What size marquee do I need?

Bunting adorns this classic marquee style

This really is one of those “How long is a piece of string?” questions …

The following square meter per person formula can be used to achieve a broad answer to this question, however this is just a rough guide.

Party Type Square Meters Square Foot
Standing Drinks reception 0.75m 8sq ft
Seated Meal 1m 11sq ft
Seated Meal + Dance floor 1.5m 17sq ft

This formula will give you the MINIMUM Space required!

Using the table above will provide you with a rough estimate of the size marquee you require, however there are many factors which will influence the overall size.  To understand how much space you need you must consider the following points:

  • Number of guest?
  • Type of food?
  • Band or discos?
  • Bar?
  • Flower arrangement?
  • Weather conditions?
  • Cloakroom?
  • Other entertainment?

All of these factors are often overlooked as taking up space or not mentioned to the marquee supplier and have a negative impact on the available space. By considering these points before booking a marquee you can ensure ample space within the marquee and minimise stress nearer the special date.

Number of guest: Using the guide above will give you a good idea how much space you will require to accommodate your guest. It’s not uncommon for more guests to arrive in the evening.  Have you allowed for this?

Type of food: Sitting down meal or buffet? Simple question but in reality could be the difference between 10-20 waiters/waitresses on the move or 100+ guests.

Band: The band will require additional space. How much depends on their specific requirements. You must check and take the advice of the band. Some extra space in the marquee is probably quite inexpensive compared to the cost of the band.

costigan band copy2

The Standards Band performing at a party in a marquee provided by Southern Marquees Ltd.  This marquee would beat any Hampshire venue!

Disco: This size varies considerably, some are quite economical on space saving having embraced the digital age and virtually running from a laptop. Others are using turntables and lighting rigs which require almost the same space as a band.

Bar: This could simply be a table set up inside,  a small marquee attached to provide the perfect alcove for the bar to be run or a reception marquee to include a bar alcove …

Hops were used to decorate this bar alcove in this pretty country wedding marquee …

This reception marquee housing the bar alcove worked really well at this rugby wedding, keeping the inevitable ‘scrum’ around the bar away from the dancing in the main marquee …

Flower arrangements: Large pedestal arrangements need space to be appreciated but should not be in the way.

Other Entertainment: There are many different types of entertainment to be hired in for a party, from jukeboxes through to photo booths.  All of these will require additional space.

Cloakroom: Will this be a coat rail inside marquee or a small annex added to the entrance?

Size can be wet weather dependent


On sunny days it is nice to start the reception outside the marquee, only going in when it is time for the wedding breakfast, while it is prudent to always allow for some reception space inside the marquee it is important to check that your marquee supplier is happy to increase the size of the marquee at the time of installation should the forecast require it.  If the weather is looking to be wet over your chosen date you may wish to consider allowing a small annex to be used as a cloakroom.

The dangers of internet Quotations

On a recent survey, 12 marquee companies were asked to quote for a wedding for 140 guests. The question given to each company was “My daughters getting married can you quote for a wedding for 140 guests?”  The results were surprisingly varied and certainly not indicative of the real costs. The only real constant was that they each quoted for 140 chairs!

Survey Results:

Marquee sizes quoted:

2 x companies quoted for 12m x 15m ( see drawing 1 below) these are hopelessly undersized there is just room to fit the tables wall to wall. There has been no space left for the band or disco and no reception space should it rain.

7 x companies quoted for a 9m x 24m. (see drawing 2 below) These come in just above the minimum requirement and will give enough space in bad weather, bearing in mind previous points raised about additional space.

2 x companies quoted for 10m x 25 (see drawing 3 below) These are extremely comfortable and allow for flower decorations and extra space for wet weather

1 x company quoted for 5 x Capri tents joined and fully guttered.  Interestingly this quote was one of the more expensive closely followed by one of the 12m x 15m.

The old adage of “you get what you pay for” is certainly true with marquees but is not always easy to determine what you are getting.

Drawing No 1

drawing 1

Drawing No 2

drawing no2

Drawing No 3

drawing no 3

Scale Drawings

As a customer it is vital to ask for a scale drawing of the proposed marquee layout. If they cannot provide one be cautious. Scale drawings are an effective way for the company to show you their ideas and proposed layouts whilst ensuring you have enough space for all that you wish to do within your marquee.

Even 25 years ago we were producing hand drawn scale drawings with compasses and photocopiers. The world has moved on. Thank goodness for C.A.D !


The quotations ranged from £2250. Ex vat – £3800 ex vat. The more concerning issue is with what is not included in the quote:

  • Catering tent– Only 1 Company included this in their quote. I cannot remember when I last done a wedding marquee without one!
  • Entrance awnings & cloakroom – Only 2 out of 12 listed them as an option
  • Generators & Power– 2 companies mentioned they could organise this and 1 specifically said this would be the hirer’s responsibility. You will certainly need power

The internet quotes provide a vague idea of what can be expected when it comes to prices however they often the bare minimum of what you require.

Marquee hire Checklist

To help you please use the check list. The following can be “high” price items that will be needed but often not on the first quote.

  • Catering tent- most events need one, Consult caterer for required size
  • Power- How much power depends on event but marquee should be able to advise of options and cost
  • Toilets– Do you need them? Again if the marquee company o not hire themselves they will certainly know somebody who can and the cost
  • Bar annex- Always worth considering. They keep the main marquee clear & then it is much easier for the caterer or bar company to operate
  • Entrance awnings and French doors- Depending on the time of year these should be considered                                    

    How much does a marquee cost?

    If you have read the above you will at least be warned that it is not such a simple question to answer. As I have shown the tendency with marquee hire is for companies to quote the bear minimum to entice you in. to get a realistic budget you must be sure to get the supplier to quote you for EVERYTHING you need. Including an adequate size marquee.

    Always ask for a scale drawing

    scale drawing.jpg


Contact us to discuss your requirements and start planning your party, corporate event or wedding .. We would love to hear from you!