Marquee weddings are amongst my favourite type, not least because a marquee is essentially a blank canvas from a style point of view. If you are styling one for the first time, this can be a little daunting to get right so here are my top tips and advice to get you started.
ZONE YOUR AREAS
You'll first want to think about the layout of the space and it's helpful here to think about zoning your marquee into spaces. If you are planning on holding your entire reception inside the marquee you'll want areas for: dancing/stage; the bar and chill out space; dining. It often works well in terms of the flow of the party to have your bar/chill out and dance floor in adjacent spaces and the dining in a separate space. One of my favourite layouts is to have the stage and dance floor at one end, dining at the other, with a circular bar and chill out in the centre. Make sure you work with your marquee provider to ensure that the tent you have booked is the right size to accommodate all that you want to do within it - in an ideal world you don't want to have to be moving dining tables in order to make space of dancing later on.
DECIDE ON YOUR TABLE LAYOUT
If you are dining inside your marquee, depending on your gust numbers, this seating with take up a large portion of your space and your table shapes, sizes and layout is important to work out up front. Round tables can be space effective but don't always have the same impact as long rows of trestles. At this stage it is helpful to get your marquee company or wedding planner to suggest a draft CAD layout scaled to size.
BEWARE OF THE POLE
Unless you are opting for a Clearspan (or frame based) marquee, you'll need to take into account the poles within the tent itself when planning your layout/zones. The number of these poles will vary depending on marquee size but, for most weddings of over 100 guests, you'll be looking at at least 3, if not 4 poles. This is particularly important when planning the dining layouts.
The flexibility of a marquee is that you can pretty much create an entrance/exit anywhere. You'll want to make sure, from a practical point of view that guests can access facilities such as toilets easily and that there is a natural 'flow' from where they will enter the wedding marquee from, for example, the outside drinks reception. If you are dining inside the marquee your caterers will have some form of catering/service tent which you'll want to keep guests away from as much as possible.
FLORALS & LIGHTING
In my opinion flowers and lighting are the two biggest ways to create your style and ambiance inside your marquee. Work with your florist to decide on the key areas you want to 'dress'. I always think it is better to focus on 2-3 areas rather than scatter elements and I'd advise thinking about your dining tables as a priority and then considering each of your other zones from there. You might want to think about using your poles as focal points for flowers or foliage installations. A marquee has height so hanging installations and/or lighting that utilise that height can be really effective. I've worked with suspended platforms of foliage and Edison bulbs; giant disco balls; trees and metal frames over tables from which we've created canopies of flowers as some examples.
COSY CHILL OUT
Creating a sofa/seating area with rugs, candlelight and a mix of low and high tables, not only looks really effective but is a practical space for guests to relax. You can literally create a mini lounge set up complete with side lamps, candles and coffee tables. Props can work really well here too (baskets of blankets, hostess trolleys of help yourself drinks...) Just make sure that you feed through any socket requirements to your marquee company/whoever is rigging your power hook up.
FLOORING & SEATING
This may sound odd but, don't under estimate the impact of the flooring and dining chairs as part of your marquee style - they take up a lot of square metre space and will make an impact to the overall aesthetic. Most marquee companies will offer you various floor options - from matting through to carpet and wooden board. Speak with them on what is appropriate for your style and marquee surface. And chairs.... there are so many option of dining chair available now - from ghost chair to cross back to bentwood. I am a huge fan of a chair in creating a 'look'.
INVEST TIME UP FRONT
Investing time up front to working through both the layout of your wedding marquee and building up the right elements of style will ensure that your wedding not only looks fabulous but flows brilliantly in terms of the party and the overall experience. Use the experience of your supplier team to help guide you and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
As with any part of the planning process, investing up front in the bigger picture pieces - like honing your overall style them and direction - will save you so much time and energy in the long run, it will also ensure that you have a cohesive look that runs throughout the wedding. Don't be overwhelmed by the blank canvas of a marquee - use it to your advantage!
Image credit to Imogen Xiana