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What size marquee do I need?

Square meters, square feet, how many per person? With 20 years of experience in providing marquee event solutions for weddings, parties and corporate events large and small, we work to a time tested formula for the minimum amount of comfortable space to allow for but there are additional factors to take into account.

This really is one of those “How long is a piece of string?” 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. (But over time it hasn't failed us yet !)

Party Type

Square Meters

Square Foot

Standing Drinks reception


8sq ft

Seated Meal


11sq ft

Seated Meal + Dance floor


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?


Optimise your space

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.


The factors

Number of guests

Using the table provided 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.


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. 


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.


This could be simply a table set up inside or a small marquee can be attached to provide the perfect alcove for the bar to be run.

Flower arrangements

Large pedestal arrangements (small ones look mean) need space;

  1. to be appreciated 
  2. not to be in the way

Other Entertainment

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


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


Size can be wet weather dependant

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!

Marquee sizes quoted



2 x companies quoted for 12m x 15m (drw 1) 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 (drw 2) 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 (drw 3) 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 it's not always easy to determine what you are getting.

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 did 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 Check list

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

Tel: 01489 575372