How to plan a marquee wedding reception | with Events In Tents

There's no doubt about it - some of the most beautiful weddings we've ever seen have been gorgeous marquee receptions. Marquee weddings have definitely increased in popularity over the last couple of years, and with such beautiful marquee options available at the moment it's really no surprise.  

But here's the catch - planning a marquee wedding is completely different to planning a wedding at a venue, in every way possible! From the costs, to the logistics, to the hire requirements - there's definitely a lot to think about when it comes to pulling off a seamless (and beautiful) marquee reception.

We love marquee wedding receptions, but competely understand how overwhelming it can be trying to figure out where to start with essentially building your wedding from scratch. So we thought we'd offer some of our own insight along with the expert advice from the marquee specialists at Events In Tents!

Photo by  Heart and Colour

WHY PLAN A MARQUEE WEDDING RECEPTION?
 

Before we go any further - if you're still on the fence about planning a marquee wedding, here are just a few of the most obvious benefits:

CREATIVE FREEDOM / A marquee allows you to design a completely unique and personal wedding from the ground up - it's the perfect blank canvas. From the style of marquee to the furniture you use to deck it out, you can build your very own wedding from scratch.

UTILISE ANY SPACE/ We see a lot of couples opting for marquee weddings so that they can utilise the space at family properties or their own backyard. Any space that has a special meaning to you can be transformed into a wedding venue by incorporating a marquee. We have worked at marquee wedding receptions everywhere from Brisbane backyards, to Gold Coast homes and the Byron Bay hinterland. The possibilities are endless!

PEACE OF MIND / Marquee weddings will give you peace of mind in the event of wet weather, so you don't have to stress about your big day being washed out and trying to come up with a last minute Plan B!  Marquee's allow your wedding to run seamlessly, through rain or shine.
 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT MARQUEE 

Marquees come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so it's important to choose the best option to suit your requirements. Events in Tents recommends booking your marquee around 12 months prior to the big date.

The right marquee size for your wedding is going to depend on a few things:

  • The space available at the venue site
  • Your guest numbers
  • The style of your event (sit down vs cocktail style)

You'll also want to think about which aspects of your day are going to take place in the marquee. Do you want to host everything in the marquee from your pre-dinner drinks to your reception and then dancing? Or will canapes be hosted outside first, with guests entering the marquee for dinner?   Having a clear idea of your requirements at the beginning is the easiest way to ensure you choose the perfect marquee.

Make sure you have this information handy when you approach your marquee hire specialist, as they will be able to suggest the most appropriate marquee size for your needs. 

The expert team at Events In Tents suggest calculating your approximate size requirements based on a "square metre per guest" rule of thumb. For a sit-down reception, work on 1.2m square per guest, or 0.75m square per guest for a stand-up event. 

You'll then need to think about how much additional space you want to allow for your dance floor, cake table/gift tables, and any extra inclusions like staging or lounging areas. As an example: for a 150 pax sit-down wedding that also requires a dance floor and lounging area, you would be looking at a marquee size of 10m x 33m.

The size of your marquee will also depend on your table layout. Do you want long rows or individual tables? Do you need space for a seperate bridal table? Try to map out your ideal floor plan in your head so that you can communicate this to your marquee supplier.

Most marquee hire companies will also offer a site inspection, so they can check out the space first hand, ensure it is safe for installation and make the appropriate recommendations for sizing based on your needs. 

Along with the right size, your marquee specialist will also have a variety of styles available. From clear marquees to silk-lined marquees, each style can also be customised with or without walls or draping to suit the weather and your vision. Ask your marquee supplier for photos from previous events to choose your favourite, but be aware that different styles and inclusions will come at a different price point. 

Clear marquees are generally a little exxier, but the ambience they create means you won't have to go overboard with additional styling (you can see why Events in Tents says clear marquees are by far the most popular option!).

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Styled by  The Events Lounge  / Photo by  Figtree Pictures

Styled by The Events Lounge / Photo by Figtree Pictures

The actual marquee structure itself is just one piece of the puzzle. If you're planning a marquee wedding reception, you'll also need to make sure you have the following items accounted for depending on your requirements:

  • Flooring
  • Portable toilets
  • Generators
  • Lighting for both inside and outside the marquee
  • Cool rooms 
  • Heaters (for winter) or fans (for summer)
  • Kitchen equipment 
  • Staging 

Ask your marquee supplier if this is something they can assist with. If they don't supply the items directly, they will be definitely be able to point you in the right direction. 

Styled by The Events Lounge / Photo by Figtree Pictures

CREATE YOUR FURNITURE CHECKLIST

Don't forget about the furniture and decor requirements you'll need to hire to provide seating for your guests and deck out your marquee. Keeping in mind that you are working with a blank canvas, the following items will have to be considered:

  • Dining tables and chairs (for a sit down reception)
  • Cocktail furniture (for a stand up reception)
  • All tableware - plates, cutlery, glassware, napkins
  • A service bar (or 2, or 3!)
  • Table decor - vases, candle holders, charger plates, etc.

Our top tip is to create a checklist for all of your furniture requirements so you can tick them off as you go and ensure nothing is forgotten! Grab the dimensions of your furniture pieces so that you can pencil in your floor plan to scale and make sure everything is going to fit comfortably in your chosen marquee. 

And when it comes to budgeting for all of the above: Events In Tents recommends putting aside at least 10k as a minimum to cover the marquee, flooring, furniture and lighting. 

CONFIRMING THE LOGISTICS

A marquee wedding reception usually involves many different suppliers. Everything you've booked will need to be delivered, set up and then packed down following the event. So it's crucial that you have your logistics organised to ensure everything runs smoothly!

First you'll need to confirm with your marquee company when they will bumping into the venue to set-up. It goes without saying that you'll need to make sure the marquee site is easily accessible for cars and trucks, so that your suppliers can unload all of their gear. Depending on how long your hire period is, your marquee company may be able to install a day or even a couple of days prior to the wedding. The marquee should be completely installed before any other suppliers start bumping in. 

Photo by  Heart and Colour

If you have arranged lighting or any hanging florals for the marquee, these should be the next suppliers to bump in while the marquee is empty and the space is clear. Your furniture suppliers should bump in next to set up your tables, chairs, tableware and/or cocktail furniture. Catering equipment, toilets, cool rooms, heaters and styling materials can usually be bumped in on the morning of your wedding prior to your caterers arriving.

Then for your pack down, everything is reversed. You'll want to get your furniture, equipment and lighting out of the road first, to make sure the marquee can be pulled down quickly without any interruption. Make sure all of your suppliers are working from the one master run sheet with the same timings and floor plans, so that everyone is aware of who is bumping in, where, and when! 

Side note: you can see why wedding planners and on-the-day coordinators can really be a godsend for marquee weddings. If you're planning a marquee reception on a private property or your own home, it means you don't have the luxury of a venue manager to assist with the planning and set up. A wedding planner can be worth their weight in gold and can help liaise with all of your suppliers, create a run-sheet, and ensure everything is set up beautifully on the day.

ASK THE EXPERTS

From marquee sizes to choosing the right furniture to deck out your event, it's always best to ask the experts for their insider knowledge - weddings are what we live and breathe and we've done it all before!

Keeping the above tips in mind, you should be well on your way to planning the perfect marquee reception. Huge thank you to the team at Events in Tents for their valuable insight.

Happy planning! x