How to Plan a Marquee Wedding Reception on the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay!


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Some of our all-time favourite weddings have been epic marquee receptions! We love the flexibility that comes with styling a marquee celebration – but keep in mind that planning a marquee wedding is completely different to hosting a wedding at a venue.

From costs and equipment to finding the right location, there’s a lot to think about. Luckily, we have a few tips up our sleeve to help you organise a seamless and functional marquee wedding reception.

If you’re currently planning a marquee wedding here on the Gold Coast, Tweed Coast, Brisbane, Byron Bay or beyond – we’ve got you. Keep reading for our expert marquee wedding planning tips, and some beautiful marquee inspiration to get you excited!

Why Plan a Marquee Set Up Wedding Reception?

Still on the fence about planning a marquee wedding? Here are a few great reasons to consider hosting a marquee celebration:

  • CREATIVE FREEDOM: A marquee set up allows you to design a completely unique and personal wedding from the ground up – it’s the perfect blank canvas! From the style of marquee you choose, to the furniture you use to deck it out, you can basically build your dream wedding from scratch.
  • VENUE FLEXIBILITY: Many of our couples opt for marquee weddings so they can utilise family properties or their very own backyard. Any private space that holds a special meaning to you can be transformed into a wedding venue simply by incorporating a marquee set up. We’ve worked at marquee wedding receptions everywhere from Brisbane backyards to Gold Coast homes and the Byron Bay hinterland. The possibilities are endless!
  • PEACE OF MIND: Hiring a marquee for your wedding will also give you peace of mind in the event of wet weather, so you don’t have to stress about finding a last minute Plan B.  While an al fresco wedding under the stars might sound super romantic, it’s important to be realistic and prepared for any scenario. Hiring a marquee allows you to host your celebration through rain or shine, without any sleepless nights leading up to your big day!

Find the Perfect Marquee-Friendly Wedding Venue

Once you’ve decided to host a marquee wedding, the first step will be finding a suitable marquee-friendly wedding venue. If you have a private property in mind, get in touch with a marquee hire company who can offer a site inspection and confirm the space is safe for installation.

If you don’t have a private property at your disposal, don’t stress! We have so many amazing DIY wedding venue options dotted down the East Coast, from lush hinterland homes to secluded gardens. Get in touch with our team for our top recommendations for marquee-friendly wedding venues!


Image by Figtree Pictures


Image by Figtree Pictures

2. Choose Your Marquee Size and Design

The next step will be finding and securing your wedding marquee hire! Marquees come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so it’s important to choose the best option to suit your requirements. Securing your marquee hire early should also be a top priority – we recommend booking your marquee hire around 12 months prior to your wedding date.

The right marquee size for your wedding is going to depend on a few things:

  • The space available at the venue site

  • Your guest numbers

  • The style of your event (sit down vs cocktail style)

You’ll also want to think about which elements of your day will take place in the marquee. Do you want to host absolutely everything in the marquee, including pre-dinner drinks, dinner and dancing? Or will cocktails and canapes be hosted outside first, with guests entering the marquee for a sit-down reception?


Image by Brooke Adams


Image by Brooke Adams


Image by Brooke Adams

Having a plan for the “flow” of your day is the best way to help you choose the right marquee size. Make sure you have all of this information handy when you approach your marquee hire specialist, as they’ll be able to suggest the most appropriate marquee size for your needs.

You can also roughly calculate your appropriate marquee hire size requirements based on a “square metre per guest” rule of thumb. For a sit-down reception, work on 1.2m square per guest, or 0.75m square per guest for a stand-up event.

You’ll then need to think about how much additional space you want to allow for your dance floor, cake table/gift tables, and any extra inclusions like staging or lounging areas. As a guide: for a 150 pax sit-down wedding that also requires a dance floor and lounging area, you would be looking at a marquee size of around 10m x 33m.

The size of your marquee will also depend on your table layouts. Do you want long rows or individual tables? Do you need space for a seperate bridal table? Try to map out your ideal floor plan in your head so that you can communicate this to your marquee supplier. You can find our guide on planning your wedding table layouts here!

Along with the different sizing options, your marquee hire specialist will also have a variety of styles and designs available, too. From clear marquees to silk-lined marquees, each style can also be customised with or without walls or draping to suit both the weather and your styling vision.

We recommend asking your marquee hire supplier for photos from previous events to choose your favourite, but be aware that different styles and inclusions will come at a different price point. For example, clear marquees are generally a little exxier, but the ambience they create means you won’t have to go overboard with additional styling.


Image by Bushturkey Studio


Image by Bushturkey Studio

3. Consider Your Additional Marquee Hire Requirements

Remember, the actual marquee structure is just one piece of the puzzle. If you’re planning a marquee wedding reception, you’ll also need to make sure you have the following items accounted for depending on your requirements:

  • Flooring

  • Portable toilets

  • Generators

  • Lighting for both inside and outside the marquee

  • Cool rooms

  • Heaters (for winter) or fans (for summer)

  • Kitchen equipment

  • Staging

Ask your marquee hire supplier if this is something they can assist with. If they don’t supply these items directly, they’ll definitely be able to point you in the right direction.


Image by Bushturkey Studio

4. Create Your Furniture Checklist

Now for the fun part – decking out your marquee with a beautiful selection of furniture and decor to bring your wedding vision to life! Keep in mind that you’re working with a complete blank canvas, so you’ll need to think about the following items:

  • Dining tables and dining chairs (for a sit down reception)

  • Cocktail furniture (for a stand up reception)

  • All tableware including plates, cutlery, glassware, napkins

  • A service bar (or 2, or 3, depending on your guest numbers)

  • Table decor – vases, candle holders, charger plates, etc.

We recommend creating a checklist of your furniture and decor requirements (see ours here!) so you can tick each one off as you go and ensure nothing is forgotten. You can also grab the dimensions of your furniture items and pencil this into your floor plan to scale, so you can confirm everything will fit comfortably within the marquee.

And when it comes to budgeting for all of the above? We’d suggest allocating at least 10k as a minimum to cover the marquee, flooring, furniture and lighting.


Image by Lucas and Co Photography

5. Confirm The Logistics

Being a blank canvas, a marquee wedding reception usually involves several different suppliers. Everything you’ve booked will need to be delivered, set up and then packed down following the event. With this in mind, it’s important to have your logistics organised to ensure everything runs smoothly!

First, you’ll need to confirm when your marquee hire company will be arriving at the venue to set-up. It goes without saying that you’ll need to make sure the marquee site is easily accessible for cars and trucks, so your suppliers can unload all of their gear. Depending on how long your hire period is, your marquee company may be able to install a day or even a couple of days prior to the wedding. The marquee should be completely installed before any other suppliers start bumping in.


Image by Figtree Pictures

If you’ve arranged lighting or hanging florals for your marquee, these should be the next suppliers to bump in while the marquee is empty and the floor space is clear. Your furniture supplier (that’s us!) should bump in next to set up your tables, chairs, and additional hire items. Catering equipment, toilets, cool rooms, heaters and styling materials can usually be bumped in on the morning of your wedding prior to your caterers arriving.

Then for your pack down, everything is reversed. You’ll want to get your furniture, equipment, decor and lighting out of the road first, to make sure the marquee can be pulled down quickly without any interruption. Make sure all of your suppliers are working from the one master run sheet with the same timings and floor plans, so that everyone is aware of who is bumping in, where, and when!

Side note: you can see why wedding planners and on-the-day coordinators can be a great investment for marquee weddings. If you’re planning a marquee reception on a private property or your own home, it means you don’t have the luxury of a venue manager to assist with the planning and set up. A wedding planner can help liaise with all of your suppliers, create a run-sheet, and ensure everything is executed seamlessly on the day.


Image by Bushturkey Studio

6. Ask The Experts!

From figuring out the correct marquee size to choosing the right furniture to deck out your event, it’s always best to ask the experts for their advice. Weddings are what we live and breathe, and we’ve done it all before hundreds of times!

Our team can assist with everything from marquee hire recommendations to floor plan guidance and furniture suggestions to suit your styling vision. You can contact our team right here to get the ball rolling!

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