You’ve said ‘I do’ and now comes the fun part – planning the wedding of your dreams. It’s likely that this is the first time you’ve had to organise an event of this scale. And, indeed, the first time you’ve had the opportunity to design your perfect day. Planning a wedding should be exciting and rewarding, allowing you both to celebrate a deep and unrelenting love. And, if you’re thinking about something more unique, marquee weddings are versatile, modern and ever-popular. Here, we bring you the ultimate guide to planning your dream marquee wedding, ensuring you don’t leave anything to chance.

Consider your budget

The very first thing any responsible couple does when planning a wedding is to consider your budget. Standing on equal grounds with your partner will ensure you don’t overspend in certain areas while not being able to afford others. Take account of how much money you have in savings or sit down with loved ones who may be willing to help. Once you have a clear understanding of your budget, you’ll be able to hone in and ensure the wedding you have in your head is achievable. Remember, the average wedding in the UK costs £31,974 so not being aware of your budget ahead of time can have significant financial implications.

Find the location

The beauty of a marquee wedding is your ability to be more flexible with location. Some couples choose to host their wedding reception at home or on family-owned land. Equally, there are hundreds of places where you can rent out fields and vineyards for private use. So the first thing you need to do is decide where in the country you would like to tie the knot. From there, you can find the perfect spot and start planning what your guests will see and where you’ll walk down the aisle.

Choose marquee style

When it comes to marquee weddings, one of the funnest things to do is decide what style of marquee you want. There are numerous options out there, all of which can be personalised to fit your wedding dreams. A few of the most common include:

  • Traditional Marquees – These vintage-esque coverings are probably the marquee you immediately think of. They are normally made from a high-strength canvas and can be styled with or without linings.
  • Frame Marquees – These are brilliant for those seeking a larger, open plan space. They have a modular design which is draped in canvas and can be erected on any surface.
  • Canvas Marquees – These are truly elegant. They have a unique petal pole shape with stretched canvas and are the ideal choice for quintessential English wedding themes.
  • Stretch Tents – Also known as Bedouin-Style Stretch Marquees, this option is less formal. It can be used to cover wedding ceremonies and offers both side up or side down options.
  • Tipi – Erected with a handmade timber frame, giant tipis have a striking look – both inside and outside.
  • Pagoda or Chinese Hat Marquees – With their curved and pointed roofs, these marquees can be used alongside traditional and frame styles too. They are ideal for smaller coverings, such as a children’s play area or more relaxed spot.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect marquee, you’ll have a better understanding of the space available for the big day.

Consider the practicalities

Traditional wedding locations normally take care of the finer details for you. However, if you’re considering a marquee wedding, you’ll want to focus on those details even more closely. Make sure there is clear access around your marquee and on the location site to allow suppliers to maneuver their equipment in. Do you need to hire toilets or do you have enough to accommodate your guests? Will you need to hire a generator as a power source or can you find one locally? Do you have enough parking for all guests? What is your system for disposal of waste during and after the wedding? Smaller points such as these help to ensure your day goes off without a hitch.

Consider the theme

Themes are an area of wedding planning where you can go all out. There are no limits – whatever best expresses your love and interests as a couple can be transformed into the perfect wedding setting. Some of the predicted popular trends for 2020 include Desert Chic, Moroccan, Garden Party, Movie Wedding and Princess. Pinterest is also the perfect place to find themes and explore how these can be transformed visually into your marquee. Equally, a wedding planning or marquee planning company can help you design accessories, decorations and smaller favours that thread your chosen theme throughout your day.

Purchase Insurance

This point counts for all weddings – marquee or traditional. Getting the right insurance helps to protect your finances, giving you security when parting with large sums of money. Alongside basic Wedding Insurance, couples considering a marquee wedding need to purchase Marquee Cover. This will cover everything from accidental damage, fire damage and equipment such as dance floors, furniture and mobile toilets. A simple search on Google will bring you many companies that offer these insurance policies so make sure to shop around.

Check out all the legal points

Marquee weddings are unique and therefore, come with their own legal requirements. For example, wedding ceremonies can only take place in a permanent structure with a solid roof. For this reason, you can’t legally say ‘I Do’ under a marquee but they are the perfect location for receptions. It also pays to look up the guidance for Food Hygiene and Safety to understand the most appropriate placement of toilets in relation to the catering equipment. Understanding the legal sides of hosting a marquee wedding is vital.

Choose your bridal/groom party

Identifying the people you want to help you on the big day is both exciting and important. Make sure you are 100% sure on your list before popping the question. Choose people you know will help and support you at all times. Consider brothers and sisters on both sides and take into account the number of guests you expect to attend. All of these points will help you create a bridal party to be proud of.

Drill down your guest list

If you’re not careful, a wedding guest list can get out of control. Do you invite your mum’s cousin’s sister’s best friend? Or do you focus right in and just invite the people you’ve seen in the last 6 months? Don’t feel obliged to invite relatives you haven’t seen in years or your ‘old’ best friend from primary school – remember, you’ll have to pay for everyone you invite. Once you have your guest list, it will get easier to plan the other important parts.

Research and find wedding suppliers

Another big step in your planning is finding your wedding suppliers. Largely, most traditional wedding florists, makeup artists and photographers can tailor their skills to suit marquee weddings. However, with suppliers like caterers, make sure they have the right equipment to prepare and serve food away from a permanent structure. And, if hiring a DJ, ensure they too can set up their speakers etc using power sources rather than specialist machinery that requires specific installation settings.

Find the perfect dress and accessories

The bit that every bride is waiting for – choosing The Dress. Set your budget early on and make sure you give yourself as much time before the big day to shop around. Most wedding dress suppliers ask for 9-12 months to ensure specialist orders and alterations can be made in time. Research the style of dress you think you want but make sure to keep an open mind. That princess gown may not turn out to be the one after all. It’s also worth noting that more bridal dress shops require you to book an appointment rather than just turning up. It’s worth contacting a number of places to find what works best for you.

Create your wedding day schedule

For your own sanity and for the enjoyment of your guests, it’s important to plan your wedding timeline exactly. Start with the time of your ceremony which will be set in stone and work around this. The best way to approach a project like this is to write a list of all the main events, such as your first dance, wedding breakfast and family photography. Roughly jot down the perfect day and how long you expect each event to take – that way, you won’t overrun and can sit back to enjoy every second.

Send out your Save the Date/Wedding Invitations

Send your Save The Dates around 4 months in advance to give people time to plan. If you’re planning on a destination wedding, extend this to 9-10 months. Remember, it takes planning for people to attend a whole day affair so this will help to ensure the people you love the most are there. Traditionally, you should send your wedding invites out around 8 weeks before the wedding. Choose stationary you love and ones that fit the rest of your wedding theme too – remember, some people may keep your invitations as a keepsake so you want it to be special.

Create table plan

Marquee weddings allow you to be entirely flexible with the layout of the wedding breakfast. There are a whole host of different table styles to choose from. Round tables can come in diameters up to 6ft and are the perfect way to encourage guests to socialise. Alternatively, trestle tables have a regal feel to them and provide a sense of whimsical beauty. Half moon tables are an ideal choice for top tables while our teak garden sets allow your guests to enjoy the scenery too. Once you’ve chosen your table, it’s time to work out where everyone will sit. Some top tips include keeping your best friends close and organising everyone by groups. Kids-only tables are a great option for family weddings but avoid singles tables as these can get awkward. Our Marquee Planner is the perfect tool for this, allowing you to create a fully visual layout of your marquee which we can work with right up until the day. It’s also a brilliant way to receive a quote, speeding up the planning process.

Marquee weddings are becoming more and more popular. That’s why the team here at South West Marquees are always on hand to help you find the marquee of your wedding dreams. Get in contact today and let us do all the hard work.