I LOVE a marquee wedding. Why? Because they can be put almost anywhere, be styled infinite ways, and most importantly take advantage of the great outdoors. If it wasn’t obvious I love being outside!
Many people start planning a marquee wedding thinking it’s a budget friendly DIY option, especially if they have access to land without a venue charge. They can be but they can often work out more expensive than people think because they forget how many factors are involved.
Marquees can offer the ultimate blank canvas for couples. If not worried about having a legal ceremony at the reception then a marquee gives more location freedom then any other venue type. Marquee weddings although potentially being a budget friendly option do not mean they are cheap or lacking style, personality or substance. In fact the opposite with marquee weddings offering the ability to be luxurious, personal and exquisitely stylish.
Things to consider when choosing a marquee wedding
First and foremost you need to choose the location. Are you choosing an existing venue or using land not normally used as a wedding venue? This can include home venues, be it your own, a parent’s or friend’s.
Existing locations will normally have advantages of having facilities in place, reduced marquee costs especially if a semi permanent structure kept up for the entire wedding season. There are also likely in-house planning and catering to offer a more complete service. It can give you the options of venues you love that without a marquee couldn’t accommodate your number of guests. The disadvantages will be limited tent type, location and styling options, and of course higher venue fees.
If a non existing venue you should consider the following:
- Is the land suitable for a marquee? Level enough, large enough, dry enough?
- Is the surrounding area safe? Water/river side can be gorgeous but might not be the safest especially if small children in attendance.
- What is the land used for normally? If a farm is it grazing land? Will it be prepared before by the land owner? You don’t want cow pats everywhere!
- Is there suitable access for marquee delivery vehicles? Can the land cope with multiple larger, heavier vehicles.
- Is there running water and electricity?
- Are there on site toilets? Are there enough for the guest numbers? If not can you get some delivered for the wedding? If you get Portaloos, get nice ones if you can. Grandma won’t want to use a festival style portaloo!
- Can the location accommodate a marquee suitable for planned guest numbers?
- What parking is available? Is it on hard standing or grass? If grass you may need a tractor on standby (with a sober driver!) to tow vehicles in and out. If parking is limited (home venues especially) you may want to designate a parking attendant or two.
- Do you want accommodation in the form of camping as well? Is there space and facilities?
Once you’ve decided on having a marquee wedding you then have to choose what type! The main options are;
Just like at a country fete! Only suitable to be erected on grass. Wooden central supporting poles and essentially one big tent! For catering you would need an additional marquee or space for food prep. Often lined to hide the solid plastic side panels. Panels can be hard to remove/keep open in warm weather.
Like a traditional marquee but with a more modern sleeker look. Normally have clear panels on all sides removing need for lining. The name comes from the fabric which is normally genuine sail cloth.
Another similar to the traditional marquee. But gone are the plastic sides replaced with patterned fabric and fabulous linings. A bold statement choice
These are by far the most common for weddings and provide the ultimate blank canvas. Metal frame that can have separate areas within main ‘tent’. Easy to bolt on additional annexes for catering or for individual parts of the wedding reception. Different exterior options including clear panels including roof a’la Pippa Middleton. Can be erected pretty much anyway (not limited to just grass) and suitable for use all year round.
Wooden poles (at jaunty angles!) with a rounded shape and a thicker canvas than a traditional marquee. Can be zoned/enlarged by joining multiple together. Can be dark but great atmosphere. Lose some useable area due to sloping ceilings. Likely not suitable for compact venues with larger guest lists for this reason. Great for those with a boho theme.
A modern version of a tipi. Various upright wooden poles with canvas spread across. Great for summer as can use without any side panels for ventilation. Very adaptable according to location and weather.
Built with an amazing delicate looking wooden structure they are stunning but more complex option. Far away from your country fete and a real ultimate marquee feel. A very distinct style that may or may not suit your wedding style.
Think the crystal maze dome or the Eden project. Very modern, cool and adaptable by joining together multiple domes. Quite specialist and not the biggest normally so suit more intimate weddings.
As mentioned above you need to consider space, utilities, toilets and parking when choosing your venue.
Other things to consider are;
- Flooring – are you going to put down an alternative floor or just have grass? Not just inside but also out. Pathways if wet?
- Lighting – not just inside the marquee but in the outside areas. Can guests safely navigate back to the parking?
- Weather – is the site and marquee suitable for both heat and rain? A June wedding in England could be 30 degrees and sunny, or equally 15 degrees and soaking wet? Is there suitable ventilation if hot? If wet is there sufficient space inside for everything? Is there heating if cold?
Other considerations for marquee weddings
Along with the above other considerations when planning a marquee wedding are;
- The neighbours! Are there close neighbours? Not just human but also animal? Be nice to them whomever they are! Marquee weddings at temporary sites will often span a week. Putting up and taking down time. That’s a lot of vehicles, noise and disruption.
- If DIYing, are you having a wedding planner, are you having venue dressers? No? Well there will be a LOT to do and so you will need a team of helpers prepared to do all sorts of jobs the week surrounding the event.
- Where will the waste go? Who is going to clear up afterwards? If farm land you may need to organise a tidy up party afterwards to sweep the land for any glass or rubbish that could injure any animals on the land.
- Damage to the land. If it is wet there is potential for mud, lots of mud. It wouldn’t be unheard of for land to be badly damaged. Can you cope with your lawn being trashed? If on farm land will the farmer charge you for damage?
- Security. There will be lots of expensive equipment on site for up to a week. There may be a need for additional security on site during that time.
- Catering. Make sure you communicate with your caterers to ensure they have the right space and equipment in place to cater your marquee wedding.
- Will you need a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) from your local council?