A GUIDE TO PLANNING A MARQUEE WEDDING
A large percentage of STUDIO SORORES weddings are hosted within the grounds of private homes or at manor houses where indoor space is limited and marquees required to accommodate large guest numbers. We travel all over the UK and abroad to produce these often logistically challenging weddings, and are well regarded as the top planner and designer of marquee weddings in the country, with over a decade of experience producing luxury celebrations.
A marquee wedding certainly isn't the "easy" choice for a wedding. They are inherently expensive, require experts on site, and will demand bringing in a large team of staff, huge amounts of equipment and all of your supplies. That said, they are the perfect way to build your own bespoke venue and backdrop for your big day, and when using a family home it certainly brings a personal touch to the proceedings too. I wanted to share some of my top tips if you are newly engaged and considering a marquee as an option.
Consider the surroundings
I travel all over the country and beyond and have planned and designed weddings in every type of tent imaginable - from clearspan marquees, to traditional pole tents, sperry tents, stretch tents, giant teepees, glass structures and even a giant dome with a stage.
It can be confusing deciding what type of structure you should choose, but will be dictated to by just TWO things: your budget and your surroundings.
If you don't have flat land then you really are more restricted in options as you will need to build a cassette floor in order to maintain a level ground under foot. This immediately impacts the price and level of equipment/staff needed on site, so definitely a consideration (even more so if it's a steep incline or you have other garden obstructions to work around!
If you are lucky enough to have a flat lawn/tennis court or other area within the grounds then you can opt for one of the other tents. It's worth noting that you can still have a hard floor, but you won't need structural marquee engineers to build up as they would need to on an incline. NB. You would be surprised... what looks flat to the eye isn't always so when we carry out proper site assessments!
Aside from the logistics you'll also need to consider access. I have managed to get equipment into some pretty crazy locations over the years, but it really does help to have wide enough roads and turning points for large lorries and vehicles!
Finally, you will want to think about the setting... I have transformed farmers fields into black tie venues... but I do always think about the style and preferred aesthetic overall before advising on the style of tent.
Choose your suppliers carefully
Finding the right team to pull together your perfect marquee wedding is critical. I cannot stress this enough!
You will want a marquee company who can be creative, working with designers and florists on installations and logistics as much as they do on ensuring electrical supply and structures are safe and reliable. Ideally they should be able to provide mock ups, cad drawings, illustrations and visual guides on top of a basic quote.
As an expert marquee wedding planner I know what to look out for in quotes - I often find an initial proposal to someone who isn't a professional always edges on the more basic side. You want to ensure your quote is as inclusive as possible, so do read through properly, or you risk quickly escalating costs as you proceed with the planning process.
Similarly your caterer is hugely important. They need to understand how to run a kitchen on site properly and to the same standards as a restaurant (yes, really!). They will need to provide accurate information on power requirements, access to water, space needed for preparation and delivery, and an area for staff in between service times. Having an experienced wedding planner really helps with all of this, as we know what to ask and how to assess professional standards - plus we have a little black book of reliable vendors we have already worked with many times over.
Plan, plan plan.... plan some more
There is a huge amount of work involved in bringing a well executed marquee vision to life. I spend hundreds of hours on it with every client, and block out at least a week before each marquee wedding to be on site and on call 24 hours. Every single element must be considered, cross checked and thought through - communication between vendors is critical. As an experienced expert in designing and producing marquee weddings I know exactly what to look out for and the scheduling time required to ensure everybody can deliver their part of the set up process.
You will need to be meticulous in your planning of the final weeks unless you have a professional booked in to support you throughout. Be prepared to watch the weather like a hawk (I have had to stop marquee builds due to dangerous storm conditions, pushing our schedule into an uncomfortably short timeframe, but we got the job done!), be prepared for multiple vehicles arriving on site at different times and asking a multitude of questions, be prepared to change your vision or plans slightly at the last minute due to an unavoidable logistical issue, and plan well ahead to be able to deal with guests on arrival. From staff on site directing, car parking, public transport access, toilet facilities, security staff, emergency technicians... there really is a LOT to consider!
Hire a planner from the start!
If budget allows then I would highly recommend using the services of an experienced professional event planner who specialises in countryside marquee weddings. If possible, book them at the start of the process - it is much easier for us to avoid problems than it is for us to fix them. Hiring someone to troubleshoot in the final weeks (or even on the day itself, yikes) is honestly not the solution. The entire process will be much more enjoyable and less stressful with someone to manage everything from start to finish, and especially rewarding if they are also an event designer who can create something really magical with your space.