Insider Tips on Lighting Your Marquee

How to Light Up Your Marquee Wedding!

If you’re planning a marquee wedding, do not underestimate the importance of getting the lighting right. First things first, you need to consider the overall ‘feel’ you’d like to achieve and what’s going to work with your tables, floral displays etc. Soft and relaxed? Glamorous and dramatic? My job as wedding planner, specialising in marquee weddings, is to listen to your vision and advise as to how best to bring it to life. Don’t underestimate how much there is to think about… it’s likely to be the first time you’ve planned a marquee wedding, but I’ve done it hundreds of times!

Lighting by Luminaire Events – Image Credit Andrew Mardell Photography

All marquees need ‘functional’ lighting, i.e. the main source of light, as well as ‘decorative’ lighting to set the mood and add the twinkle. It’s also necessary to think about exterior lighting. Lighting the outside of your marquee is important for both practical and decorative reasons. I LOVE it when my clients light up trees and outdoor features, it creates such a dramatic and magical ambience. Welcome evening guests with a lit pathway using spike lighting, large lanterns or festoon lighting strung on giant crooks. Also remember to light outdoor bars, terrace seating and smoking areas.Floodlights are good for car park areas and I will remind you about all the boring things too… like lighting up the toilets and having bright strip lighting for the catering tent.

Lighting by Luminaire Events – Image Credit Andrew Mardell Photography

Most functional lighting – pendants, chandeliers, uplighters – are installed with dimmer switches so the brightness can be adjusted to suit the time of day. As a wedding planner specialising in marquee weddings, I’m constantly aware of lighting levels and whether all the lights that should be on, are on!

Below is a guide to the different types of lighting available for marquee weddings:

Chandelier Lighting in a Marquee

Chandeliers are elegant, stylish and glamorous. Choose from brass for a classic feel or crystal/silver/ivory for a more decedent, luxurious look. 

Pendant Lights in a Marquee

A traditional, functional lighting option. Effective in lighting up large spaces.

Uplighters in a Marquee

Uplighters are placed at ground level around the marquee, shining light and colour up the fabric of the tent and offering a warm ambience. The colour can change gradually and subtly if required. 

Festoon Lighting in a Marquee

Festoon lighting consists of large bulbs strung along cable. They offer a relaxed, informal feel and can be incorporated into other forms of lighting, such as paper lanterns. Papakata create amazing festoon walkways with strings of lighting hooked onto giant crooks. They also utilise a combination of matting, beautiful outdoor furniture and festoon or fairy lights to create very special ‘festoon terraces’.

Filament Bulb Pendants in a Marquee

Filament bulbs have a retro feel yet are trendy, modern and stylish. Pendants are effective above bar counters and foodie stations.

Pea Lamp Lighting in a Marquee

Basically, a canopy of fairy lights for the roof of the marquee. Creates a twinkly starlight feel.

Paper Lanterns in a Marquee

Chinese paper lanterns are great for adding colour and light to the roof space of marquees. Dot them around for a subtle look or use lots, in various sizes and colours to create more of a feature. Dimmer

Starcloth Linings in a Marquee

White starcloth is soft, pretty and romantic whilst black starcloth over a dance floor adds drama and a ‘night sky’ feel. 

Spotlights in a Marquee

You can use spotlights to light areas such as the bar, or mounted on the roof, the beam can be focussed on each of your dining tables for that dramatic, ‘awards night feel’. 

Effect Lighting in a Marquee

Think disco balls and lasers for the dance floor. Slow moving points of light covering the roof above the dancefloor gives a mysterious, enticing club-like feel. Relaxed effects such as rippling water wave lights work well for chill-out areas. 

Lighting Rigs  in a Marquee

Lighting rigs work well for stage areas, providing bright feature lighting for special live acts. 

Recommended Lighting Suppliers for Marquee or Tipi Events


As mentioned above, tipi company Papakata create striking festoon walkways and festoon terraces. They can also supply a down-lit circular oak bar which works well as a statement feature. Their hanging elements such as hoops, beams and swings can incorporate a combination of flowers, foliage and lights. They also offer open fireplaces as a central point to their chic seating areas, and a ‘Dance Diva’ package that includes a mirror ball and lit DJ booth.

Papakata Marquee + Lighting – Image Credit Dominic Wright

Luminaire Events

Luminaire Events have executed some incredible luxury events, and lighting is just one area they specialise in. They design and and produce events ranging from intimate gatherings to grand-scale productions. Based in South West London, I have had the pleasure of working with Will and the team on numerous events over the last 12 months.

Lighting with Intent

Surrey-based Lighting with Intent come highly recommended by me. They are experts in their field and they’ll take care of all your power and lighting needs. They’ve got over 20 years experience and have worked on celebrity weddings as well as major sporting events, trade shows and street markets. Because they work on such large-scale events they’re fully geared up and more than happy to design and build a custom solution if their current stock doesn’t meet your requirements.L

As an experienced Surrey wedding planner I use my logistics experience in all areas of the wedding planning process. All the lighting options may seem daunting, but it’s just one area of wedding planning! Please get in touch if you’d like to arrange an informal chat about your marquee wedding.

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