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traditional wedding marquee with poles

Over the years we have planned many a marquee wedding and event, I absolutely love them and they offer the perfect blank canvas to style but, with so many different types, styles and designs to choose from, where do you start? It can all seem very confusing. Yes, the best for you will depend on a few factors from the practical parts (like the plot and ground) through to the style of your wedding, but here's a starter guide through the wonderful world of wedding and event tents!


A marquee is a marquee, right? Well, no. At the simplest level we can split your classic marquee into two types: those called clear span and what I'm calling the traditional pole style. I work with both very often and they both have their pros and cons. Let's begin with the clear span. The major benefits of these tents are their flexibility. In super simple terms this type of marquee is built from an aluminium frame that this then clothed and lined. It means no poles inside to work around and because it is modular it's a really flexible structure to fit most spaces (oh and because there are no pegs, it works on most surfaces). A growing trend is to opt to bring the outside in with clear (PVC or even glass) roofs and sides or a combination of covered versus clear. They can be deemed less attractive from the outside than their tent and pole cousins but, if you have the budget and eye to style the inside beautifully, to me, this really doesn't matter. One major top tip is to ensure your marquee company offers beautiful lining options that are (importantly) well maintained and cleaned properly from season to season. Your linings set the base of the aesthetic.

Inside a clear span marquee

hanging florals in a clearspan marquee


Another classic marquee style, the traditional pole style is basically a marquee with poles where the sides are pegged into the ground. Because it is pegged into the ground, this style will not work on a solid surface (like the clear span). The major draw of this style is the beautiful English country garden look. The sides can easily be rolled up to bring outdoors in on a warm day and dropped again for the evening. In my opinion, your traditional pole marquee has a much more vintage/rustic feel and can work brilliantly for this style of wedding. You can even make a feature of the poles with your floral decor. One watch out with this style is to be careful with regards to exactly what you are getting when it comes to the material of your marquee. Personally if I have a client investing in the look of this traditional tent and pole, I want the cloth to be canvas or sail cloth, not a coated plastic alternative. Canvas/sail cloth is far nicer and the original sailcloth will allow sunlight to travel to the inside to give a bright and airy feel. They look and feel very different to the tents made with polyester or PVC. In general, the former are a little more expensive because they are are harder for the marquee company to keep clean and maintain, but they are so worth it. My final tip is to ensure that the poles are wood (not metal) and that the guy ropes are rope - if you are paying for traditional, I believe you should invest in traditional craftsmanship when it comes to the detail.

classic pole marquee


There are various other tent names you may come across. Most are brand names and/or slight variations on the pole tent. A Sperry tent is basically a pole tent made in America by an American company called Sperry. The Raj tent (sometimes called Indian or Moroccan wedding tent) offer a variation on the shape of the traditional pole and typically come with gorgeous ornate and sometimes colourful fabrics and trimmings.

sperry tent

sperry tent


Now the kata and the tipi are very very similar. In fact some companies don't make great distinction between the two. If you are being specific the tipi (or tepee or teepee) is a cone shaped tent, distinguished by the smoke flaps at the top of the structure. The kata is of nordic origin but they essentially look pretty similar.


The yurt is timber in structure and circular. It has a very unique look internally and externally (because of the timber frame) which looks beautiful but is a distinct style which may or may not match your wedding. They tend to also have no poles inside which can make it a more flexible space (in that you don't have poles to work around).

wedding yurt


Another marquee worth a mention is the capri marquee. These have open sides and curved openings. personally I wouldn't suggest them for your full wedding meal and dancing but they can be a fabulous choice for the drinks reception - perfect for hot weather (or rain) shelter, they have a contemporary and cool look and feel.

I hope this guide has made the world of marquees a little less complex. Marquee weddings and events provide huge flexibility, allow you to create your own space and can work so well with the outside setting, they are my favourite!


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