How to Plan a Marquee Wedding Reception on the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay!

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There's no doubt about it, some of the most beautiful weddings we've ever seen have been epic marquee receptions. We love the flexibility that comes with hosting a marquee wedding, but here's the catch: planning a marquee wedding is completely different to hosting a wedding at a venue, in every way possible! From the costs, to the logistics, to the hire requirements - there’s a lot to think about when it comes to pulling off a seamless and functional marquee reception.

We completely understand how overwhelming it can be trying to essentially build your wedding from scratch. So if you’re currently planning a marquee wedding here on the Gold Coast, Tweed Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay, we’re here to help! From finding the perfect blank canvas wedding venue to figuring out the right marquee hire requirements, keep reading as we take you through the process step by step.


First things first, are you still trying to decide whether a marquee reception is a good fit for your celebration? If you’re currently on the fence, here are a few of the key benefits that come from hosting a marquee wedding:

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 hire you choose, to the furniture you use to deck it out, you can basically build your very own wedding from scratch.

UTILISE ANY SPACE:  Many of our couples opt for marquee weddings so they can utilise family properties or their very own backyard. Any private space that holds a special meaning to you can be transformed into a wedding venue simply by incorporating a marquee. We’ve 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: Hiring a marquee for your wedding will also give you peace of mind in the event of wet weather, so you don't have to stress about finding a last minute Plan B!  While an al fresco wedding under the stars might sound super romantic, it’s important to be realistic and prepared for any scenario. Hiring a marquee allows you to host your celebration through rain or shine, without the worry.

  1. Find the perfect marquee-friendly wedding venue

If you have your heart set on planning a marquee wedding, the first step will be finding a suitable marquee-friendly venue. Many of our couples have private properties they wish to use as their wedding location - if so, most marquee hire companies will offer a site inspection first, so they can check out the space and ensure it’s safe for installation.

If you don’t have a family property to utilise, don’t stress! We have so many amazing DIY wedding venue options dotted down the East Coast. From lush hinterland homes to secluded garden settings, you can check out some of our favourite blank canvas wedding venues on the Gold Coast, Tweed Coast, Brisbane and Byron Bay on the blog.

2. Choose your marquee size and design

The next step will be finding and securing your wedding marquee hire! Marquees come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so it's important to choose the best option to suit your requirements. Securing your marquee hire early should also be a top priority - we recommend booking your marquee hire 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 absolutely 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 these requirements during these early stages 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’ll be able to suggest the most appropriate marquee size for your needs.

You can also roughly calculate your appropriate marquee hire 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 a guide: 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.

Styled by  The Events Lounge  / Photo by  Figtree Pictures

Styled by The Events Lounge / Photo by Figtree Pictures

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.

Along with the different sizing options, your marquee hire specialist will also have a variety of styles and designs available, too. From clear marquees to silk-lined marquees, each style can also be customised with or without walls or draping to suit both the weather and your styling vision.

We recommend asking your marquee hire 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. For example, clear marquees are generally a little exxier, but the ambience they create means you won't have to go overboard with additional styling.

Styled by  The Events Lounge  / Photo by  Figtree Pictures

Styled by The Events Lounge / Photo by Figtree Pictures

3. Consider your additional marquee hire requirements

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

4. Create your furniture checklist

Now for the fun part - decking out your marquee with a beautiful selection of furniture and decor to bring your wedding vision to life! Keeping in mind that you’re working with a complete blank canvas, the following hire 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: we recommend putting aside at least 10k as a minimum to cover the marquee, flooring, furniture and lighting.

5. Confirm 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 you have your logistics organised to ensure everything runs smoothly!

First you'll need to confirm when your marquee hire company will be bumping into the venue for set-up. It goes without saying that you'll need to make sure the marquee site is easily accessible for cars and trucks, so 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.

If you’ve arranged lighting or any hanging installations for your marquee, these should be the next suppliers to bump in while the marquee is empty and the floor space is clear. Your furniture suppliers should bump in next to set up your tables, chairs, and additional hire items. 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 be a worthwhile investment 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 help liaise with all of your suppliers, create a run-sheet, and ensure everything is executed seamlessly on the day.

6. Ask the experts!

From figuring out the right marquee hire size, 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! Our team can assist with everything from marquee hire recommendations to floor plan guidance and furniture suggestions to suit your styling vision.

Keeping the above tips in mind and with a little help from the experts, you should be well on your way to planning the perfect marquee reception. You can contact our team right here to get the ball rolling!