Look, we may not have said it before, but we’ll definitely be saying it again – many great things happen in tents. Things like circuses (lions!), festivals (famous people!), school camps (truth or dare! Hormones! Snacks!) and beautiful, memorable, under-the-stars weddings.
Marquees – the tents of the wedding world – are a great alternative to a classic wedding venue for couples who want a point of difference, a bit of freedom and a lot of creative control. While the marquee option is known to add a bit to your to-do list (furniture hire, catering, plan B in case of El Niño winds), it also gives you total control of the day’s look and feel – which, to many people, is totally worth the additional time, planning and work. But, as with everything wedding related, there’s a huge amount to consider before hammering in the pegs. Where will people pee? What happens if the marquee blows away? When will a mysterious elderly relative gift me some wedding-ready land?
To answer these questions (and many more) we decided to bring in some big dogs – our brilliant marquee gurus. Read on for their expert advice on sites, setup, seasons and style, as well as our little directory of who’s who and what they do.
And, for anyone in a hurry, we’ve whipped up a quick list of tent-related questions, concerns and considerations – a kind of pocket-guide to all things tents. You’ll find this (quickly, easily) at the bottom of the blog. Happy camping!
Before you start dreaming of banquet tables, decadent desserts and miniature toiletries for the bathrooms, you’ll need to focus on something a little more practical. Where are you going to pitch this tent?
If you’re not (yet) the proud owner of a cliff-top farm overlooking the sea – all is not lost. Talk to your marquee provider about options in your area, as chances are they know of, or have worked on, some excellent locations. You could also talk to your regional council about local areas for use, as some allow the use of parks and other public places. Of course, it won’t be as simple as throwing up your marquee, hooking up the kegs and cracking right into it – there’ll be permits to apply for and lots of rules to follow (fun things like sound levels, toilet accessibility, liquor licencing and power), but we think it’s well worth a try.
With this in mind, the team at Flagship – Hawke’s Bay’s numero uno marquee empire and exclusive providers of the stunning Sperry Tent – urge you to choose your site very wisely, as it literally lays the foundation for your entire day. They suggest double checking tent dimensions (including space for exterior pegs an, as some websites only show the interior measurements. They also recommend obtaining an accurate underground site plan to avoid piercing anything important down below. Consider ease of access for suppliers and guests, and if you’re having catering or flushing toilets then you’ll need access to running water. Also, be savvy of any hidden costs – things like marquee linings, sidewalls, set up costs and council consents.
Setting up (and taking down)
Another thing to consider before saying yes to the tent is the set up and take down process. Again, the team at Flagship were on hand to provide some excellent advice, suggesting you speak to your marquee provider well in advance about what’s involved. It’s important to have enough time to style your marquee, so ask if they can set it up a couple of days before the wedding to avoid any last-minute panic.
If you’re having a day after, ask if you can hang on to the marquee for an extra day to maximise use and enjoyment. On the topic of setting up, it’s also important to know how much involvement (if any) you will have in the actual construction of the tent, as you may need to factor in additional time and muscle. Finally, the Flagship team recommend that you also think about what’s inside the marquee…and how it’s coming out. If you’re using a handful of providers for things like furniture, sound and flooring, make sure you arrange for everything to be removed from the marquee before it’s due to come down. This will save a lot of stress and help the pack down run smoothly.
Ahhh, the weather. While we still can’t control it, we can factor it into our plans. The tipi team at Gather and Gold recommend sourcing a heater for the colder months – something that sits out of sight, pumping heat into the tent for ultimate comfort. If heat-stroke is more of a concern, make sure you have plenty of shade on offer – possibly in the form of a beautiful tipi. And, perhaps most importantly, they urge you to consider the wind. If wild gusts are on the menu and your site is exposed, have a plan B for where the tent could go. Unlike hiring a few umbrellas or providing sunblock, wind exposure is something that needs to be considered well in advance, as no one wants to be chasing their marquee down a hill. Talk to your tent provider, talk to your site provider, talk to your partner and avoid disaster.
Jumping back to summer, LL Hire raise a great point on the topic of sun safety and clear marquees. If you’re going down this path, make sure you look for UV protected, high-grade PVC options, preferably with a shade cover (which should be included in the pricing package). If the sun is out in full force, the last thing you want is a tent full of guests sweating into their starters.
Also, flooring. If the weather’s looking wet, Gather and Gold suggest installing a floor to minimise mud and keep things clean. Our Flagship friends also suggest using flooring – bearing in mind a raised option usually works better than a flat one. Raised flooring restricts damage to the lawn, allows it to breath and prevents any water seeping through the tiles if it’s soggy under-hoof.
We spoke to our pals at Auckland-based Raj Tent Club NZ – providers of everything colourful and exotic – about owning and making the most of your style. They believe the beauty of a marquee wedding lies in the freedom of choice - from furniture to food and ambience to alcohol. Basically, if you’re doing it in a tent then it’s all up to you – no venue requirements for food and drink, no built-in furniture or decorations you’d like to throw on a bonfire. On top of this, you can play around with layout and structure. Perhaps you want a classic central marquee, or you’d like to mix it up with multiple tents to create a relaxed festival vibe? Bar tents, dance-floor tents, chill-out tents…the world of temporary-structures really is your oyster.
If you like the sound of creative control but you’re struggling to visualise how it will look, ask your provider if they can offer you a floor plan. For example, LL Hire work on custom 3D floor plans which allow you to see the flow of your wedding furniture and layout well in advance, to avoid any nasty surprises on set up day. Also, if the thought of being in charge of style gives you clammy hands and an irregular heartbeat – don’t stress. There are many amazing companies out there who would jump at the chance to work with you, from initial ideas to delicate finishing touches. All you have to do is ask.
Located in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay (with tents available NZ-wide) Flagship are well on their way to becoming wedding-vendor royalty. As exclusive providers of the breathtaking Sperry Tents, Flagship are all about statement, style and sustainability – providing couples with beautiful, reliable homes for their wedding celebrations.
Based in Tauranga (and delivering all across the North Island) LL Hire’s mission is clear – to provide premium, top of the range marquees and furniture for weddings and events. Their clear marquees provide a spectacular setting, allow couples to make the most of the natural surroundings. And, they’re big on supporting local – with all their marquees made right there in the beautiful Bay of Plenty.
In the heart of our stunning Southern Alps lives Gather and Gold, providers of the incredible giant Nordic tipis. Their tipis create an enchanted atmosphere, providing the perfect space for your wedding or event. If you’re looking for something memorable, magical and completely different, Gather and Gold is the vendor for you.
Whatever the New Zealand weather might bring, Auckland-based Raj Tent Club NZ provide the perfect cover.
Inspired by nomadic traditions from around the world, Raj Tent Club offer you the chance to celebrate in an amazing, highly detailed and exotic surrounding. Adorned with decorative scalloping, tassels and colourful hand-sewn voile drapes, a Raj tent is more than just a structure– it’s a work of art.
If you can drive a vehicle in, you can get a Stretch tent to your event. Flat, rolling or a little bit steep – a Stretch tent works perfectly with relaxed rural settings, stunning landscapes and breathtaking backdrops. Available from Auckland to Invercargill, Stretch Tents enable you to create a unique, memorable location for your wedding.
Make Your Day Events is a family owned and operated business, based on the beautiful Thames Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. They offer affordable, high quality electron peg and pole marquee packages, as well as event styling across the top half of the North Island.
Quick Questions for Busy People
- Are there any local council rules and regulations?
- Do we need to obtain council consent?
- Are there any neighbours we need to ask for permission, or give a heads up on noise?
- Can cars park at the location or will we require a bus?
- Will we need to bring in bathroom facilities?
- Does the site have access to water and power?
- Have we checked the internal and external tent dimensions?
- Can we get an underground site plan for our marquee provider?
- Will vendors, suppliers and guests have easy access to the site?
- What direction does the wind come from?
- Do we have a plan B for on-the-day wild winds?
- Is there enough space for caterers to set up catering tents or mobile kitchens?
- Will we require an additional power outlet for speakers, lighting, catering etc.?
- Will we need heating? Shade?
- Should we arrange flooring?
- When will the marquee be set up and packed away? How does this work with our other vendors?
- Is our marquee UV protected?
Found your perfect marquee but not sure where to find everything else? Browse our carefully curated collection of some of the best New Zealand wedding vendors!
- Gather & Gold Tipi - Bonnie Jenkins
- Gather & Gold Tipi - Hannah Beth
- LL Hire Clear Marquee - Newfound Photography
- Flagship Events Marquee - Brian Culy
- LL Hire Marquee Interior - J.Reid Photography
- Raj Tent Club NZ - Danelle Bohane
- Flagship Events Marquee - Jim and Vicky Pollard
- Flagship Events Marquee - Jim and Vicky Pollard
- LL Hire Clear Marquee - I Do Photography
- Gather & Gold Tipi - Bayly Moore
- Raj Tent Club Tent NZ - Payton Reiney