What is my perfect wedding marquee?
There are sooooo many different styles of marquee and it can sometimes be a bit baffling knowing which would be the best option for you. This is a quick run down of the different types and styles available ….
1. Traditional Marquees
OK, so think of an English country fete and this is the style of marquee that will most likely spring to mind. It is a canvas based marquee, rectangular in shape. With at least two supporting ‘king poles’ which support the roof from the inside of the marquee and a series of guy ropes on the outside, these marquees offer rustic elegance, with a hint of vintage. These can only be erected on grass and are best for the summertime when there are no strong winds forecast. Decorating the king pole and hanging installations can be a little trickier in this style of marquee due to the height of the ceiling, you would just need to arrange some scaffolding/cherry picker/ extra long ladders. You can opt to have a lining in this style of marquee or leave the wooden frame exposed. The canvas is breathable so there is less chance of having condensation gather overnight inside the marquee. it is not possible to split the internal space of a traditional marquee so for a catering kitchen you would need an adjoining smaller marquee.
2. Clear Span Marquees
These are a metal framed marquee which can be extremely flexible in size. They are square or rectangular and you can easily bolt on annexes, perfect for creating entrance porches, dancing areas or field kitchens. If you didn’t want to adjoin smaller annexes, it is possible to create internal walls and section off the large rectangular space within a clear span marquee, great if you want to include a catering kitchen within the marquee area, or have reveal curtains for different parts of your day eg ceremony area, evening bar, dance floor. They are weighted down externally so all the internal space is entirely empty. The framework is covered with a PVC ‘skin’ and there is usually a lining inside the marquee to hide the metal frame. Variations on this style are clear roofed marquees and the glasshouse style marquee made infamous by Pippa Middleton at her wedding. The benefit of this style is it can go on pretty much any ground (including over swimming pools (with the right flooring) /tennis courts) and it is a complete blank canvas so you can really go to town with your decor. Clear span marquees can also be used whatever the time of year due to their structure.
Tipis are built around a wooden framework with a darker canvas stretched over them. You can join multiple tipis together to accommodate large numbers. They tend to be quite dark inside due to the canvas and space inside needs to be carefully planned to maximise it, being mindful of the framework jutting around inside. You can often put a fire pit in the middle due to their roof ventilation system and because you have multiple tipis joined together, it is easy to create ‘zones’ for your celebration. Because the wooden frame is completely exposed it creates its own atmosphere so you wouldn’t need to spend as much on decorating the inside of your tipi as you would with a Clear Span or Traditional style marquee.
4. Sailcloth Tents
These are a real speciality, being a little bit like a traditional marquee as there are internal king poles and external guy ropes, but the canvas is typically white and the ends are curved into a ‘squ-oval’ shape, giving a slightly softer style than a rectangular traditional marquee. The walls are usually all fully window walls. You wouldn’t need a lining with this style.
5. Architectural marquees eg Stretch tents
This style of marquee looks very unusual as the canvas is stretched over supporting internal king poles. The sides dip down in a freeform style, creating open curves. They can be used without any sides and internally the gently curving canvas can provide some really cool aesthetics, especially when combined with creative lighting. They are great if you are after a more contemporary space that is more open to the elements. Similar to a tipi though, just be aware of the sloping canvas as you don’t get full head height throughout the entire internal space. You wouldn’t need any internal lining for this style of marquee and the canvas can come in white or a buff colour. Some marquee companies who provide this style can add window panels inside the open curves to make it air tight and water tight, so you could heat the marquee, be protected from side winds and rain so it is worth asking your marquee supplier if they have this option for you.
6. Wooden Yurts
An intricate wooden structure, a bit like combining a tipi with a sailcloth tent, the wooden yurts can be quite glamorous and offer a completely different style of backdrop to a traditional marquee. These are usually circular but can be elongated ovals and have more handcrafted feel compared to a metal framed marquee.
7. Indian style tents
Another real speciality marquee is the Indian, or Raj style tents, typically these are square with a tiered roof. Quite often the linings are beautifully printed linen with handcrafted designs, evocative of Colonial India.
Picking the Style Of Marquee Which is Right for You.
Having read these brief explanations of the basic marquee options available there is probably a style that speaks to you and stands out as the option you favour. A marquee wedding means that you have the ultimate blank canvas to create a completely personal day. Thinking about the style of wedding you envisage will help you narrow down your search for the ideal marquee. Once you have picked the structure you can then work out how you would best design the flow of your wedding with the space you have and style and decorate.
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Images courtesy of Dominic Whiten, Andy Davison, Natalie J Weddings and Phil Barnes,