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Tips for requesting land for your dream marquee wedding

Updated: Jan 18

So you’re engaged, hurrah! Congratulations! The first thing on most newly engaged couples’ minds is where they’ll get married. If you already know you want a marquee wedding you're probably scrolling through your contacts for someone with a big enough garden or land you can beg, steal or borrow to put up your marquee.

If you’re getting married in a rural or agricultural area like our home base of Lincolnshire (shout out to the yellow bellys!) you’ll have plenty of farmland around you that will make the perfect setting for your dream marquee wedding. But how to go about getting the landowner to let you use it? And, how do you make sure your wedding doesn't culminate in the farmer running at you and your guests with a raised pitchfork shouting ‘get off my land!’ (apologies to any farming readers for the cliché.)

Well dear nearly-weds, we have the answer! We’ve gathered some intel from farmers with experience of hiring or lending their land for marquee weddings and events. We’ve compiled our findings into this useful guide. So, read on to find out how to approach the conversation when you ask a farmer to hold your wedding on their land.

A Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee set up in a field. In the foreground hay bales  sit around a fire pit

What are the legal implications of your marquee wedding for the landowner and you?

The main concern for all parties is likely to be what are the legal implications for both the farmer and the couple? Here’s what you need to know to stay on the right side of the law.

  • Marquees can usually be erected without planning permission for up to 28 days per year

  • Temporary Event Notices (TEN) will be needed to cover anyone carrying out a ‘licensable activity’ such as selling alcohol and providing entertainment. There are some restrictions to TENs such as the event should have fewer than 500 people at all times, including staff, and the event should last no more than 168 hours. That’s seven days in non bureaucratic speak. To obtain a TEN you will have to go through your local council and pay a fee of £21

  • If you are planning to have your legal marriage ceremony in the marquee or outside on the surrounding land, the local council must give a ‘grant of approval’. These last for three years. The cost varies according to each council. For example, in Lincolnshire, you would pay £1500, in Cambridgeshire its £1900, and in Bromley, with its 30% farmland making it the most rural borough in London, the fee is £1250

  • Although not legally mandatory, it would be a good idea to draw up a comprehensive wedding contract, which makes it clear what you and the farmer are agreeing to, what each party is responsible for and details of any payments to be made if you are hiring the land for a fee

What information will the farmer need to be able to make a decision?

Most farmers or landowners considering lending or hiring their land for a marquee event are going to need specific reassurances. They don’t want to inadvertently host an all night rave by their backdoor. Be very clear about what the event is, what format it will take, start and finish times and guest numbers. The farmer may want to meet the marquee supplier. If you were to choose Peacock and Bow, we always carry out a site visit and would be happy to speak with the landowner about what’s involved.

A coit matting walkway leads up to a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee. The walkway is lined with festoon lights hung on giant shepherds crooks. Barrels, milk churns and floral arrangements markthe walkway

Is the land suitable for a marquee wedding?

The marquee site will need to be fairly level and free of obstructions such as trees or overhead wires. Marquees are anchored with long metal stakes, so it’s important to know if there are any underground services such as cables or pipes. If the farmer is in any doubt, they may ask you to pay for a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) scan. You can hire these tools out for around £100 a day. Or you can enlist a CAT Scanning service to do it for you.

How will the site be accessed?

You will need to address how your suppliers and guests will access the site. We heard from a farmer who had agreed to let his neighbours access his land through a hole they'd cut in their garden hedge. The contractors were able to carry all the kit through this access point and it then became an enchanting secret door for guests to access the marquee through. It was agreed in advance that the neighbours would be responsible for reinstating their garden hedge and the stock proof fence.

Two blue tractors in a field adorned with white wedding car ribbon

Will the farmer be covered if anything goes wrong?

The farmer or landowner will want to ensure they are not held responsible for any damage to equipment, or people for that matter. So, they will require proof that all suppliers have the correct insurance including public liability. They might even want to take out separate cover with you paying the premium. Make sure you consider this when totalling up your marquee wedding costs.

Consider the neighbours

Noise could be a concern, so you might have to agree to a cut off point to prevent things going on all night and getting the farmer into trouble with the neighbours!

Having a smashing time

Glass could be another issue. At weddings, as the party gets in full swing, people do tend to wander about outside and leave their glasses lying around. Broken glass could cause a risk to any animals that graze the land, so you may have to offer a solution there. Fortunately, you can now get premium plastic glasses that look just as good as the real thing. If you don't believe me, check out these crystal look champagne flutes from Lakeland or these colourful gin glasses from M&S.

The morning after the night before

The farmer could ask for a deposit to cover any issues after the event, primarily clearing up including refuse disposal. They don't want to be left picking up cigarette butts, bagging up the litter and disposing of the empties. Plastic confetti could pose a hazard, especially if they make hay later in the year. It's almost impossible to pick up, so might be a big no-no for the farmer.

A path lit with festoon lights hung on giant shepherds crooks leads to a Peacock & Bow pole & canvas wedding marquee in a barley field

What about lost crops?

If the land you’re wanting to plonk a massive tent on is normally used to grow crops, how will you mitigate any losses to the farmer? We heard from one farmer who had agreed to loan an area of land for a marquee wedding. It was decided that he would drill and grow the spring barley crop as normal. The wedding team would then strim as big an area as they wanted. The farmer then calculated the lost yield from the area afterwards.

What are the benefits to the farmer?

Well, if they’re charging you a fee there’s monetary gain obviously, and who knows, maybe they’ll reimburse you the approved premises grant fee and start a new business as a wedding venue!

The same farmer who was to recoup his spring barley crop losses said “the newly weds and their family were incredibly grateful and insisted on bringing a case of wine round as a thank you beforehand. When I worked out the cost of the crop losses I was surprised that it only came to about £30. I told the couple to donate it to a charity of their choice.” He went on to say “The goodwill it generated has been enormous and it was no bother to me really.”

A Peacock & Bow pole & canvas wedding marquee in a grassy field with wildflowers in the foreground and trees and hills in the background.

If you have a friendly neighbouring farmer willing to lend or hire their land for your dream marquee wedding, contact us today and book one of our beautifully simple and rustic pole and canvas marquees for your perfect outdoor wedding.

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