If you’re recently engaged and embarking on planning your wedding, then huge congratulations to you! What a fabulous time in life and what a plethora of amazing adventures there are in store as you design and plan your day. We love the romance and beauty of a wedding here at Bespoke HQ, yet we’re highly experienced pragmatists and logistics specialists and we know that unique weddings don’t come without a gargantuan effort and careful planning. This is even truer when you’re hosting in a marquee and essentially building your venue from the ground up.
That’s why we have worked with our friends at Marquees & Pavilions to share key tips on successfully planning your wedding marquee. So grab yourself a coffee and read our Part 1 here…
Stand-Out Top Tip
Communication and planning are essential for a successful marquee event. For example, can you clearly communicate your brief and, in return, can the contractor interpret your requirements and clearly communicate their recommendations? With clear communication, you should be able to quickly establish not only the exciting possibilities but also the costs and limitations when organising a marquee event.
I will now briefly run through some of the common areas which require thought and planning for a successful marquee event.
The marquee site.
One of the big advantages of having a marquee as your reception venue is that you can choose your site. This may be a personal space, such as your home garden or a special and unique venue, such as a National Trust property. Whatever the venue, you will need to consider the practicalities of having a marquee event. Whilst almost anything is possible, as a general guide, the more challenging and complex the site, the more time consuming and expensive.
Things to consider:
- Is the site level? If not, an additional sub-floor may be required.
- Is the site grass or hard standing? If ground stakes cannot be used then weights may be required to secure the structure.
- Are there any underground services? Consider the safety of the installation team and any disruption to the mains supply from driving a ground stake through a buried utility.
- Does the venue impose any time restrictions for set-up & de-rig?
- Is there vehicle access? Any width restrictions or parking permits required?
- Is there sufficient parking for guests or other contractors present on the day (i.e. catering staff, musicians)
- Vehicle trackway may be required where soft ground conditions impede access to the site.
Type of marquee.
There are a number of options. Some of the difference is subjective, therefore it is about finding out what works for you. Traditional marquees, Stretch tents or Capri marquees are typically more attractive shapes. However, due to their internal poles and guy ropes the interior space can be compromised. Frame marquees with their aluminium clear span construction, do not have any internal poles or guy ropes, can be easily joined to buildings and are robust enough to cope with cold, wet and windy weather.
You may also find that practical restrictions, due to the site, affect your decision. For instance, where the site is hard standing (and the structure cannot be secured using ground stakes) a frame marquee may be more appropriate.
*Disclaimer: M&P only supply frame marquees and pavilions.
Choosing the right marquee company.
When choosing any contractor it is important to select an individual or company with whom you can establish a good working relationship and you trust to deliver the product or service.
Some specific things to consider when choosing a marquee company:
- Do they offer the product or service you require? (i.e. type of marquee)
- Do they provide clear quotations, working drawings and conduct a site survey?
- Do they have sufficient public and products liability?
- Are they members of a trade association, such as MUTA?
- They should be aware of and comply with the CDM Regulations 
- Do they have working relationships with your other contractors?
- Can they provide recent references?
How big does the marquee need to be?
Once you have appointed a marquee company they should be able to provide guidance as to how much space you require. Every event is different but as a general guide you should allow up to 1sqm per person for a standing reception then, depending on your brief, additional space for dining, dancing, catering, etc.
With a frame marquee, you have the choice of one big, open-plan space or the creation of separate areas to create interest and excitement. This is commonly used for the dance floor which can be revealed at a later stage in the evening. You may prefer to group the dance floor and bar area or keep them separate, but remember, if the space is too big you may lose atmosphere and intimacy.
Marquee events in the winter may require additional space so that heated areas can be created for loo’s and cloakrooms inside the structure(s).
We hope you’re finding the tips helpful thus far. There’s much more we’re keen to share.
Next time: we’ll be talking about Infrastructure (such as power) and Interiors/Furnishings, making your marquee really stand out and how best to tackle these elements successfully. .
As wedding planners since 2003, we’ve planned many marquee events in a range of structures and terrains and are very experienced at helping clients work smoothly and quickly through the whole process of finding the right marquee structure and company in terms of look, features, size, scale and matching it to the budget available, not to mention coming up with creative designs for the interiors. If you are at the start of your marquee creation project and think you’d like a professional by your side, then do get in touch for a no-obligation chat.
Diary date: come and hear Kelly talk all things marquee planning at the next instalment of the interactive and fun filled Wedding Inspiration taking place at Waddesdon Manor on Sunday 5th March from 10-3pm. Full details here including how to register for your free place and guaranteed bag of goodies.
In the meantime, happy planning!
All images represent marquee builds by Marquees and Pavilions with the exception of the Tipi Tent image and the Stretch Tent shown here to illustrate alternative structures also co-ordinated by The Bespoke Wedding Company.
 For the live events sector, the regulations mean that all events with structures must have a client who appoints both a principal designer and principal contractor to ensure that health and safety is planned into a project from the start and that health and safety is properly managed on-site.