traditional wedding marquee with poles

The popularity of the at home or marquee wedding is on the rise with my clients next year and I welcome it! I absolutely love a marquee wedding but, let's face it, there's a heap of different types, styles and designs to choose from so 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 tents!


I'm going to start with your classic marquee. Simple right? Well, no. Even within this there is a split into those called clear span and what I'm calling the traditional pole style. The clear span is the one I work with a lot. To me they are the perfect blank (and very flexible) canvas to work with. 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.

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, canvas sides and roof and typically hemp guy ropes. Because it is pegged into the ground, this style will not work on a solid surface (like the clear span). On most styles of this marquee, the sides can be rolled up to bring outdoors in. 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 mini feature of statement of the poles with your floral decor.

classic pole marquee


Now with any rule there comes an exception and pearl tents are a fabulous example of this. Simply put the a pearl tent combines the traditional elements of the pole marquee but with a contemporary look and feel. The fabrics are pure white, the shapes geometric (in fact a little art deco in look). The best was to get a feel for what I mean is visually through the images below. They are perfect if you are looking for something contemporary but with the romantic touch of tradition. If you love the idea of these tents, two premium and quality suppliers that provide them are The Pearl Tent Company and The Arabian Tent Company.

Pearl tent marquee

pearl tent marquee


The Sperry tent, also known as sail cloth tents are big news in the US. The canopies are made from genuine sailcloth and they offer a very unique look. In my view, the Sperry tent is like an exceptionally gorgeous version of the traditional pole marquee. Their signature feature is the high top roof which gives a really lovely feeling of height and space. Papakata are one of the leading providers in the UK and their tents with oyster coloured canvas are hand crafted in Massachusetts. One variation on the shape of the Sperry you may come across is the Raj tent (sometimes called Indian wedding tent). These 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. Beautiful World Tents offer some lovely examples. The kata is of nordic origin but they essentially look pretty damn similar. Papakata also offer this style (in addition to the Sperry).

kata or tipi tent for a wedding


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). If you are interested in a yurt Wedding Yurts is well worth a look.

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.


The final marquee type worth a mention is the Pavilion tent. LPM Bohemia do a splendid example. To me these are kind of yurt like in design (see my notes above about considering if this works with your wedding style), but a little grander and definitely a statement piece. They are also referred to as luxury yurts and sometimes an orangery.... A kind of yurt yet not!

pavilion wedding marquee

The final thing to leave you with is a word of caution over photography.... some tent structures can make lighting a little tricky (the canvas colour of a tipi for example, can make things a little yellow looking and the light inside a yurt can also be difficult. If you are having a tent based wedding, I'd definitely give your photographer a heads up at the point of enquiry and perhaps check out any previous work where they've photographed a similar wedding.

Image credits: Katie Mitchell Photography, Sung Blue Photography, Miss Gen Photography, Dorset Party Marquees, The Pearl Tent Company, Papakata, Natasha Cadman, Green Antlers Photography, Wedding Yurts, unknown, LPM Bohemia