Our wedding tent is sixty by sixty. It’s huge. It totally kicked our ass yesterday. With only three days before the wedding and an thunderstorm predicted for Thursday, Wednesday became the day to put up the tent and move tables.
It would have been a thirty minute sitcom with lots of physical comedy, except it took over five hours in real time.
After we managed to sink all twenty-four of the three foot long steel tent pegs we tried to put the side posts up. We’d get one side up and the other side would fall over. We run around to the other side and then the front would fall. This went on for an hour with lots of grunts and a few swear words (okay, more than a few).
We gave up on the sides and decided to put up the centre pole. This was much harder considering we didn’t know what we were doing.
There was five of us in the middle of the tent trying to get the massive centre pole up. We struggled against the weight of the tent and the sides we’d already tied down. We tried brute strength, but we were no match for the tent.
Huffing and puffing we were getting frustrated and a little snappy with each other when Brent’s dad had the idea that if we take the tension off the sides perhaps we might stand a chance of getting the centre pole up. Hmm… sounded good, but we still were not strong enough to lift the weight of the tent.
My dad offered advice based on watching circus tents go up on TV. It seemed they put the poles in and then pulled them up from the outside. It was worth a shot. We’d be at it nearly three and a half hours, so it was really time for some progress.
We untied all the sides facing the lake and sent Brent and Chuck to man the pole under the now collapsed tent. I don’t know how they could breath. With the rest of us on the outside pulling like mad towards the lake the pole began to rise.
Our excitement fueled our muscles and we pulled harder and the post rose a little more. With a cheer from inside and outside, we pulled. Our feet dug into the sand and our backs and arms screamed as we pulled with all our might.
Once we got it going the centre pole reached the magic point and suddenly it was upright. We cheered out loud. Breathing hard, covered in a slick layer of sweat mixed with gritty sand we popped the tops on our beers and congratulated each other.
It didn’t matter that the sides had all fallen down or that we had to reconnect everything – that centre pole was up.
After struggling to move the heavy hardwood picnic tables into place we sat under the tent, cracked another beer and watched the sunset behind the windmills to the west. Billy and Chuck made jokes that they signed up for a wedding and not a construction crew. Dad joked that we’d get his invoice soon.
I think we all felt a little satisfaction that we’d managed to kick the tent’s ass.
Funny side note: My sister Lisa and I got a pedicure this morning and in order to preserve the delicate yellow flower that was glued to my big toe I refused to wear shoes. The tent erection was done in bare feet and moving the picnic tables by loading them onto a trailer manually and driving them onto the beach with the tractor was done in thong sandals.
Several people asked if I was crazy, but I shrugged my shoulders and said it better break my foot without damaging my pedicure. Go big or go home I guess. My feet and toes survived.
I refuse to wear shoes today or until after the wedding. Wish me luck!