We’re often asked to recommend options for marquee layouts which we’re happy to do because we use specialist CAD software that can produce 2D and 3D plans. Some customers have a clear visualisation in their heads from the start but for others it can be a bit stressful, particularly if they haven't planned a large event before.
The first thing to remember is that you’re in the driving seat. We can recommend and advise but at the end of the day it’s your marquee and event so you can position things wherever you like (which is one of the big attractions of marquees). If you’d like to try a ‘drag and drop’ marquee planner online, we recommend this website where you can print, save and email your plan.
You’ll need to allocate space to the following when planning your marquee layout:
-Dining tables (round, square and long are the usual options)
-Top table, if required (long, round, curved or oval)
-Bar (we recommend 3m x 3m for every 150 guests)
-Dance floor (at the end of the marquee or in the middle)
-Band and DJ areas (stage?)
-Chill-out/lounge/break out area
-Reception area i.e. a covered area where guests can stand and enjoy drinks but not huddle around tables. The dance floor and surrounding area can be utilised for this if you wish
-Space for evening guests (no extra space is required unless you’re expecting in excess of 100 additional evening guests)
-Other (photo booth, chocolate fountain, present/buffet tables etc)
We encourage customers to think of their marquee in thirds:
-Reception, bar and chill-out area (nearest the entrance)
-Dance floor (the party area)
Sense of space is a subjective thing. Too little space and it can feel cramped and uncomfortable whereas too much space can dampen the atmosphere and make guests feel isolated. We will help you to achieve a balance.
The most successful marquee layouts flow nicely between areas and don’t create bottlenecks which make the event feel disjointed. You’ll need to be mindful of how your guests like to party – are they the type that like to stand and chat all night, prop the bar up or dance until dawn? If the first two, having the bar and entrance at one end might not be a good idea because guests will congregate there and potentially ignore the dance floor. It might be better to have the entrance in the middle with bar, dance floor on one side and tables on the other.
You’ll need to be mindful of where the best views are from your marquee and where windows should be placed. This is a moot point for evening events unless you have outside lighting in place but for daytime events you’ll probably want table and reception areas to have the best views available.
Do you position the bar at the far end or have it near the dance floor? We’ve seen both options work well and it really depends on how much your guests like to drink and dance (and both at the same time). Having the bar near the dance floor encourages guests to dance with their drinks but smashed glasses on the dance floor is not much fun. If this can be minimised and you’d like the bar to be an integral part of your event then it can work very well.
There is an element of theatre here. What is the first thing you want your guests to see when they enter the marquee? Tables? Bar? View? We like to see a bit of empty space for people to congregate in, browse the seating plan and admire the view.
Given our fantastic yet slightly challenging climate, it is a very good idea to plan for bad weather. If you’re planning to have a drinks reception outside the marquee, what will you do if it rains? Is there space in the marquee and will you let guests stand on the dance floor or force them to huddle around tables? Distance to toilets and parking will need thinking through. If it’s windy and you don’t have doors on your marquee it would be wise to position entrances/exits so they aren’t facing into the wind.
If you're planning a wedding, you'll want to ensure that everyone is as close to the action as possible and that they can see the top table easily during the speeches. Nobody likes to be on the draughty table by the entrance which is furthest from the bridal party!