Different types of wedding marquee

What are all the different types of wedding marquee and which one is the right one for you? We know that navigating the options and terminology that surround hiring a tent can be a bit daunting so we’ve tried to make it a bit easier for you!

As makers and hirers of pole tents, we like to try and demystify things as much as possible … which is why we never use jargon and why our website aims to lay everything out in plain English as well having lots of pictures and illustrations.

Even so we’re often asked about the relative pros and cons of the various other types of wedding tents available and so, we thought it might be helpful if we put together a short summary.  Although we’re bound to be a bit biased we’ve tried our best to be objective!

There are 5 main types of different wedding marquee, each with their own distinctive look, in fact they’re so different, you will probably be able to narrow things down straight away based on this alone.

Here is our take on them all …


Were originally made using animal skins and used by the indigenous peoples of North America. Interior space is limited because of the sloping walls so often two or more are connected to make a party space. As they tend to be made from a beige fabric, they are quite dark inside, so we think that they come into their own for winter weddings or at music festivals.

+ distinctive look/festival vibe

+ suitable for winter use

– crouching due to sloping walls

– dark interiors

Frame Tents

Often referred to as clearspan, or just as a marquee. They are constructed of a PVC outer shell fitted into a metal frame on runners. They aren’t really a tent at all but they are suitable for setting up on hard ground (tarmac) and can be attached to buildings which makes them very practical for corporate events. They became popular with hire companies because they are easier to maintain but they usually need to be lined, have become very dated and in our opinion, are far from beautiful.

+ work on hard ground/connect to buildings

+ suitable for winter use

– utility  appearance

– require lining


Felt coverings stretched over bent wood frames, they come from the Steppes of Central Asia and are used by the nomadic people who live there. Their design limits their maximum size as well as making it difficult for them to be connected. They are popular for glamping.

+ winter suitable

+ cosy

– closed in, you are unaware of the outside

– only really suitable for small weddings

Stretch Tents

Modern elastic fabrics can be stretched tight and suspended on aluminium poles to provide a canopy.  Most do not come with walls, so they are best suited to awkward spaces or for use in good weather.

+ work well as awnings

+ inexpensive shelter

– unlikely to have walls

– light does not pass through

.. and now to our specialist subject ..

Pole Tents

The original party tent, probably originating from England (certainly most closely associated with garden parties and weddings in an English summer setting). They have been around for hundreds of years, which is perhaps why there are so many names for them such as .. big top, traditional, circus tent, sailcloth tent or marquee. Pole tents have a timeless, elegant quality which is particularly suited to romance of a country wedding.

+ elegant/romantic

+ light, bright, airy and connected to the outdoors

– need to be set up on grass

– best suited to summer weddings

Not all tents were created equal, so it’s definitely worth spending time to look closely at more than one supplier.

Hopefully, this summary will help you weigh things up. If you’ve decided you’d like a pole tent for your wedding marquee (fingers crossed), then you might be interested to find more about pole marquees here. If you’d like help with hiring a marquee in Yorkshire, Teesside or Northumberland please get in touch or have a look at our guide to Marquee Wedding Venues in Yorkshire for more wedding marquee hire info.

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