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  • Writer's pictureLauren Cooke

What does ‘Sailcloth Marquee’ actually mean?

Updated: May 10

It’s no secret that pole and canvas marquee weddings are our thing, we can’t get enough of providing the best quality and most beautiful blank space for a riot of creativity to happen. A marquee wedding means you’re not confined to the limits of what’s possible in a venue. Plus, there’s something truly special about gathering all your favourite people under the canopy in an atmospheric world of wonder that you’ve created. 


Traditional pole marquees have a lot of interchangeable names ascribed to them. If you’re researching marquee hire for your wedding, you’ve probably heard them referred to as ‘Sperry tents’, ‘Wills Marquees’, ‘Sailcloth marquees’ and more. So, do they all mean the same thing? Short answer; No siree bob! (could have been shorter!)


The truth is that the quality and detail of pole marquees can vary widely, so in this article, we’re going to help you to understand what those differences are and what terms like ‘Sperry’ and ‘Sailcloth’ actually mean.


Why is it so important to have a good quality wedding marquee?

Before we delve into the details, you might be wondering if it's really that important to have the best quality marquee available for just one event? As seasoned wedding suppliers, we can wholeheartedly say that the marquee needs to be the strong foundation your whole event rests on. If the UK weather decides to do its ‘four seasons in one day’ trick, a sturdy, well-made marquee will protect you and your guests from leaks, draughts and even rips in the material. Let's not forget the all important ambiance. Your wedding marquee sets the stage for all the unforgettable moments, it forms the backdrop to your dream day. 


If you choose a Wills Marquee for example, their meticulous attention to detail and love for craftsmanship shines through. During the daytime, the fine natural cotton canvas allows you and your guests to basque in the sunlight streaming through the canopy, and by night, your marquee transforms into an irresistible beacon, aglow with warmth and charm. Trust us, when it comes to your special day, a top-quality marquee is worth it.


A Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee glows with the warm light of flying lights, festoons and fairy lights as the sun goes down

What is a Sailcloth marquee?

Sailcloth refers to the shape of the marquee with its signature high peaks. Some sailcloth marquees are made of canvas, but not all. Quite often, marquee hire companies describe themselves as offering traditional sailcloth marquees. The word sailcloth implies that it's a canvas product but in reality they’re referring to modern plastic sailcloth. 


It’s for this reason that here at Peacock and Bow we avoid describing our marquees as ‘sailcloth’. We simply use the term ‘cotton canvas’ to avoid any confusion and give our audience the piece of mind that they’re considering a top quality marquee for their wedding or special event.


The majestic peaks of a Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee.

What are Wills Marquees?

At Peacock and Bow, we provide Wills Marquees. Wills Marquees is a family owned luxury marquee maker based in the UK. They design and manufacture specific types of traditional pole and canvas marquees with a level of craftsmanship and quality that is a cut above. 


Wills make ‘original sailcloth’ i.e. heavy duty, creamy cotton rich canvas, pole marquees at their workshop in Yorkshire. They strive to make world class marquees through their meticulous attention to detail and unwillingness to sacrifice quality for profit. 


With a Wills, It's the little differences that together make a huge impact that sets them apart;


  • The guy ropes use hardwood sliders rather than ratchet straps

  • Instead of zips and velcro, the panels are attached using brass eyelets and lacing cord

  • Valances cover any gaps between wall and canopy

  • The side poles are topped with hand turned wooden finials 

  • The flags that crown the king poles are handmade


These details may not be top of your priority list when it comes to wedding planning, but you only have to take a look at our testimonials to see that they add up to a truly exceptional marquee.



What’s a Sperry tent

Like Tannoy (it’s a speaker system…IYKYK) Sperry is a brand name that has become synonymous with the product. Sperry manufactures pole marquees in America and certified Sperry tent providers in the UK import the marquees. Unlike the quintessentially British look and feel of Wills Marquees, Sperry tents have a distinctly American aesthetic. Other notable differences are that the heights of the king poles on a Sperry tent vary to create a curved silhouette, whereas a Wills ‘skyline’ is a clean straight line. Also, Sperry tents use a lightweight sailcloth containing polyester material, while Wills Marquees use natural cotton canvas. Other differences include;


  • Sperry tents have zipped panels whereas Wills Marquees are laced

  • Sperry tents have half moon and sundial features around the poles

  • The canopy of a Sperry tent is one piece of material, whereas Wills Marquees canopies use a modular design


A Peacock and Bow pole and canvas marquee with flying lights along the roofline

You can find out more about different types of marquees in our Ultimate guide to hiring a marquee. Get in touch to start planning your marquee wedding, whether it’s at a venue or on private land such as the family home. We can’t wait to help you bring your vision to life.


Wills Marquee partners

Original Marquees Cotswolds & The Lake District

Wills Marquees North Yorkshire

Covered By Canvas Staffordshire

Elegant Pitches Scotland


Marquee weddings in Lincolnshire and beyond 

As an experienced wedding marquee supplier, we’re all about keeping things stress-free and going the extra mile to create exactly what you want for your big day, an authentic and beautiful reflection of you as a couple.


When you choose Peacock and Bow, you’ll know we have your best interests at heart. We want you to enjoy your wedding planning and fearless leader, Katharine is always available to give advice and bounce ideas off and support you throughout your planning journey. We genuinely take joy in bringing your event to life. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you plan your marquee wedding, do get in touch for a chat.



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