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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Snowden

How to get the lighting right for your marquee wedding

"I would never have overhead lighting. In my apartment in New York, it's all recessed lighting, chandeliers and candles. (Overhead) lighting is abusive."

No one understands the importance of good lighting more than the Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey, who famously has her people come in before any meeting or interview to set up lighting that better suits her.

While your wedding marquee may not be the NYC apartment of a megastar, that doesn't mean you shouldn't take inspiration from the high pitched goddess. For on your wedding day, you are the A-lister and your wedding marquee is your pleasure palace. It should reflect you and all your beautiful friends and family in the best possible light as well as set the mood for fun, romance and the biggest party of your life.

Here at Peacock and Bow, we're not about to let you settle for 'toxic lighting' as Mariah puts it. So, in this week's blog we're going to illuminate all the marquee lighting options available and provide some lightbulb moments by answering the most common wedding marquee lighting related questions.

What's the best lighting for a marquee?

Natural light

If there's one thing marquees are amazing for (there's not, there are lots of things actually) its making the most of the natural light. The crisp white canvas works like a light-box, letting the rays filter through to immerse you and your guests in a Mariah approved radiant glow.

The transparent walls let in the daylight and you can roll them away entirely to really let the outdoors in. When you have a marquee wedding, you don't have to use one watt of energy on lighting until the golden hour starts to fade. That's when the transformation happens and your marquee becomes an incandescent beacon that draws everyone inside.

Inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee a bartender tosses a spirit bottle in the air as the sunlight streams in

Fairy lights

Also known as string lights or pea lamps, fairy lights are an enduring favourite for teenage bedrooms, student houses and weddings alike. You just can't go wrong with fairy lights, they twinkle above us and ignite a magical feeling. Maybe the fact that fairy lights shine so brightly everywhere at Christmas is the reason for the joy they spark, who knows? We just know that they help to add even more wow factor to our beautiful wedding marquees.

Most fairy lights are LED, meaning they're energy saving and won't get hot. They come in all colours but we prefer warm white for an atmospheric glow.

So, how do you hang fairy lights in a marquee? We think the most effective way to hang fairy lights in a pole and canvas marquee is to use the star formation, so they radiate out from the centre king pole and highlight the majestic swoops of the canvas canopy.

Inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee a bride and groom kiss on the dancefloor underneath the vast canvas canopy that is lit up with fairy lights.

Festoon lighting

Festoon lighting is a trendy way to light up your marquee wedding and achieve a vintage look, plus it's a marquee wedding trend that's here to stay. Festoons bring a sense of nostalgia, they're reminiscent of 1950's fairgrounds and that traditional Americana aesthetic. The word 'festoon' refers to the garland like shape the lights make when hung between two points. This 'swag' perfectly compliments the sweeping lines of our pole and canvas marquees.

Festoon lights can be used inside the marquee and outdoors, even in the rain, to light walkways and chill out areas. They look stunning when supported by our giant shepherd's crooks or paired up with fairy lights, if these furnishings could talk, they'd be saying 'We belong together'. Our festoon lights are LED so they save energy and their translucent plastic cases perfectly imitate the traditional glass bulbs without the worry of them getting too hot or breaking.

Festoon lights hung on giant shepherd's crooks light a walkway through a meadow in the Cotswolds.


Achieve timeless glamour and elegance while creating impact by using decadent chandeliers to light up your marquee and transform it into a luxurious ballroom fit for a Disney Princess. Is it an overhead light though? Mariah gives the chandelier a pass as the ornamental features diffuse the light, so it doesn't become oppressive. Chandeliers can be hired for marquee weddings or you can install repurposed vintage ones.

Inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee round tables are set for a special celebration and flower rings and chandeliers hang above in the vast canopy space.


Uplighters can be positioned around the outside or inside edge of the marquee. They can be placed against a feature, such as a tree, to illuminate it as night falls. We use battery-operated uplighters that are portable and can be used inside or outside. This gives you complete control over the lighting; if you don't like it you can simply move it to a different location without having to faff around with cables.

Are candles allowed inside a wedding marquee?

Thin ones, thick ones, round ones, tall ones, colourful ones, smelly ones, we love candles. Ever since Celine Dion (another legendary diva, yes...and?) wandered through a castle in a floaty white nightie surrounded by naked flames in 'It's all coming back to me' (yes, we're still listening to that masterpiece in 2024), we can't escape their romantic allure.

Whether or not candles are allowed in a wedding marquee is down to the marquee hire company. We do allow them and will work with you or your planner to ensure they're used with care and thought.

Inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee a trestle table is dressed with floral centrepieces and tall taper candles.

How much lighting will I need for my wedding marquee?

This really depends on the size of the marquee and your own personal preferences. A portion of the lighting will be required, such as walkways and service tent lighting, then you can add on optional extra cosmetic lighting to create the right ambiance for you. A marquee hire company will be able to guide you on the options and marquee lighting costs.

Is lighting included in the marquee hire price?

Most marquee companies would include a mid range lighting package in their quote but it's definitely worth checking this before committing to anything. At Peacock and Bow, our marquee hire guide prices are inclusive of internal fairy lights and external flying lights, that hang above the canopy and create an eye catching skyline. If you'd like to discuss additional lighting options, get in touch and we'd be happy to provide a bespoke quote.

How do I light the outdoor areas for a marquee wedding?

Whether you want to create an enchanting woodland walk or simply light the way to the loos, we have loads of wedding lighting ideas for outdoors. From flood lights to festoons and flying lights shining bright against the night sky to projections and drone shows, it's all possible.

A glowing Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee stands majestically alongside a country house which is lit with floodlights.

Are the wedding marquee lights dimmable?

Oh yes they are if you choose a Peacock and Bow wedding marquee. So, when it's time for that first dance you can turn the lights down low and get everybody feeling Emotions.

What other types of marquee lighting are available for a wedding?

Pendant lights

Expand on the natural materials of of our pole and canvas marquees by using wicker light shades or ramp up the quirkiness with some mismatched vintage shades. Careful with how you place these though, you might be stepping into 'abusive overhead lighting' territory.

Filament bulbs

Go industrial retro chic with LED filament bulbs. These energy saving beauts look, well...lit when hung from aerial floral arrangements.

Paper lanterns

Dot these around the canopy to add pops of colour amid the vast white canopy.

Inside a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee a bride and groom are lifted on their guest's shoulders as lanterns and fairy lights illuminate the high canopy above them.

Starcloth linings

For a bit glitz and glam you can opt for starcloth in your marquee, also know as starlight lining or night sky cloths. These linings can technically fit any type of marquee but we think they work best in a clear span marquee and wouldn't recommend them for a pole and canvas marquee.

Effect lighting

Take your Grandma back to the 1970's with disco balls, Get your dad reaching for the lasers once more and create a Vision of love with bespoke projections.

Lighting rigs

Light up the stage as your entertainment gets everybody up on their feet. Most wedding bands will have their own lighting rig. Here at Peacock and Bow, we're always happy to work with your other suppliers to make sure all equipment is installed safely and effectively.

Backdrop lights

Add even more sparkle to the top table or create a red carpet worthy photo area. (Hint - we can also provide the red carpet)

A bride and groom embrace in a tunnel of fairy lights.

Hopefully by now you're clued up on all the options and can start making plans for your own wedding marquee lighting ideas. Always remember to channel the Songbird Supreme herself and have your shades at the ready, just in case!

"I have a rule which states that I will not be seen in fluorescent lighting without sunglasses"

We don't think we're being divas when we say that our exquisite pole and canvas marquees look absolutely spectacular aglow with the right lighting combination. If you'd like a quote that includes your perfect illuminations, get in touch and Let Peacock and Bow be the Hero that brings you and your Dream lover's sweet sweet fantasy to life.


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