Canvas just got chic

If you want a venue that’s as unique as the rest of your wedding, you’ve got to go for a marquee, says super-stylist Lindsey Hunter

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A marquee from Queensberry Marquees (queensberrymarquees.com) is given a summer-fête look complete with reams of bunting and flowers in jam jars. (image by www.simonsstudio.co.uk)

Lots of couples choose a theme or a colour scheme for their wedding, tying in the bridesmaid dresses to the flowers, say, or matching the groomsmen’s kilts. But how do you put it all together when styling your wedding reception? Each venue is different, and if you’ve gone for a marquee, decorating it can be quite a challenge.
Part of the reason for this is that a marquee can look empty and a bit flat until the tables are laid, flowers and props are perfectly placed, the candles are lit and everyone is present in their finery. We sat down with wedding planner and stylist extraordinaire Lindsey Hunter of Get Knotted (get-knotted.net), and asked her to share her top tips for turning a marquee blank canvas into a chic, romantic venue.
Make a timeline of everything that has to be done after the marquee is erected so you won’t have a last-minute panic trying to get everything sorted. Allow enough time to make changes if you need to.
Most marquees are white and need breaking up with colour and texture. Make up a Pinterest board at the start of your wedding planning to collate all your ideas. It is a great way to show your florist, dress shop and bridesmaids what you want so they can understand and help to put it together with you.
As marquees can be quite high, think about creating height and drama with table decorations to give the illusion of a lower ceiling. Combine high and low table arrangements to add interest to your tables.
Some marquees come with a floor, some don’t. Depending on the time of year, a grass floor can help to add texture. However, adding a carpet will not only add colour, it will also add a touch of luxury to your reception.
Lighting is really important. Most marquees provide uplighters, but adding your own lighting is key to creating the atmosphere you desire. Fairylights can add some romance when placed over a dancefloor or when added to the whole ceiling, creating a delicate twinkle.

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Looking like they’ve come straight out of a stylish wedding in the Hamptons, Sperry tents feature sweeping sailcloth canopies and are available for hire exclusively in the UK via PapaKåta (papakata.co.uk). Go to town with this look by incorporating wicker furniture, exposed wood and plenty of fresh green foliage.

Adding candlelight will enhance the ambience. Floating candles in simple vases of different heights and tea lights dotted around can be a cost-effective option for dressing dining tables. Placing unusual centrepieces on tables will create definition and will be a talking point for your guests.
You can decorate the ceiling too. Try ceiling circles (available on get-knotted.net) made of driftwood and willow decorated with large colourful flowers such as hydrangeas, finished with greenery and lots of fairylights. For something unique, create unusual, rustic candelabras to be suspended at different heights from a marquee ceiling.
If you’re having a band, think about what sort of backdrop would look good behind the musicians. Fairylights running vertically down the walls look great, or you could try putting together a quirky backdrop made from driftwood and other recycled items interwoven with fairylights.
Lighting flares outside the entrance to your marquee will create a special warmth as guests depart. Lanterns will define pathways from your marquee to other buildings or car parks. If you want softer lighting outside while your guests enjoy some fresh air, place tea lights in jam jars and hang these from tree branches.
Adding a chillout area is a great way to put your own stamp on the styling. Contemporary sofas and chairs illuminated with tiny lights can look great. For a vintage look, select some mismatched furniture from local auctions. These can be sold afterwards.

Decorate the ceiling with circles of willow and driftwood, accessorised with large colourful flowers and lots of fairylights

Personalise your bar area by customising it with your wedding colours and stamp your names and the date on the bar to really make it your own.
If chair covers aren’t your thing; hire some plain white chairs and customise them with ribbons, cushions or bunting to match your wedding theme.
Your marquee will look amazing and be a memorable part of an unforgettable day.

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A bare wooden floor, fabric drapes and simple white folding chairs create a very rustic look, Get Knotted.

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Outdoor lighting can be just as important as that inside the marquee. In this case, Lindsey at Get Knotted has alternated flower-filled pots with ribbon-tied jars of tea lights and attached them to a tree outside the marquee.

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One of Get Knotted’s previous projects, this overhanging circle of fresh flowers makes a huge visual impact and breaks up the swathe of white that forms the marquee’s canopy.

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Make the scenery the backdrop to your vows with a clear-ended marquee. This one is by Olympus Marquees (olympusmarquees.co.uk). Photo: sheilascottphotography.com

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The decor in this Finesse Marquees one has been inspired by Moroccan souks (finessemarquees.co.uk). Photo: mirrorboxphotography.com

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North of Scotland Marquees brings a space to life with washes of colour on the walls and yellow flowers (northofscotlandmarquees.com).