How to Plan an Unforgettable Marquee Wedding

Drone image taken of three tipis overlooking a lake in New Zealand

First step, make sure your marquee is a tipi. A Gather & Gold tipi, ideally, or one of our new and very exciting sailcloth wedding tents. It’s not that we’re incredibly biassed (we are), it’s more that we very genuinely believe a tipi wedding, a sailcloth tent wedding, or a tipi-sailcloth-tent combo wedding will bring the most glam, awe and wonder to your day. And we want you to have all those things in spades.

On the other side of that coin, we also have ‘all’s fair in love and war’ tattooed on our lower back. So whatever your choice, tipi or marquee wedding, we’re here to help you make it an absolutely unforgettable day. Just choose the tipi, marquee, or sailcloth tent that whispers to your soul, gets your jaw closest to the ground, and is a weirdly accurate reflection of you and your partner. We trust your killer instincts, Glen Coco. And if you’re still not sure, keep reading for a wee bit of marquee wedding inspo.

A Sailcloth Marquee at sundown

What’s the difference between a marquee vs tipi wedding?

Mainly the magic. Tipis are loaded with the stuff, sprinkling your big day with glitter and beauty and time-stopping ‘woah’ moments that just deliver, time and time again. Dress it up for a party or festival vibe, strip it back for an earthy natural ambience, or fairy-light the sheet out of it for a mystical evening feel. The tipi is your big, beautiful, plastic-free oyster.

Vibe aside and practical shoes on, a marquee vs tipi wedding boils down to the tent itself. Where our Sami-inspired Nordic tipis are made from wood and natural fibre canvas, a marquee is typically made from PVC plastic, or something similar. Our tipis are more cone-shaped from the top down, whereas marquees are typically boxier. Where tipis have one main centre pole, a marquee might have a few bits and pieces holding it all together. You get the drift.

Sailcloth tents are a delightful mixture of both. Woven from translucent sailcloth fabric and matched with wooden poles, soaring peaks and clear side panels, our sailcloth wedding tents offer a shady canopy filled with natural light that shields you from the elements while highlighting the natural environment around you. Tick, tick, and tick.

How to decide on a marquee wedding venue

Lucky for you, Wānaka and Queenstown are a cesspit of ridiculously aesthetic venues. Emphasis on ridiculous. From luxury lodges to rolling fields to hidden lakeside sanctuaries, we’re positively spoiled for choice, and it’s just the way we like it. Extra lucky for you, we’ve also got the lovely owners of almost all these stunning sites on speed dial, and we’d be thrilled to show you around some of our favourite spots. With a side of chai latte along the way, of course.

Three tipis from the side on, under mountains at nightfall

Choosing your marquee wedding decor and theme

Welcome to the fun zone. This is the moment when your Pinterest board becomes a reality, and it’s every bit as glorious as you imagined. Whether you’ve got a themed wedding – think bohemian, festival, nature-nature or op shop fashion – or whether you’re keeping it classy and casual, choosing your tipi or marquee wedding decor and theme is where things really start to shine. Here’s a little something we prepared earlier if you’re after a bit of wedding theme inspo.

For a boho feel, zhuzh up your wedding with some macrocarpa lounge chairs, Kilim rugs or Moroccan poufs. For a festival vibe, it’d be rude not to include a disco ball, dance floor or our festoon walkway to really make an entrance. For a classy, natural aesthetic, string your tipi with hundreds of fairy lights, marquee wedding flowers, fire pits, and then let the tipi do the talking. Whatever your theme, we’ve got a whole range of tipi-specific decor to compliment your aesthetic, so adding some sparkle to your special day is a piece of cake.

Disco ball and fairy lights in a nordic tipi

Is it worth getting a marquee wedding planner?

In a word, yes. Whether you’re after the 8-week out planning package or you’d prefer to go the full monty from ring to cake, nothing takes the stress out of planning your wedding like a marquee wedding planner. Whether you’re the uber-organised, Type A personality or the more ‘see where the wind takes me’ type, a wedding planner is there to help you plan and coordinate all the nitty gritty details, so you can spend more time basking in the good bits. Not to name drop, but Alexandra Kate Creative and One Fine Day are just a few of our favourite wedding planners. Get in touch for our full list of recommended vendors.

Our top marquee wedding tips

Alright, let’s crack into the get-rich-quick, top tipi or marquee wedding tips in Wānaka and Queenstown.

  1. Size matters

If you’re planning on inviting every Tom, Dick and social Sally to help you celebrate your big day, you might want to go the full nine-yards and six tipis on your tents. Or, if you’re after a more intimate affair, one tipi might be the sweet spot. There are loads of different marquee sizes for weddings, so if you’re not sure how big or how many, give us a bell and we’ll help you find your perfect fit.

Sailcloth Marquee

  1. Weather doesn’t matter

Well, it might, but probably less than you think. If you’ve got covered tipis or sailcloth tents, then you’ve already got your wet weather option – you just need to finesse the details. We’re more than happy to help you drum up a wet weather plan, which means one less worst-case-scenario for you to worry about.

  1. Wedding accommodation

If you’re planning a destination wedding, it might be worth thinking about on-site accommodation for you or your guests. Nothing beats stumbling directly from the dance floor to feet north in a warm bed, though this one will depend a little bit on the venue or location you choose for your day.

  1. Light it up, baby

Tipis are natural stunners. Complete with a soft ambience and rustic feel, the only thing that makes these bad boys even better is adding all the fairy lights you can find. Throw in a few warm fire pits and you’ve got mood lighting like you’ve never seen it before. That goes for a sailcloth tent or marquee, too – nothing softens the edges and gets people vibe-drunk better than fairy lights. They’re magic.

Two dancers in black and white with love heart glasses on in a tipi

  1. Cosy seating

Yes, tables and benches will do the trick. But throw in some extra cosy lounge furniture, bean bags, Moroccan poufs or bar leaners to your marquee wedding set up, and you’ve just created a whole new space for your guests to hang out, relax, and gossip about how great your wedding is and what an excellent choice it was to go with Gather & Gold. Nudge nudge.

  1. Feed the people

You know when everyone says weddings aren’t about food, they’re just about celebrating the happy couple? That, my friends, is a lie. It’s definitely about the food. We’ll say it again: yes, food is secretly the best part of a wedding, and yes, people will remember what you feed them. Especially if it’s really bad. 

Lucky for you, Queenstown and Wānaka have no shortage of excellent wedding caterers ready to wow even the fussiest of guests. After a 12-course meal complete with gold cutlery, singing waiters and ice sculptures? No problem. Prefer a good ol’ food truck and caravan bar situation where people can walk, talk, mingle and eat? Consider it done. As long as the food is hot, tastes good and there’s plenty to go around, you’ve done your job.

Hint: Some of our favourite food trucks include Frankie the Nomad caravan bar, Francesca’s Mobile Pizzas, Bernie Caravan Bar, Starbar or Taco Medic in Queenstown. For a fancy-schmancy sit-down meal, Morsel or Artisan Catering might be a better fit, or The Platter Share for great (you guessed it) sharing platters.

  1. Capture those memories

Finally, if it’s an option, spend the extra penny and get a great photographer and videographer to be there on the day. This one is worth it every time. Your wedding day will fly by in a beautiful whirl of love and laughter and chaotic dance floor antics – so make sure there’s someone there who can document all the little details you’ll want to savour for later. Mickey Ross is one of our favourite photographers, or check out Wild in White for an epic wedding videographer.

All in all, your wedding day will be one of the best days of your life. Marquee, tipi, or sailcloth tent, food trucks or fine dining – you really are there to celebrate you and your new life partner. Anything else is just sugar on top. Focus on the important things, and all the little details will fall into place. Courtesy of your handy-dandy wedding planner.

Tipis at night with outdoor festoons and mountains in the back ground


Let’s get this party started

Whether you’re on the hunt for venue inspiration, hoping for an idea of dosh or are ready to plan your very own tipi event, we’ve created an easy-peasy system for selecting your size, exploring our sparkly additions and handing over the glorious details. 

Click on ‘create my event’, cut to the chase via any of the icons below or contact us to talk to a human anytime. We love to chat tipis, tipi tent rental, tipi party hire, tipi wedding venue, tipi birthday party, anything to do with tipis really.

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