When planning any party or wedding, the budget is one of the most important things to consider - even more so, if you're planning a marquee celebration. As a marquee wedding planner, I've noticed that there's a tendency for some people to think that a marquee at home or in a friend's field is an easier, cheaper option; but there are lots of additional expenses that you need to take into account. The aim of this blog is to help you to identify the different elements that need to be considered when planning an event in a marquee, I won't be setting out example prices in this blog as they can vary significantly depending on location and overall look of the event.
The Location - If you're lucky enough to have family with a large garden then this can reduce your budget significantly; however, you still might need to allocate money for any maintenance that they need to do in order to make the location perfect for your celebration. If you don't have the opportunity to use someone's land, then you will have to look into hiring somewhere to put up your marquee. This could be anywhere from in the grounds of a manor house, to hiring a field off of a local farmer.
The Main Structure - Once you have chosen the location of your event you need to organise the main structure, remember that this also includes flooring and any linings. You have a huge variety of options when it comes to choosing your marquee structures and the different types are suited to different locations and styles of event. Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on marquee structures!
Additional Structures - a marquee celebration rarely consists of one structure; more often than not, you will also need to source a tent for your caterers to use. Depending on your budget, guest numbers and type of event; you may also want to hire a separate dancing tent to tag on to your main structure, or an additional bar area. You could also have a separate staff area, creche tent for any children or a tent for the bride to get ready in.
Furniture - When you use a marquee you also have to hire in all of the tables and chairs for your guests to use. You can often do this through the marquee company, but sometimes you might want a specific style or might like to add lounge furniture too. You also have to remember to hire in any additional tables such as cake tables, trestle tables for bars, gifts or entertainment; as well as any trestle tables that your caterer requires in the catering annexe.
Catering Equipment - A marquee does not come with a fully equipped kitchen, depending on your caterers requirements you will also need to hire in some basic equipment for them to use. This includes chiller trailers for the caterer and the bar, any ovens that the caterers require as well as possibly facilities to wash up such as a glass wash. I strongly advise that you ask your caterers and bar what they require, as they may need specific kitchen equipment or may not need a glass wash as they return them dirty etc.
Toilets - If your marquee celebration is being hosted in the grounds of a country house, you may not need to hire in toilets as you might have the use of their toilets included in the hire fee. However, if your venue doesn't have enough toilets for your guest numbers, or your event is being held in a field/garden, then you will need to hire in toilets. These range from your standard port-a-loos, to mobile toilet units to luxury vanity units; what you choose will all depend on the size/style of your event and your budget.
A Generator - This is the most important thing not to scrimp on when planning your budget for your marquee wedding or party. It is crucial that you have enough power to run everything that you need to throughout the duration of your event. You should liaise between your caterers, bar team, DJ/band, photo booth company, any supplier that needs power and your generator provider, to ensure that you have the correct generator capacity to run your event without any hiccups.
Lighting/Production - With a marquee event, you also need to consider the lighting/production. As well as functional lighting such as in the main structure, catering tent, or on the paths to the toilets; you should also consider any mood lighting or lighting features that you want to include to achieve your event design. Remember to think about external lighting as well as internal lighting - you don't want your guests falling into a pond on their way back to the car park as it hadn't been lit up!
Entertainment - Like with any event, you will need to budget for your entertainment; however, with a marquee celebration you need to budget for hiring in your stage/dancefloor and a PA system. These are all things that can often be found already at a venue such as a hotel, but you will need to allocate some of your budget to book these for your marquee party.
Heating/Air Conditioning - If you're hosting a marquee event in the winter, you will need to budget for hiring in some sort of heating to keep your guests warm. Likewise, if you're having your celebration in the heat of the summer, it may be worthwhile hiring in air conditioning units to keep everyone cool - this obviously depends on where you are in the world, and also the style of marquee that you have chosen.
Catering/Drinks extras - When hosting an event at an established venue, they usually have crockery, cutlery, glassware, linens etc that you can use as part of your hire fee. However, when you have a wedding or party in a marquee - you need to remember to hire these in. Your caterer may do this for you, but you might have to hire these all in separately, therefore you need to remember to include them in your budget. The same also applies to your bar; you will probably want an actual bar at your event, not just a table, so you have to set aside some of your budget to pay for this - whether it's a horsebox bar or a mobile bar or anything in between!
Staffing - Catering staff would normally be included in the cost of your caterers, but I'd definitely check; and the same applies for your bar staff. However, have you allocated some of your budget for security staff? You'll need to have someone on site 24 hours a day whilst there is equipment or alcohol, for example, in the marquee. You may also want to consider hiring parking attendants as well as an electrician/member of production to be there on the day. Hiring a wedding or event planner is also a great idea as you won't have anyone there on the day overseeing everything for you.
Contingency Plans - Last, but by no means least, you must have a chunk of your budget set aside for any contingencies. I would recommend this to anyone organising any type of event in any location; however, it is essential when planning a celebration in a marquee. There is a lot more involved with a marquee, and you may find depending on weather, that you have to suddenly hire in a covered walkway so your guests don't get wet whilst walking to the loos, or you may realise that you hadn't thought of sub-flooring and the dancefloor can't be set up on the uneven ground. It's essential that you expect the unexpected and don't stretch yourself too much without leaving some budget aside to solve any last minute problems.
There is a lot to think about when planning your marquee wedding or event, more financial considerations and logistics to organise, but they are truly amazing venues. If you would like help from a marquee wedding planner for your marquee wedding or celebration, then please get in touch to see how I can help you.
Check out my blog on marquee styles, if you're unsure on the pros and cons of different marquee types.
Photos taken at events where I was freelancing for the named planning companies.