So if you hadn’t realised by now Marquees are completely my bag! I love transforming a blank space into a fully functioning and beautifully styled event venue. Every wedding and party is different so the flexibility this provides is just mind blowing, for example for one client next year we are transforming a marquee into a fully fledged nightclub and for another we are creating a organic, flower heavy, midsummer inspired style. Marquees are NOT supposed to be big white blank expanses. So, to help give you a few pointers to start with I thought I would give you a few tips…..
Your Marquee Structure.
Ok, so the first thing that is going to 100% dictate your styling is the type of marquee you have picked and if you want to more about the different options read this blog. Tipis will need very little extra decor and their structure will end itself to lighting inside, whether this is strings of fairy lights, mounted spot lights or uplighters with different coloured gels. With more open spaced marquees such as Clear Spans or Traditional style marquees you have one large open space to play with so let’s focus on these.
Colour in Your Marquee
So given you have a huge white space, you will need to consider injecting some colour into your styling. The traditional whites and greens will work but lean more towards the greens – so more foliage, otherwise you will find the whites just blend in and it’s a waste of your budget. Also consider that the canvas and linings on these marquees is not pure white so all your colours you pick will have a yellow tone to them once positioned inside your marquee. Another top tip is to consider using a coloured linen on your tables, or exposed wooden tables and pick chairs which are not pure white. Adding in a textured tablecloth in a subtle shade – even a soft grey can completely lift the overall look. Using wooden chairs will introduce some warmth and another texture for interest. If you want to get really into adding colour you can introduce a coloured carpet but be ware of this as it can become over powering, a subtle charcoal or a neutral shade will be the most suitable in most cases but definitely play around with it at the concept stage to see what you prefer. The other point to mention about carpets is that believe it or not people will not notice the carpet as long as it is unobtrusive and on the whole your guest’s eyes need to be drawn upwards not downwards to the carpet!
Lighting Your Marquee
I often feel this is something that brides and grooms overlook but lighting can make a massive difference to the overall style of your marquee. I would absolutely recommend you put something in your budget for lighting inside your marquee. This can be as simple as swapping out the plain chandeliers and introducing something more grand like an oversized crystal chandelier for a glam look or if you are more into a contemporary/urban look then exposed Edison bulb displays are fabulous. As well as the lights that hang down, also think about using lighting to create atmosphere – having disco lighting when the music is on in the evening is quite obvious but clever lighting can transition your wedding from day to evening and through to the night, whether this is uplighters that change colour to add interesting shades against the linings. Fairy lights can add a twinkly in the evening or a romantic black, pea lit cloth over your dance floor can help to create your dancing zone. Also think about candlelight, check with your marquee company and also your linen company (sometimes they ban you using coloured candles unless they are enclosed as they stain the tablecloths) if they are happy for you to use these first but tea lights/pillar candles/tall candlesticks/candelabras can all add a romantic and intimate air to your dining tables. You can also buy really great replica candles that are LED lights so explore that option if your marquee company will not permit the use of open flames. Hanging festoon lights criss-crossing over your marquee ceiling are great if you are looking for a more fun alternative to hanging chandeliers and you can even complement these with draping – particularly great if you don’t like the look of the standard pleated linings of your marquee or you have a traditional marquee and you want to lower the internal roof height to make it more cosy. Bang on trend at the moment are Neon signs which can shed out a colourful hue into your marquee and also add a bit of personalisation to your day. There are so many options to explore but your marquee company should be able to help you or go to a specific event lighting company for some inspiration.
Decorating the Inside of your Marquee.
The chances are you probably won’t have a hard and fast theme for your wedding but there will be little touches you want to inject into your day to make it feel cohesive and well-thought through. Flowers is the big one here and small jam jars on tables just won’t give you the impact. You can use flowers in so many ways, whether it is on your tables, as hanging installations, as garlands draping across the ceiling or round the perimeter. Introducing flowers and foliage really brings the outside in, which I think it what marquees are all about. Make sure you really get to grips with any hanging installations with your florist as these will need to be properly planned and executed due to the Health and Safety implications. As I mentioned before, do think about which colours will show up in your marquee, using bigger headed flowers will give more impact and fill the space better. Also consider using foliage and flowers that have a scent as this will make your whole marquee smell divine. You may want to hire in trees to break up your expanse and zone the areas of your marquee. If you want to know more about zoning then pop across to my Facebook Group as I talk about this A LOT in there! Trees are also great for adding texture and warmth into your marquee, you can decorate them with twinkly lights to personalise them and bring them more in line with the rest of your wedding design.
Focal Points in your Marquee
One of the absolute key things for styling a marquee is to keep your decorations at eye-level and above. You want guests to enter and look up. If you spend budget on small bits that sit on the floor it will just be a waste – when budget is a consideration go bold – have fewer larger floral displays or prop displays. I would also include in their bracket tableware and table decorations – think place cards, menus, knives, forks etc – if budget is a consideration then control your costs here – and I hate to say this because I LOVE a beautifully dressed wedding table and gorgeous wedding stationery but budget has to come first! Using focal points cleverly in your layout will definitely make you budget stretch further. Think about where you place these focal points too. Use them to create a flow around your marquee, incorporating key events on your timeline. For example, think about cutting the cake – this is a prime photo opportunity but so often the cake is displayed in a dark corner on a small white table with a plain background. If you are spending money on a beautifully created cake then consider showing this investment off as well as you can. Even if you need to get someone to move some of the freestanding decor around to create a better backdrop for your cake then it will be worth it when you receive your pictures! Spending money on your focal areas will also help you stay focused with your planning, unless you have a massive budget and huge team of volunteers you can’t do everything.
Where Should you Style?
Here are some key areas in your marquee to think about styling (you may not have all these):
- Marquee Entrance
- Dining Tables
- Cake Table/background
- Speeches location
- Gift table
- Casual Seating area
- Dancefloor – think about those all important first dance pictures!
- Evening food
- Bar area
One Final Tip…
I know you will have put sooo much thought, effort and budget into making your marquee look amazing so don’t forget to tell your photographer and videographer about the details! If you don’t tell them the important bits you want to get photographed there is a chance they will get missed with all the other fun stuff happening! Carving out 15mins into your photographer’s timings before you guests arrive into your marquee will allow them to take some wide angled shots of the interior of your marquee before everyone enters and moves chairs and table decorations around and also of some of the finer details you have created!
I am always available for Private Inspiration Sessions if you would like a more detailed, professional input into your wedding design or marquee plans so do get in touch if I can help you.