When you decide on having a marquee for your wedding you are saying ‘yes’ to so many brilliant things; complete freedom for creativity, versatility with your space and more flexibility on location. I love marquee weddings, but it’s important to note that they were not all created equal. They come with their challenges, the first of which is selecting the right type of structure for your celebration. I’m going to guide you through 7 types of marquee for your wedding and when they might be most suitable, demystifying the sometimes overwhelming world of weddings.
A clearspan marquee does exactly what it says on the tin, and provides a completely clear structure that is unobstructed by poles. I absolutely love these for making the best use of your space because you don’t have to work around any poles, meaning more square footage for dining, drinking and dancing! You can have a clearspan marquee with or without a lining, so your roof can be totally transparent if you so choose. This has pros and cons; a gorgeous view of a starry night or a bright summer’s day is always lovely, but in the summer it can get unbearably hot because of the lack of shade. I recommend this type of marquee for your wedding in the cooler months, or with added considerations to keep you and your guests comfortable. As your wedding planner, I’ll always advise you on the best ways to work with your structure.
Technically a Sperry tent is a type of sailcloth marquee, and these are recognisable by their light-coloured roof made out of material similar to the sail on a boat. It is a traditional-looking structure, and often the first one that comes to mind when someone says ‘marquee’. The poles can make really lovely features and you can design with them in mind, allowing your florist to decorate them or building your bar centrally around one of them. A Sperry tent is named for the family that manufactures this type of structure, and Frame and Tailor (based in York) have written a wonderful article explaining the benefits of opting for a Sperry as opposed to another brand of sailcloth. You can read the whole thing here, but the essential takeaway is that a Sperry sailcloth has a more matt, natural finish which reflects light better; it is a more expensive type of marquee due to its superior quality.
Next up in my list of types of marquee for your wedding is the orangery. These can look absolutely incredible, and there are some stunning examples on the English Marquee Company’s website. Made out of glass with more of a rigid structure, an orangery can be the ultimate in refined luxury. I would caution against these for a summer wedding as you are literally sitting in what is essentially a greenhouse, but at other times of year these are one of my favourite types of marquee.
Tipis are going to give you a completely different atmosphere to the types of marquee for your wedding already mentioned. They are beautifully cosy and because of their chutes you can install fire pits, which are a lovely touch for winter. The only downside is you lose quite a bit of space because of their shape, and their darker colour can make it feel less light and bright inside. Both of these things can be a benefit if you are looking for a more intimate wedding, so it all comes down to personal preference.
There’s no getting away from the fact that marquee weddings can be expensive; the fact that they are a complete blank canvas is both a benefit and a challenge. Costs per head are higher for catering due to the fact that the kitchen has to be brought in, and everything from furniture to power has to be sourced separately. That being said, if you’re looking for a more budget friendly type of marquee then a traditional petal pole structure could be the way to go. This is the classic village-fete style marquee. This style has been tried and tested, and so I tend to steer away from structures like this for my couples. However, if you get creative you can create pretty weddings with all the benefits of a marquee for slightly less of the budget.
As we get towards the end of the list of types of marquee for your wedding, we start to explore less traditional types of structure. Yurts are very unique and have potential to be very cool and chic with their intricate designs. You can now hire surprisingly large yurts, but they still work better for more intimate weddings due to the smaller amount of space. Weddings in yurts can look exotic with a lovely, warm atmosphere. Perfect if you want something different to wow your guests and create a rarely-seen vibe!
Finally, I want to give mention to the pagoda. While this isn’t suitable as a main structure for your wedding, it can work alongside other types of marquee for your wedding. A pagoda is a more temporary structure and can be used to create areas of shade, for example with seating for your guests on a hot day. They can also provide focal points as a feature for your ceremony or part of your reception, as well as acting as linking structures or entrance and exit points to your marquee. There is potential to create an interesting flow for your event with pagodas, and we can really get creative to think outside the box and spice up the traditional marquee!
I love marquee weddings because of their 3 ‘f’s – freedom, flexibility and finesse. However, there’s no getting away from it – planning a marquee wedding can be overwhelming due to the fact that you’re building your whole event from scratch. Visit the marquee weddings page of my website to find out more about the little (and large!) details I can help you with, and together we can create memorable magic that is completely one of a kind. See you over there!