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Barn Wedding vs Marquee Wedding

Barns and marquees are the two most popular venues that I photograph. Both of these styles attract a rather creative couple as both tend to be a blank canvas that you can decorate and style to create a specific feel and atmosphere for your day. But what are the pros and cons of each of these venues and do either favour a certain style of wedding? Here is a checklist of questions to ask yourself while debating between the two.


Do you want a traditional English vintage tea party? A festival feel? A whimsical, romantic affair or a gritty, quirky affair? The joy of both of these style of venue is that you can dress them to reflect the day that you want, but in my experience if you are looking for something a little more whimsical, romantic, traditional, tea party esque then a marquee suits that style absolutely perfectly. The beautiful white draped background perfectly compliments pink roses, vintage tea cups, bunting and chevalier chairs. If you are aiming for something a little more rustic & gritty or quirky and bright then a barn wedding could help. The background of real wood, old brick and high ceilings perfectly compliments earthy tones, hessian, rougher textures be it hay bales, tractor wedding vehicles, old iron lanterns or a hog roast.


In my experience a marquee requires more work! It is worth it though, you get a real wow factor with a beautifully dressed marquee which is hard to find in any other location, but you are working from a totally blank canvas. White draped walls and a floor and that is it. You need to think about all the extras that you will need - a bar, lighting, toilets, a dance floor, a catering area etc. But again, this means that you have full control over all of these elements - want a vintage bar made from 2 old beer barrels and railway sleeper - you can have it! Want a low seating and beanbags area to create a nighclub feel for the evening you can have it! Want individual peonies hanging from the ceiling - its yours! But, YOU have to organise it, though often marquee companies are able to supply all of the above.

WIth a barn, even if you do the bare minimum of decoration it will still look beautiful due to its architecture - huge real wood beans, beautiful rust red brickwork, wooden flooring, huge windows, whereas a blank marquee looks kinda sorry for itself until you have worked your magic on it.


A marquee is generally more expensive. Due to the fact that you have to pay for each of those extras I mentioned above - toilets, bar, flooring, lighting etc etc. At a barn most of that is included and you can often get a package deal with the food, drink, canapes all included - one price and you have paid for the majority of your wedding in one go. BUT, with that comes less flexibility. The cost may add up for all those extras with a marquee but you can design the day exactly as you want it. You can hand pick one supplier to do canapes, a cocktail company to do the drinks, a michelin starred chef or fish and chips for the meal. You can have a tea party with sandwiches and cakes made and bought by all your friends. You can buy all the booze yourself so no-one has to pay for a drink all night. These flexibilities are often not available from barn venues.


This works both ways. Nothing beats a beautifully decorated marquee on a warm, sunny day. It is perfect, an immediate ambience is created - crocquet is played on the lawn, champagne is served, an acoustic guitar is playing under the trees, children are running around under your feet - you can picture the scene right? Now what happens if it rains? Do you have a plan for that couple of hours before they sit down to eat? Is there somewhere people can go that is dry and warm? Will the atmosphere be flat if the weather is rubbish? Make sure you have a good plan of action if it pours down all day, you don't want to have a rain plan that is a bit crap, hoping and praying for sunshine.

With a barn venue - does it have the facilities to make the most of nice weather? Many places are perfect for the darker, colder months with comfy leather sofas, wood burning stove, Autumnal colours - but if the weather is nice you want to be able to encourage the guests outside. Do they have a large outdoor area? Can you decorate it nicely - if people are going to spend most of the day outside you don't want all of your styling to be inside and go un-noticed. Will there be enough seats outside for people? Make sure your venue works perfectly whatever the weather


Go and visit venues and marquee companies. Go to as many as you can, and get a feel for the place. Can you imagine yourself standing there saying your vows? Can you picture your friends at that bar drinking jaegerbombs and designing cocktails? Can you see where Great Aunt Mabel will be sitting watching the day pass by in comfort? What feels right? What will create the ambience and feel of the day that you desire? Ask to look at albums of whole wedding days at that venue so you can get a feel for what a full day looks like, it can be hard to imagine when looking at a blank canvas. And go with your heart. You might surprise yourself with what you choose.

And of course you can create a romantic style in a barn and a rustic feel in a barn, this is just what I feel each venue lends itself to more naturally. But with a little imagination you can create your perfect place in any venue. For your free list of suppliers with a rather more unique and quirky offering then sign up for my newsletter.

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