August 15 2011
When the wedding season is in full flow, one white marquee after another rolls into view, the ubiquitous addition to the English garden or village green. But it doesn’t have to be the only choice on offer. When my own daughter married this July, the focal point on the lawn was a William Morris tent (second picture) hired from The Arabian Tent Company. In this, the 150th year since the founding of Morris & Co, what could be more appropriate to the rolling Sussex Downs, where our own wedding took place, than Morris’s familiar and beautiful Golden Lily design?
The Arabian Tent Company was founded six years ago by Katherine Hudson, a prolific traveller. “We would not all choose the same wallpaper or curtain fabric for our houses,” she told me, “so I began to wonder why on their wedding day – arguably the most important day of their lives – people ended up with the same white and ruched space.” She launched with four designs, including the Indian-style Raj (first picture) and the burlesque Moulin Rouge tents; now there are eight tent designs to choose from, ranging from the bucolic prettiness of Cornish Cream to the Bollywood spectacular of Bombay Boudoir and Purple Palace (third picture).
As for the tent hired for my daughter’s wedding: it brought a welcome bohemian vibe to the traditional village setting. Furnished with richly patterned, ottoman-style sofas, low wooden coffee tables and a magnificent chandelier, it made the perfect chill-out zone for those wanting to catch up on the gossip away from the hubbub. And, later in the evening, it became a haven for those wedded to their cigarettes.
Hire of the William Morris tent, 9m by 9m, costs £2,160, which includes flooring and lighting; the price does not include furniture hire.