The marquee is a wedding reception classic, and amazing tents and tipis are among your other brilliant options. Here are the best wedding marquee ideas, how to choose the right style, and what else you will need to know.
Holding your reception in a marquee might seem like the ultimate in summer wedding fun – and it is – but it can take a bit of planning to get it right. While an established venue will have its own seating, bar, dance floor, lighting, kitchen and catering staff, all this will need to be worked out with a marquee. Most couples hire a marquee because it’s a blank canvas, your own space to decorate as uniquely as you wish. Wedding marquees come in all shapes and sizes, to suit every style and budget.
1. Space: Your guests need enough room to sit, eat and dance. You should also make sure there is space for a top table if you are having one and a place to cut the cake in full view of guests.
2. Lighting: When it gets dark in the evening you should provide enough light for your guests to get around, and you could also decorate the marquee with fairylights and lanterns. If it’s in the middle of a field you’ll need a generator for electricity.
3. Toilets: If your marquee is not near to a building with toilets then you will need to hire portaloos. Go for the more up market ones with mirrors and fancy handwash – it is a wedding not a muddy festival, after all.
4. Seating: Whether you’re having a seated wedding breakfast or just a buffet you’ll need to hire in tables and chairs.
5. Catering: For large or luxury weddings, call the caterers in. For smaller or more informal weddings if you don’t want to do the food yourselves, consider ordering party platters for a buffet from your local deli, supermarket or bakery.
6. Dance floor: Every wedding needs a dance floor or at least a safe space for your uncle to fling himself around in full view of everyone, and of course, for your first dance.
7. Bar: Hire a mobile bar – they’re brilliant and look good too. Just remember to let guests know in advance if it is a pay bar.
8. Decoration: Go to town on making your wedding marquee as beautiful a space as you can.
9. Parking: It’s wonderful having a marquee miles from anywhere but make sure everyone can get to your marquee, both by transport to the location and by foot without any slip hazards.
10. Transport: Make it easier for everyone by putting on a coach to get there and then back to a hotel at different times in the evening.
If your wedding reception is for a smaller number of guests, and you have the space, then you might want to hold it in your own garden. You can buy an affordable gazebo for your guests to shelter under from sun or showers, or simply a standing shade for smaller spaces. A decorative gazebo could be a lovely investment for your garden, and a fun tipi will be a big hit with any children at your wedding. Here’s our pick of the best:
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.