The ins and outs of a glorious marquee wedding celebration

marquee wedding celebration

I’m a big fan of the outdoors and many of my clients share this passion and want to incorporate the outdoors in some way to their event, especially if they have beautiful gardens and like the idea of hosting their special event at home. Cue – the marquee wedding celebration.  There is so much to cover and consider when building your own venue and too much to fully detail here but I thought I’d share a speedy checklist to pull out some essentials to help you if you’re considering hosting at home and designing your own marquee wedding celebration setting, whether for a wedding, birthday or another special occasion.

So before you set off designing your very personal blank canvas, here are a few pointers to set you on the right path and help you stay on the right side of sane!

Marquee Wedding Celebration Checklist

Weather back-ups – when considering your marquee, think not only of where you’ll be dining and dancing but where you might need to be for all parts of the event; perhaps there is a ceremony and certainly a drinks reception before seating for dinner.

In an ideal world, you’ll probably want to be outdoors but with large numbers you can’t leave having no cover to chance. Think about simple Capri tents, Chinese hats or stretch tents that can be put up fairly quickly and flexibly to perhaps compliment your larger and more sturdy main marquee. If a day time wedding then you might want to consider laying some temporary artificial grass which is much more affordable than you think and means the photo’s can take place under cover if needed and not be muddy or waterlogged.

Kitchen – if you’re hosting a meal (and most good parties need a great injection of yummy edibles in my view) your caterers will need somewhere good to cook and plate up. Typically a kitchen marquee is built on the back of the main one. Consult your caterer as to how much space they need. Don’t just go with what the marquee company suggests, it could be too small for the realities of your menu.

Storage and Waste – you may need space for a sound/lighting desk behind the scenes, perhaps a small area to be used for band changing and suppliers to eat. Think about a simple pop up gazebo or marquee extension incorporated into the build, especially if access to the main house is out of the question or it’s a long way from the marquee site. You’ll be amazed at how much kit and how many boxes it takes to create a great party. Think about waste as well; your domestic bins and collection will not be enough, so particularly for larger events, think about hiring a skip for waste and rubbish or ensure that your caterers/suppliers will take packaging away with them.

Flowers – think very carefully about styles here. Even if you’re opting for hardwood/cassette flooring you are unlikely to have a totally flat surface so tall flower arrangements in thin vases could be liable to topple. Think about sturdiness!  Also, too much white in a white lined marquee can get lost so think about introducing some contrast in colour either in the flowers or in the linings themselves.

Lighting – I’m always talking about the virtues of good lighting ideas and it’s so very important in marquees. You have a blank canvas which needs character and coloured uplighting as a minimum is so very effective here to add warmth and later on a party atmosphere.  Of course, you can really go to town with lighting rigs and effects depending on the wedding budget and a marquee is an ideal place to play about with gobos, colour washes and all sorts of specialist lighting if that’s your desire.

Loos –Look carefully at the different options out there for toilets. You might be very disappointed if you end up with portaloo style toilets from your marquee company if you had posh loos in mind. There are lots of companies who provide some stunning temporary toilet blocks to various degrees of luxury some of which can be built totally within the marquee structure if needed and you’d never know they weren’t always living there!

Pathways and parking – think about the guest journey from car to the different areas of the marquee. Even in dry weather, some matting might be useful to mark out pathways (and you can dress with lanterns for a beautiful effect). Certainly in rain, you need to think very carefully about covering grassy areas with matting or, if budget permits, using trackway on very high use parking areas.

Generator –book a generator for your power requirements. I find that almost all of my events require a fair amount of power whether it’s the kitchen requirements, lighting and sound or the band and DJ. Make sure you have one suitable for size (check power requirements from all the relevant suppliers and make sure the one ordered is large enough with a back-up option).

Furnishings – look closely at all the furniture requirements you need for a marquee celebration. Starting with dining tables, you’ll also need tables for buffets, gift tables, possibly a cake table, one for the DJ to use (unless you have a booth) and possibly a whole range of other uses depending on your choices. Your caterer can give good advice here. Unlike in a bricks and mortar venue where they will often have some spare furniture around, you need to ensure it’s all there and ordered with appropriate linen too.

And finally don’t forget, good communication is the key to it all. Consult with your expert suppliers and get their advice in pulling together your plans – they do this time and again.

Happy Party Planning!


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