Your marquee checklist

We’ve rounded up the experts to find out everything you ever wanted to know about marquees but just hadn’t got around to asking yet

Greenery and break-out seating enhance this PapaKåta sperry tent space (photo: Allister Freeman)

Be realistic on budget

“It doesn’t matter if you’re spending £100 or £100,000 – there is no point in being unrealistic,” says Clarissa Newall, director of Central Events. The big bonus with hiring a marquee is that you can adapt its size, as Clarissa explains: “You can tailor your marquee to how many guests you have. The fewer the guests, the smaller the marquee, which cuts what you’ll spend on flooring, carpet, tables, chairs and so on.”

Think distance

You’ve thought about how far you and your guests will have to travel to attend your big day, but have you given this much consideration to your suppliers too? “Think about how far away your marquee supplier is from where you plan to tie the knot,” advises Katherine Self of Troon’s Finesse Marquees. “Transport costs can be expensive, so shop local.” 

What’s the layout?

Choosing the spot where your marquee will be pitched isn’t as simple as pointing your finger and saying ‘there’. The trick is to have a flexible approach. “Think about which layout would work best on the site available,” recommends Katherine. “Some established venues have a standard space available, often with several layout options that already work well, while others are totally flexible and give you the option of pitching a marquee in any shape or layout you fancy.” 

Let the sun shine in during the day via clear ceiling panels and the stars will be overhead when night falls, like this Field & Lawn set up

Added extras

Once you’ve got the structure sorted, it’s time to think of how to fill the interior with those important touches. “There are lots of added extras to consider,” warns Katherine. “Don’t forget you may need loos, a power supply and back-of-house areas for caterers, as well as flooring, lighting and interior décor.”

These often fall into ‘I didn’t realise I needed this’ territory, points out Clarissa: “Couples often don’t factor costs such as cutlery, crockery, table linen and glassware into their day.” She has also had to remind couples to think about bathroom facilities. 

Be flexible

When you’re trying to work out which size of marquee to go for, think big first before finalising your numbers, as Clarissa explains: “It relates back to budget and guest numbers. Again, don’t be unrealistic: if you think your guest list is going to be around the 100 mark, cost for 120 so that if/when this comes down, your cost will come down too.” Guest lists often change right up to the last minute, so giving yourself some flexibility here means you can absorb any unscheduled alterations.

Ceiling draping, uplighters and an illuminated dancefloor: it’s all in the details at Finesse Marquees

Consider the pitch

Today’s marquees can be erected almost anywhere, but “something level”, as Katherine puts it, will always give the best results: “The flatter the surface underneath, the better the finish inside will be.” If you’re worried the ground may be a little uneven, let your supplier know. “We have tricks up our sleeve and there are various styles of marquees that are designed to accommodate such problems,” adds Katherine.

And does it matter what you’re pitching it on? Not really, says Clarissa: “Any ground should work fine. Whether it’s grass, tarmac, gravel or decking, you can put a marquee anywhere.” 

Out in the open

There’s always the option to add extra details on the outside of a marquee. “Most suppliers will include entrances and walkways in an initial quote, but this may be subject to a site visit,” explains Katherine.

Clarissa continues: “Everything is additional.” There are many options available, and they won’t all break the bank either, she says: “Walkways and entrance pagodas start from as little as £44.”

The red carpet has been rolled out for this couple by Central Events

Tent temperature

Even if you manage to score a scorching summer’s day, chances are you’ll need a little help with heating your marquee. “Even in the height of summer, it can be chilly in the evening, so it’s a good idea to budget for a heater,” reckons Clarissa.

Heaters have come a long way, so you won’t have to share your day with a rumbling monster in the corner. “Modern heaters are very effective and discreet,” insists Katherine. “By using a thermostatically controlled one, you can ensure your marquee will stay at a good temperature. Turn it up at the start of the night, then turn it down as the dancing gets underway.”

How to cool it

Say you win the weather lottery and your wedding falls on a gloriously hot day. Reassuringly, if you opt to hire your marquee from a professional, they’ll have this all in hand. “To cool a marquee down, we can open up the sides and entrance doors, which will create a through-flow of air. This will allow the space to feel fresh even on the warmest of days,” explains Katherine. Bring on the sunshine!