Wedding Reception Styling in Cornwall and Devon

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

Marquees - your dream wedding under canvas

Create your dream wedding under canvas with these pointers

Hannah May
Hannah May - Chief Features Writer

Nothing beats the magic of a marquee wedding. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of organising one, there’s a lot to think about. From the ‘where?’ to the ‘how?’, we’ve teamed up with Charlotte Winship from Tipi Spaces ( to compile this mini guide to throwing the personality-packed party of your lives.

Skybar Weddings Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling3Skybar Weddings  WSD Productions

This is the first thing to ascertain. One of the main draws of marquees is their versatility, especially the fact that they can be pitched practically anywhere – from clifftops to beaches, tree-dotted hillsides or even your own back garden. Is there a poignant place you’ve always dreamed of tying the knot? Somewhere that evokes happy memories or just boasts the most beautiful view you’d like to share with your guests?

“We started our tipi hire business to enable people to entertain in meaningful outdoor spaces,” explains Charlotte. “There are not many places we can’t build a tipi, but some are easier than others. If we had to choose a favourite, it would be by the sea. And we don’t use machines to build them – they are all built by hand using ladders, ropes and old-fashioned people power!”

The best first course of action is to create a shortlist of your favourite potential venues and then get in touch with your preferred marquee suppliers to further discuss their viability. And there’s an array on the market, from stunning tipis and traditional and clear-span marquees to Mongolian yurts, geodesic domes and sailcloth tents – so be clear on the exact look, size and style you’re after (as well as budget of course!).

Hatch Marquees Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling1Hatch Marquees  Mark Shaw Photography

“Our number-one priority is safety, so our preferred ground for building tipis is level with a smooth terrain,” says Charlotte of the importance of pondering your topography. “It doesn’t have to be bowling-green flat but try to avoid steep slopes and potholes for your own comfort and safety. We lay floor matting that will follow the contours of the ground so any divots, lumps and bumps will still be felt. This is not too much trouble in flat shoes but becomes a bit more of a hazard in high heels! We recommend hiring our dance floor for this reason. Uneven ground is also not ideal when you are trying to level tables and chairs. Similarly, sloping fields and gardens can cause discomfort, especially if guests have to eat food from a plate set at an angle!”

As well as the land upon which the marquee is being laid, think about the space and potential physical hazards around your venue. “The tipis are 7.5m tall, so be mindful of any overhead cables or trees with low-hanging branches,” says Charlotte. “We also ask for a plan of any known underground cables or pipes that might be at risk from our large tent pegs; and protection from the prevailing wind is also useful such as a wall, building, hedge or trees.”

Tipi Spaces Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling2Tipi Spaces  Venetia Norrington Photography

Season and weather
Fancy saying “I do” during a midwinter celebration under the stars? Or would you prefer a summer wedding in a tiny tipi near the water’s edge? Today’s marquees are designed to withstand a range of all-weather scenarios, from storms and snow to heatwaves, adapting to take full advantage of their surrounds and conditions.

Skybar Weddings Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling4Skybar Weddings  WSD Productions

“The tipis are engineered to withstand almost gale-force winds,” confirms Charlotte. “They are designed by Tentipi in Sweden where the weather is extreme. Once they are erected, they are incredibly stable. We watch the weather closely in the lead-up to your event, as well as throughout the build, during the event and the de-rig. If we have any concerns, we will communicate this with you and take precautionary action, which could mean simply lowering the sides or adding some more restraints to ensure everyone’s safety. Occasionally, it can cause delays to the build but we always allow a contingency for bad weather to ensure that the tipis are ready for your wedding.”

And what about dealing with the great British downpour? “The canvas is completely waterproof so will keep you dry!” says Charlotte. “On hot summer days, the ventilation system helps to keep everyone cool inside the tipi. The traditional smoke caps at the tipi peak are designed to be easily raised using a pulley system; this ventilation hole draws the warm air up to the top of the tipi and releases it. This keeps them a lot cooler than other marquee structures without the need for artificial air conditioning.”

Absolute Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling1Absolute Canvas

Once you’ve confirmed your venue and date, it’s time to think about what goes in and around the marquee to make it a comfy, practical and stylish wedding space. You’ll need to consider a host of aspects, from the catering and furniture to the lighting, parking, access, heating and toilet hire.

The size and type of your wedding may dictate these decisions. For example, if you’re hosting an intimate gathering with just a few guests, then you’ll likely adopt a more minimalist approach to the minutiae. Alternatively, a grand, festival-style wedding may require a marquee village with multiple spaces for guests of all ages such as a crèche, quiet zone for older guests, bar area, snug and buffet or entertainment corner.

Think about each of your guests individually and what their needs are. Will you require pathways from the car park or other venue spaces, and how will you ensure these are visible and easily negotiable at night (especially for younger and older guests)?

Tipi Spaces Marquee Wedding Styling1

Tipi Spaces   Emma Stoner Photography

Outside, you may wish to organise seating, firepits, drinks stations or even an al fresco dance floor, while inside the marquee itself you’ll need to consider everything from the flooring and furnishings to the décor. Many marquee companies provide these items with their packages, while others offer a selection as extras. Have some fun in the sourcing, whether bringing items from your home for even more personalisation, trawling car boot sales, enlisting the services of a professional planner or stylist, or perusing the collections of hire companies.

“Tipi Spaces are the only tipi hire company in the South-west who supply ivory-white canvas tipis, which means more natural daylight filters inside the tipis,” explains Charlotte of the instant benefits. “It also means artificial light is reflected more effectively, so you’ll need less lighting, which is better for your pocket and the environment.” Explore the myriad options for added ambience, from fairy lights to candles, lamps, chandeliers, lanterns and festoon lighting.

“The canvas is also completely fire-retardant so you can use smokeless candles to light the tables,” she adds. “We also provide fire extinguishers and recommend covering the flame to prevent any drafts or breezes putting out the candles.”

It might sound like a lot to remember, but as you compile your checklist with your supplier, you’ll become increasingly excited about the prospect of putting your own stamp onto every aspect of your day. This is the chance to create a unique celebration that – with a little due diligence and plenty of forward planning – will ensure an event that truly reflects you and your love story to ultra-memorable effect.

Skybar Weddings Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling2Skybar Weddings  WSD Productions

One of the most alluring aspects of marquee weddings is the chance to make material your wildest imagination! Think statement backdrops, floral installations, elaborate draperies, showstopping lighting, designer furniture and dramatic ceilings.

“If you are looking for a relaxed, boho, festival-style wedding then tipis are the perfect tent choice,” enthuses Charlotte. “The natural elements of wood and canvas complement any landscape and their ivory-white colour is a true blank canvas giving couples complete freedom to design a styling scheme of their choice. The bright canvas also makes the tipis particularly striking from the outside.”

Tipi Spaces Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling3
Tipi Spaces  Venetia Norrington Photography

While tipis are around 13m when the sides are raised, their large size is misleading. “When you step inside a tipi, their conical shape ergonomically wraps around you, creating intimacy at even the largest of events and a feeling of cosy security and comfort,” Charlotte explains. “A solo tipi is ideal for intimate micro-weddings but the sophisticated design of the tipis means that we can easily enlarge the space by linking multiple tipis together.”

Have a view you want to show off? “The tipis have also been designed to offer flexible walls,” says Charlotte. “The canvas walls can be raised to maximise the outside views and the light and air inside. We can also supply windows so the tipis remain enclosed against the weather and retain a view of the outdoors.”

Marquees really come into their own with their unique ability to blend form and function. “The tipis poles form the main structure of the tent but also make great places to hang decorations including drapes, garlands, fairy lights, chandeliers, macramé, festoons, bunting, paper lanterns and balloons,” says Charlotte of the endless possibilities to personalise your tent’s space – ensuring the wow factor is in full and fabulous force.

Absolute Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling3

Absolute Canvas  Taylor & Porter

From stretch tent to tipi, we’re crushing on these cool canvas options…

Traditional marquees
It’s difficult to resist the elegance of a traditional marquee. Its classic style combines wooden poles, natural canvas and large Georgian arch windows to usher in views across the Cornish countryside for a timelessly beautiful celebration.

Absolute Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling5Absolute Canvas

Stretch tent
Versatile, contemporary and super-stylish, stretch tents are made from an incredibly strong and stretchy waterproof material to give a fabulously freestyle structure that can be erected in a variety of locations and spaces.

Skybar Weddings Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling1    Skybar Weddings                                     WSD Productions

Clear span marquees
Offering brilliant flexibility, the clear-span is a top choice for hard ground and trickier-to-get-to locations. Its framework of aluminium poles and white PVC presents unrestricted space inside, as well as strong weatherproof credentials to boot.

Absolute Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling2Absolute Canvas

As visually stunning as they are brilliantly flexible, tipis can be linked together to create the perfect sized space for your event. You can lift the sides on a summer’s day for an open-air celebration or cosy up amidst firepits and fairy lights in the winter.

Tipit Spaces Marquees WedTipi Spaces

Tipi Spaces Canvas Marquee Wedding Styling4
Sunset Tipis

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Main image Absolute Canvas

words Hannah May