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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Snowden

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Marquee

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Are you planning a wedding, milestone birthday party, celebration, or a family get together? You can create the perfect venue for you and your guests with a marquee in a stunning location, be it a stately home or the grounds of your own property.

If you have your heart set on a marquee for your special event the first step is to find the right marquee hire company, sounds fairly straightforward, right? But, type ‘marquee hire company near me’ into Google and you will see that there is an overwhelming choice out there, it's enough to make your head spin like a disco ball!

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you work out your wish list, ask the right questions, and make the right choice when hiring a marquee for your wedding or event.

A disco ball lighting up a pole and canvas marquee with a wedding party dancing beneath it

What do you need to hire a marquee for and where will it be?

The first thing to consider is what type of event you’re holding and how the marquee will be used.

Many marquee hire companies specialise in one area such as weddings or corporate events.

So, it's important to choose a company that has experience in the type of event you want to hire a marquee for.

Marquee hire guide for weddings and parties

A marquee brings laid back luxe and is a great choice for weddings and parties. Weddings usually consist of three phases:

  1. The ceremony

  2. The seated reception

  3. The evening party

The requirements of each phase will need to be planned for as they often involve different guest numbers and activities.

Choosing a marquee hire company for a party is similar to choosing a wedding marquee. The biggest difference might be if you want a specific theme for your party or whether or not it's seated dining.

Marquee hire for conferences, exhibitions and corporate events

Marquee hire for corporate events often feature stages, product displays, break out rooms and social spaces, which all need to be taken into account along with the number of delegates attending.

Make sure your marquee supplier offers flexibility as your corporate event may involve challenges. For example, we provided one of our stunning marquees for a high end corporate event for Westminster Abbey, it was held in their historic College Garden, thought to be the oldest garden in England. This 900 year old venue had many rules and regulations that required an outstanding level of professionalism and agility, which we’re proud to say we delivered on.

A pole and canvas marquee in a sunny field surrounded by trees

Marquee hire location

Most marquee hire companies operate within a set geographical area.

For instance, here at Peacock and Bow we cover Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and London.

You can drastically narrow your search by focusing on suppliers within the location of your event. We can connect you with our partners operating in other areas who provide the same beautiful Wills Marquees as we do.

The site you choose for your marquee will need to meet a few basic requirements. For example, our pole and canvas marquees require a fairly level lawned area, free from overhead trees and underground services. Your chosen site will need to tick these boxes.

What to look for when hiring a marquee

Now we’ve covered the requirements for different types of marquee events. Let’s look at the ten most important factors to consider and the questions you should be asking when choosing a marquee hire company.

1. Size and capacity

Trying to work out how big a marquee you need can feel like taking a shot in the dark, but all you need to do is consider the following factors;

Once you have these aspects locked in, you can work out your space requirements, use these rules of thumb to get started;

  • For a buffet or cocktail event you will need a minimum of eight square feet per person

  • For a seated event at round tables you will need a minimum of 15 square feet per person

  • You will need to add on space for extras

The marquee size also depends on what your chosen site can accommodate. At Peacock and Bow we happily come out and visit your location so we can advise what size marquee is best suited for your celebration.

As a guide, let’s say you’re planning tables of ten, a bar, catering, a band or DJ, and dance floor, we would recommend our following marquees:

A father walks his daughter, the bride, down the natural coir matting covered aisle inside a pole and canvas ceremony marquee while the congregation stands by their wooden cross back chairs looking on on

2. Type of marquee

Marquees come in all shapes and sizes.

A high-quality marquee hire company should be able to advise you on the type of marquee that would best suit your needs.

Modern marquees are often clear-span, which means there are no supporting pillars in the middle. This style is good for maximising space and offers flexibility when it comes to design. Another common type of marquee is the pagoda, which can be stand-alone or form an entrance.

If PVC isn’t your thing, some traditional marquees are made of canvas, but not all. Quite often companies describe themselves as offering a traditional pole and canvas sailcloth marquee. This can be misleading as rather than a canvas product, they are actually referring to modern plastic sailcloth. We may be biassed but we think traditional wooden pole and real canvas marquees have an extra special quality that can elevate your event to a level of timeless elegance.

What style should I choose?

Many marquee hire companies will have a range of marquee types you can choose from such as gazebos, clearspan marquees, capri marquees, tipis and stretch tents. At Peacock and Bow, we specialise in traditional pole and canvas marquees in a range of sizes as follows:

  • For a small gathering you can hire our 7.3 x 18.3 metre marquee, Ideal for ceremonies, reception drinks or any intimate gathering

  • Having a milestone birthday party or smaller wedding, choose from our 9 x 23 metre or our 9 x 30 metre marquees

  • For medium to large weddings we have our 12 x 27 metre or 12 x 34 metre marquees

  • For even larger weddings and events you can hire our 12 x 42 metre marquee, which can accommodate up to 260 guests

  • If you want to create the ultimate party space you can connect two or more of our marquees for a majestic and unique luxury event

3. Quality and condition

PVC marquees are easier to maintain than canvas, but if you choose a high end marquee hire company you should expect whichever type of marquee you choose to be in pristine condition, as if it were on its first outing.

You should get a chance to inspect the quality and condition of the marquee, many suppliers showcase their marquees at open days and wedding fairs so be sure to attend one and check out the goods for yourself. Look for quality workmanship, fine materials, and proper maintenance. The marquee should be spotlessly clean with zero wear and tear, unless it's a genuinely vintage one, in which case any imperfections can be passed off as ‘added charm’.

4. Flexibility and customisation

Your marquee should be adaptable to different layouts and styles, allowing you to create the perfect ambiance for your event. Check if the hire company can provide things like adjustable walls and different flooring, lighting, and décor options.

Make sure your marquee hire company is also flexible in how they operate. Big events and weddings often mean lots of last minute changes, usually its guest numbers going up or down, but it can also be things like date and location changes. Find out how far in advance you will need to let your chosen hire company know of any changes you may need.

Here at Peacock and Bow we’re super proud of the flexibility we offer. We know from experience that there can be uncertainty right up until the last minute. We also understand just how stressful this can be. That’s why nothing is too much trouble and we are more than happy to accommodate when you need to move things about. In fact, we love a challenge and pride ourselves on coming up with creative solutions to make your special day even better than you dreamt it could be. Share your vision with us and we’ll make it happen.

5. Additional equipment and services

Once you have selected your marquee you can transform the space by adding a dance floor, bar, flooring, furniture, heating, lighting, linings if required, and luxury bathrooms. Most reputable marquee hire companies will be able to provide quality furnishings as well as the marquee itself.

Marquee flooring is a big consideration and can make or break the overall look and feel of your marquee. Most marquee hire companies offer carpet in a choice of colours. For extra sturdiness and an even surface a wooden floor should be laid on the ground first with a carpet on top. For a more rustic look, choose a natural coir. Most marquee hire companies have a range of flooring options to choose from.

6. Installation and dismantling

It's a good idea to check if the marquee hire company has an experienced and professional team to put up and de-rig the marquee. This will ensure everything runs smoothly in the lead up to your event and avoids any last minute disasters or disgruntled suppliers. For instance, the Peacock and Bow team have a fantastic reputation within the wedding industry as being friendly, accommodating, and reliable. We receive so much great feedback, not only from our clients, but from other suppliers who genuinely love working with us. This positive energy makes the event even more special.

Always ask how long it will take to put up the marquee, this is essential for coordinating with your other suppliers, such as your florist and caterers, and making sure they have enough time to work their magic.

Weddings are Peacock and Bow’s biggest niche. They mostly take place on a Saturday, so we usually setup during the week, ensuring the marquee is up in all its glory by the end of Thursday, leaving a full day before the big day itself. We will then de-rig on Sunday or Monday.

7. Insurance and safety

Not the most glamorous aspect of planning a wedding, party or event, but a necessary one nonetheless. Do ask the marquee hire company about their insurance coverage and safety measures. They should have public liability insurance to protect you and your guests in case of any accidents. Inquire about fire safety, emergency exits, and structural stability certifications if appropriate. Once you know all this is in hand, it’s one less thing to worry about.

8. Sustainability

When planning a wedding or event, most people prefer to take a responsible and eco-friendly approach. Here are some tips to help you prioritise sustainability during the marquee hiring process:

  • Look for marquee companies that build sustainability into their operations and are committed to environmentally conscious practices

  • Choose an eco-friendly marquee. Some providers offer structures made from sustainable materials such as bamboo and recycled aluminium. Our traditional marquees are made of canvas, which is a low-impact fabric unlike PVC, which is harmful to the environment

  • Ask about the lighting options available and if possible choose energy-efficient LED lights

  • Look for marquee hire companies that minimise waste, recycle, and properly dispose of any waste produced during the setup and dismantling of the marquee

  • Choose a local marquee supplier to reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance transportation. Ask if they use fuel-efficient vehicles

Don’t be shy to clearly state your sustainability preferences to the marquee supplier, that way they can understand your priorities and work with you to find the most environmentally friendly solutions.

9. Testimonials and reviews

Find out what other’s experiences with a marquee hire company has been by reading testimonials and online reviews. This will give you insights into their reliability, and professionalism. You can also ask friends and colleagues for their recommendations.

External shot of a pole and canvas marquee looking down the shepherd's crook lined walkway with guests inside and out

10. Cost and terms

Last but certainly not least is cost. One of the biggest considerations when planning a marquee wedding or special occasion is the budget. This is usually driven by three factors:

  1. Your ideal level of luxury

  2. The size of your guest list

  3. The type of wedding or party and the location

When it comes to weddings, most couples have an idea of the level of luxury they want for their special day. Specialist wedding marquee hire companies should be able to advise you on the latest trends in style and décor and come up with solutions to meet your budget.

But, where to start when setting a budget? Often people become overwhelmed when they begin looking at the costs of everything they had in mind for their big day. As a rule, always compare prices from different marquee hire companies. They should provide a detailed quote including all costs, such as delivery, setup, dismantling, and any additional services, so you know exactly where your money is going.

Be sure to get clarity on the terms of the marquee hire, such as:

  • Duration

  • Payment schedule

  • Cancellation policy

  • Any penalties or damages clauses

We aim to be as transparent and upfront about the cost of hiring our marquees as possible. We have guide prices on our website and we’re always happy to chat through your requirements and put together a no obligation quote for you.

Marquees typically cost between £30 and £70 per person, depending on the type of marquee and how extravagant you want to go with furnishings. The lower end of the price scale would get you a modern PVC, unlined marquee with matting, simple lighting and furniture. The higher end would be for a top of the range quality marquee, such as the pole and canvas Wills Marquees that we supply, with extras such as a bar, matted flooring, lighting, tables, chairs, dance floor, and staging. So, to get a ballpark figure, pick a per person cost that feels right for the sort of marquee you want and then multiply that by the number of guests you expect. That will give you a rough idea of the overall cost of hiring a marquee.

Pitch perfect - Key takeaways for a magical marquee event

Hiring a marquee can be a daunting experience if you haven’t done it before. We hope this guide has answered some questions about marquees and what to look out for when selecting the right marquee hire company for you.

A pole and canvas marquee a night lit with festoon lights and a shepherd's crook lit walkway

As a main take away, remember to consider the following before you contact a marquee hire company:

  • The venue

  • Number of guests

  • Different spaces within the marquee (reception, dining, dancing)

  • Furniture

  • Services required

At Peacock and Bow, we strive to make the marquee hire process as simple and easy as possible. Our warm and friendly owner, Katharine, will be there every step of the way and her team are highly trained, experienced, and dedicated to making your big day unforgettable for all the right reasons.

If you choose Peacock and Bow for your event you are guaranteed site visits and supplier meetings. Should you go with another marquee hire company, do make sure you receive these necessary services as they will help to predict and swerve any major issues and will ensure everyone involved understands the space and requirements of the event. As the slightly condescending proverb goes ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.

In summary, set yourself up to make an informed decision by doing your research, get multiple quotes, read case studies and scroll social media to help you decide if a marquee hire company is right for you.

If you are interested in Peacock and Bow’s fine English marquees for your wedding or special event, we would love to hear from you, contact us anytime to start planning your spectacular pole and canvas marquee event.


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