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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Snowden

Giant hat tipi tent or pole and canvas marquee, which is right for you?

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

If you’re planning a wedding or another big event, the first thing you need to lock down is usually the venue. If you already know that banquet halls, country clubs and hotel ballrooms aren’t your vibe, you may be deliberating over what type of outdoor event structure is right for you.

If you want something unique and jaw droppingly stunning, you might find yourself torn between two popular choices, giant hat tipi tent or pole and canvas marquee.

Both structures are fun, different, quirky and packed with wow factor, but they also differ greatly in how they look and how well they will work for your event. In this week’s blog we’re going to look at how giant hat tipi tents and pole and canvas marquees compare across several factors and give you some practical tips to help you decide between the two.

What are pole and canvas marquees?

I meeeean, what aren’t pole and canvas marquees?! Also known as traditional marquees, they are formed of a natural cotton canvas canopy that is supported by wooden poles. They are sublime in their simplicity and can be styled to suit any vision. Our pole and canvas marquees are manufactured by Wills Marquees. From their workshop in Yorkshire, master crafts people use time honoured techniques and the finest materials to create these quintessentially British beauties.

A peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee set up in a field surrounded by trees. The sun is shining and the sky is blue with a few fluffy white clouds

What are tipi tents?

Tipi can also be spelt teepee or tepee, but we’ll stick with tipi, because it's quicker to type. These tents are made up of conical shaped ‘hats’ formed of tan coloured canvas and a wooden pole structure. The sides can be raised, which makes it possible to connect a number of tipis and create a single larger space. All manner of configurations are possible, and there’s no limit to the number of tents that can be linked together. Whether you’re having an intimate party, a big white wedding or a corporate event for 1000 or more, there’s a configuration of tipis that will work for you.

The giant tipi tents we see used for weddings and events are derived from the tipis used as homes by indigenous people. As such they are linked with cultural appropriation and can be problematic. Be sure the manufacturer and supplier are respectful of the origins and history of their tipi tents and that you yourself understand the cultural significance before deciding whether or not to use one.

A giant hat tipi tent at night, strung with festoon lights. People mingle inside
Photo credit - Peter Majdan

The look and feel

Let’s face it, when choosing where to hold a wedding or a special celebration, most of us are guided by form over function. You might find the most practical venue in the world, but if it ain't pretty, it ain't happening, right? If you have a vision for the look and feel of your event, you’ll be hunting for the right venue to fit that vision, and not worrying about things like parking and travel time until later.

When it comes to aesthetics, both tipis and pole and canvas marquees have style for days! Tipis bring a boho festival atmosphere and are popular for rustic weddings. They can liven up the driest of corporate events and provide a laid back ambiance for yoga retreats.

Whatever’s on your mood board, a pole and canvas marquee is the perfect blank canvas. They can be styled to suit any theme from timeless elegance, to modern cool, to summer garden party, to rustic festival, to vintage chic. The possibilities are endless.

One of the best things about tipis and pole and canvas marquees is that both make a statement and look fantastic completely unstyled.

See the light

Natural light is one of the biggest differentiators with tipis and pole and canvas marquees. Where pole and canvas marquees are light and airy, the darker colour of the tipi canvas and closed sides means less light gets in.

The natural light filtering in through the crisp white canopy and open sides, or clear walls is often the thing that makes people fall in love with pole and canvas marquees. They then fall even harder when the sun goes down and the canopy takes on its magical glow. It really is something special that you and your guests will always remember.

Inside a a peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee. People are seated at round tables with wooden cross back chairs. Dressed flower rings hang around the king poles and daylight streams in through the canopy, the open sides and the clear side walls

Hotting up and cooling down

A feature unique to tipis is the ability to have a fire pit or a fireplace inside thanks to the venting at the top of the structure. This will keep guests nice and cosy and adds bags of atmosphere.

An AI generated image of the inside of a tipi tent with a fire pit surrounded by seating
AI generated image

A major advantage of pole and canvas marquees is that you can easily roll the sides away yourself, handy if you get four seasons in one day, not uncommon in the UK. With tipis, however, you need to decide whether to have the sides up or down before the tipi is set up. It will then have to stay that way throughout the event.

Size and configuration matters

The size of the pole and canvas marquee or tipi tent is normally determined by the number of dining guests. It is also affected by what extras you want to include such as chill out areas, photo booths and fire pits for example.

Our pole and canvas marquees are available in a range of sizes and we can create the perfect party space by adding marquees connected with colonnades. The shape of the pole and canvas marquees, which can be called a stadium, pill shape, oblong, sausage body, or my personal favourite, discorectangle, is highly versatile and can work well with a variety of different layouts.

two large peacock and bow pole and canvas marquees set up by a lake. hay bales are laid out in three horseshoe shapes and draped with fabric to provide seating. People gather in front of the marquees. Behind them are vehicles, service tents and luxury portable loos

Tipis start with a single hat setup, then connecting kits are used to add more hats until you have the desired amount of space. Once you have three or more hats you can start to create different configurations to suit the internal layout or the site itself.

Where’s the party?

If the location you’ve chosen for your wedding or event happens to be a little slice of paradise, you’re going to want to make the most of the surroundings and views. Pole and canvas marquees blend in beautifully in most settings from coastal locations to the grounds of historic houses, to a meadow, to your own back garden. Their 360 degree clear walls give panoramic views whatever the weather, so if you’ve got a particularly picturesque location and you want to bring the outside in, pole and canvas marquees are for you.

The view of a beautiful hazy English countryside from inside a peacock and bow pole and canvas marquee. The view is framed by the canopy and side poles of the marquee

Tipis are visually unique and make a statement wherever they are placed. They can stand out at a festival or transform an industrial or inner city site. While some tipi tents also offer clear walls, they are not panoramic and so you won’t get the same views as you would with a pole and canvas marquee. But if you want to create an experience where guests will walk in and feel completely transported from the real world outside, tipis are a great option.

The wow factor

Both pole and canvas marquees and tipis have the wow factor in droves. If you want to create a space for your wedding or special event that is unique, breathtaking and unforgettable, you can’t go wrong with either of these stunning structures.

It really depends on your own personal taste and style, Tipis offer a very specific aesthetic, whereas pole and canvas marquees are more versatile and compatible with any style or theme.

Choosing a giant hat tipi tent or a pole and canvas marquee

Hopefully you now know what to expect when hiring a tipi or a pole and canvas marquee. But if you’re still torn between the two, here are some tips to help you choose.

  • Think about the decor you would like, what ideas you’ve had or things you’ve seen that you like, how would they look in a tipi versus a pole and canvas marquee?

  • Consider your overall vision and ask yourself, would choosing a tipi over a marquee bring you closer to that vision or push you further away?

  • What time of year will your wedding or special occasion take place? Summer means longer days and beautiful sunsets, whereas winter will be darker and you’ll want to create a warm and cosy atmosphere. Which structure is best suited to the season?

More tips to help you plan your giant hat tipi or pole and canvas marquee wedding

  • Consider every last detail of your wedding or event and find out how much of it can be supplied or accommodated by your marquee or tipi hire company

  • If you’re using caterers, find out if they supply cutlery, plates, napkins etc. Will they provide bins for waste, how about glassware?

  • Do you need a planner to take care of the decoration and coordinate suppliers or do you have time to do it yourself?

  • Write down everything you think you need or should have in your wedding or event and then cross out anything that doesn’t reflect yours and your partner's style and personalities or doesn't align with the aim of the event

  • Have the best fun doing it

If you’re trying to decide if a pole and canvas marquee is right for you and you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help with any information you need.

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