landscape while maintaining safe distancing. In lieu of photo booths, which are enclosed and an infection control no-no, a great alternative are beautiful flower wall backdrops. Since so many events are held outdoors or in larger indoor spaces, we are seeing very creative use of lighting to showcase trees, pools and fountains, as well as draw attention away from empty corners and unused space. Socially distant weddings can actually be more romantic because of their size, and creating intimacy is a breeze with fewer guests.

You have a wonderfully comprehensive website, and often our clients can feel overwhelmed pairing all of the different elements of a tablescape. Do you have any guidance on where to begin to design a place setting?

Yes, I’m so glad you asked! When designing a table, we often see our clients think too minimally. But the best feedback we receive from guests is when we have used the “more is more” philosophy with a theme that really excites our party host. Maybe it’s going over the top with a color scheme, popping in antiques or any sort of art that appeals to you, tons of florals and trailing greenery. Think of your table as an Instagram backdrop and run wild with it. 

A great place to start is our awesome Design Guide on the Marquee Rentals website. It’s an easy location to build and store a vision board and try different elements together, and it can be referenced by our team to execute the plan. 

So we hear you have launched some new china and flatware packages. Tell us more!

Our inspiration came out of necessity, all due to COVID-19 shutdowns. Our access to new collections just wasn’t there as in previous years, so instead we regrouped from what we had and created much fresher pairings. As creatives, hurdles like this past year really ignited our passion to reinvent and flex those artistic muscles. 

Fortunately we had new items in the warehouse that hadn’t gotten the attention they deserved, and we made greater use of swapping supplies and furnishings with our satellite locations, so that options felt new to us, and to our clients. Along the way we were able to bring in beautiful prosecco goblets, vintage carousel style glassware, and new flatware patterns in rose gold and black tones, among others. Color is an unpredictable element to add to a memorable table, and adds an additional sensory experience to a meal that guests will notice. 

As we move into warmer months, we know we will be partnering with you more on tenting. What sort of advice do you have for selecting the proper size?

Your smartest move is taking us up on a complimentary site check. Our clients don’t always know to account for power lines, tree branches, anything that can impede upon tent set-up. Often we use Google Earth to better survey an area, but nothing is as useful as seeing the space in person. While there, we can better assess what all needs to fit under the tent, and what sort of power sources we can employ to keep the party alive. 

In terms of tent design, we are very excited to launch our new sailcloth option– they are stunning as you approach them, very dramatic in appearance. Clear top tents are in higher demand lately, and they can be quite spectacular with creative lighting or a night sky. Backyard events have come a long way, ranging from charming and quaint all the way up to fancy and formal. 

Outdoor celebrating is in demand these days, but it can sometimes be a battle with the elements. What are your recommendations for maintaining cool temps in the summer, and cozy temps during a chilly evening?

It can certainly be tricky, but we carry a vast inventory of equipment to keep everyone comfortable. Temperature control is an art form during summer months, with air conditioning and fans for day, heaters for cooler evenings. With any outdoor event, there should always be a rain contingency plan. Consider covered walkways or large umbrellas from one structure to another. And we find simply advising guests in advance that the party will take place outdoors results in more appropriate attire, for instance with more sensible shoes, or remembering to bring a sweater when necessary.

Can you think of an event over the past year that stands out as special and fun to execute? 

Last year was a very rough year to work with! But what came with it were really one-of-a-kind backyard weddingsOur hosts scaled down their attendees but maintained their budgets, which meant much more elaborate design ideas. Chandeliers, beautiful up-lighting, and premium food and drink – you can’t help but think there was a silver lining to capacity limits. Some of our best work comes out of challenging circumstances, and we came away very proud of how well we delivered.

Switching gears, is there a common mistake you see with clients you’d like to warn against? For instance too few chairs, under-sizing tables, planning hiccups, etc. 

All of those, for starters. I notice often in the planning session, brides mention they don’t want their guests to sit down, presumably so they keep mingling and dancing. But that sets off alarm bells for us, because at some point your 86 year old grandmother is going to appreciate sitting down. As a host you have to be considerate of each guest’s comfort. Some clients will forgo shade for an outdoor event, and you can imagine the heat, sunburn, and squinting that result. At the very least a set of large patio umbrellas is recommended, if not a more roomy tent. Luckily they are an impressive look in addition to serving such an important function. 

Now, the fun stuff. We love your thorough dance floor options. Is there any advantage of one style over another? How many square feet is recommended per guest? And do you ever lay out some samples for a mid-week in-office dance party?

If there is an employee dance party happening, I definitely want video! Unfortunately office-dancing is forbidden because of Footloose-like restrictions, but luckily our party hosts have a lot more flexibility. The best dance floor for any given event is the one that most appeals to the client, and we have so many cool options. Last year we put a transparent dance floor over a swimming pool, and you can imagine what a large number of wows that generated. Light-up or checkered dance floors with a monogram in the center add a little something special, too. 

For square footage, this is really where a site visit pays off. We can factor in all of the furnishings and equipment and the number of dancing feet you’re expecting, and from there calculate a good sized floor. We take that information and collaborate with our partner vendors on the nitty gritty, and what results is something extraordinary. It’s a shame we can’t stay and celebrate, that’s how much we love the finished product.