Tips for Styling a Marquee Wedding Venue - The Hill Farm House
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Tips for Styling a Marquee Wedding Venue

A marquee is a popular option for a wedding venue because it can easily be customised to fit exactly the look, style, and theme that you want for your wedding day. A marquee is essentially a blank canvas that you can design however you want without having to work around old-fashioned carpeting, hard wooden benches, or clashing colour schemes that can be found in permanent building venues. You also have more options available to you concerning the location as your marquee wedding venue can be set up just about anywhere there is room for them (though there are some considerations which should be taken into account). They also provide all of the charm of an outdoor wedding while still incorporating the best elements of an indoor wedding such as shelter from the sun, wind, and rain, and a more controlled, comfortable area for decorating and celebrating.

With all of these things going for them, it’s easy to see why marquees are such a popular wedding venue choice. There is a potential downside to all the creative freedom though; it can be easy to get lost in all of the options. If you like the idea of a marquee wedding but feel intimidated by all the blank space and don’t know where to start, here are a few tips to help you turn your marquee into the venue of your dreams:

Styling an Outdoor Marquee Wedding Venue - The Hill Farm House

1. Start with the Practicalities

When choosing where you want your wedding to take place and how you are going to style it, it’s important to start with the practicalities. This may not be as fun as jumping straight into the designing, but if your location doesn’t have certain necessities your guests will be miserable no matter how nice your wedding looks. Additionally, the location you choose can have an impact on the size and shape of marquee you have to work with when it comes to decorating, and may influence what kinds of lights, furniture, and sound system options you have.

Here are a few things you should have in your checklist for when viewing locations:

  • Power options
  • Washroom facilities
  • Water supplies
  • Heating/cooling options (depending on the weather)
  • Accessibility for delivery and catering vehicles
  • Parking options


It’s important to know what kind of power supply you will have access to and if it can handle all of your needs including things like lights, a sound system, and any cooling units needed for things like food or drinks. You’ll also want nice, clean facilities nearby for your guests. It’s also important to plan to use fans to keep the air moving in the hot summer months, and possibly heaters if your wedding will go late into the night or is held during the autumn months. The land will need to be accessible by trucks so you are not trying to haul the tent and all the supplies to the set-up site by hand. You’ll also want to make sure there is adequate parking close enough to the venue location that your guests aren’t forced to engage in a little pre-festivities hiking to reach their destination.

2. Plan a Big Entrance

To get the biggest impact out of your carefully-styled marquee you should start creating the atmosphere from the moment your guests arrive on-site. One way to do this is by having beautifully designed signs point the way to the parking lot, the facilities, the marquee, and any outdoor socialising stations you may setup. Enhance these signs with lights, flowers, ribbons, or other decor that conveys the style of the event.

For example, burlap bows and daises around wooden signposts set the feel for a rustic wedding early on. White signposts, black lanterns, and more formal flowers that match your colour scheme such as roses or lilies – or even a nicely designed miniature wreath – can create an elegant feel from the start.

You should also style the walkway leading to the venue in a way that grabs attention and sets the mood. Lighting of some kind should definitely be involved, especially if you guests will be arriving or leaving after dark. Fairy lights strung between poles, Edison bulbs, and lanterns are all great options depending on the style you’re going for. Lining the sides of the walkway – or the walkway itself – with flowers, decorations, or even a red carpet down the middle is a great way to funnel the festivities to the marquee and get your guests in the proper mood all at the same time.

3. Make the Most of Your Furniture

Of course, you’ll want to make wise choices with basic furniture such as the tables, chairs, and serving stations. Choose options that will compliment your theme but will still be comfortable, practical, and of course big enough to hold all the decorations and food items that you will need them to.

In addition to the basic furniture need for a wedding, though, you should also make the most of your space by incorporating pieces of actual furniture into strategic areas in your marquee. For example, set up a corner with some nice wingback chairs and a stylish loveseat where people can take pictures or sit and chat away from their assigned tables. Having individually designed stations and set-aside lounge areas will help you define and make the most of the space. These kinds of stations will also give you the chance to enhance your style and themes even more and will provide more entertainment and activities for your guests. Remember: the furniture you choose should be both practical and decorative for the best effect.

When choosing furniture and designing areas such as dessert, lounging, and guestbook stations be sure to pick pieces that can contribute to the style you’re trying to achieve. For example, darker woods can add sophistication and warmth and can have a more classic effect. Lighter and unfinished wood can look more rustic or organic. Metal tends to be more contemporary or industrial, depending on the design of the piece and how you incorporate it into the setting. Coloured pieces of furniture are a great way to bring your colour scheme to the very corners and edges of your space. This will not only enhance the overall look of the area, but by drawing the eye out, it will help make your marquee feel bigger and make the most of the space you have to work with.

Marquee wedding venue styling - The Hill Farm House

4. Use the Drama of the High Ceilings to Your Advantage

Most marquee styles will come with high vaulted ceilings in order to let air flow properly and to allow the tent to be big enough for your needs. Don’t overlook the design potential in this empty space! Anything that causes one to look up – from tall mountains to vaulting cathedral ceilings to skyscrapers – automatically instils the viewer with a sense of awe.

To achieve this feel in your wedding venue you should create dramatic ceiling pieces that can draw the eye upward and add a feeling of height and drama to the venue. One way to accomplish this is through the use of a single large statement piece in the middle of the tent or over the main table with smaller complimentary fixtures hung throughout the rest of the tent. Alternatively, you can place a statement piece over each of the reception tables, over different stations, or simply strategically placed in a pattern throughout the room.

These ceiling statement pieces could be anything from wreathes made of vines, shrubbery, and flowers for the more natural look to crystal chandeliers for a more elegant affect. Fairy lights draped with long swatches of tulle or a lightweight material in white or a complimentary colour across the ceiling can make the place feel cozier and ethereal at the same time. Working lights into your overhead decor is a great idea, but is not a necessity – circular fixtures made of driftwood, vines, and flowers can work just as well for you space as industrial lanterns or a rustic chandelier.

While enhancing height can add drama to the space, it’s possible you may want to bring the ceiling lower to the tables to create a more intimate setting. To do this use several ceiling installations of similar size and shape that have a flat profile on the ground-facing side (think wreaths or square/rectangular vine-covered pieces instead of chandeliers). Place them at regular intervals throughout the tent, though they shouldn’t necessarily be touching. This will allow you to incorporate décor elements into the overhead space while creating the illusion of a shorter ceiling without making the space feel too crowded.

5. Choose the Right Flooring

Flooring is a detail most people don’t think about when it comes to wedding planning, but it can have a big impact on your space, especially in a marquee wedding. Some marquee tents will come with flooring while some won’t. Going with a natural grass floor to add texture and a natural effect may be a good option in the warmer months, especially if you are going for a more rustic feel. If you want a different style, though, it may be a good idea to choose a different flooring option, especially if your wedding is going to be an elegant affair. You don’t want your guest’s nice shoes getting muddy or any high heels sinking into the ground when people are trying to dance!

Speaking of, even in a more nature-themed wedding, having a dance floor with a hard, even surface may be a good idea simply for the practicality and added safety of not having footwear get caught in the ground which could potentially result in an accident. It’s also not a good look to have a random open, empty space in your marquee that is meant to serve as a natural dance floor. Throwing some flooring down in the spot will make the space feel intentional instead of overlooked or underused.

Solid wood flooring is a nice way to add warmth and a practical walking surface without drawing too much attention if you want your floors to be understated. Black and white or marble-looking floors can really turn the elegance factor up a notch in a fancier wedding. For a cosier look, especially in the colder months, area rugs can add style and texture as well as comfort. Even if you wedding isn’t taking place when the cold might be a factor, some well-placed area rugs under book signing or drink stations – or especially in designated lounge areas – can really help define the space and make your individual stations feel self-contained while still flowing nicely into the rest of your marquee and helping the overall venue feel larger.

The bottom line is, when it comes to styling your marquee wedding venue, anything goes as long as it makes you happy. This is your special day, and your venue should reflect you and your spouse and be a celebration of the beginning of the rest of your lives together. These tips will help guide you in the right direction, but ultimately the decision is yours. Get creative; make the most of your blank canvas and turn it into the perfect backdrop for making wonderful memories you will have for the rest of your life.

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