How to Decorate a Marquee on a Budget: Affordable Ideas and Tips

Choosing a Marquee on a Budget

When planning an event, selecting the right marquee can significantly impact your overall budget. While the size of the marquee you choose may be determined by the number of guests, it is a possible great event without breaking the bank.

In this article, we will discuss tips on choosing an affordable marquee without compromising on quality and style.

Types of Marquees

There are various types of marquees to choose from, and understanding the differences can help you make an informed decision based on your budget and requirements:

  • Pole Marquee: These traditional marquees are supported by central poles and anchored with ropes. They are often cheaper but may need extra space for the supporting ropes.
  • Frame Marquee: These marquees consist of a metal framework with no internal poles. They provide an unobstructed internal space and are more versatile but can be more expensive.
  • Gazebo: Gazebos are small, open-sided tents that provide shelter in an outdoor setting. They can be an affordable option for smaller events or as an addition to a larger marquee.

Keep in mind that other factors, such as material and customisation options, can affect the price. It’s essential to weigh up which features are the most important to you and find a balance between budget and quality.

Selecting the Right Size

Choosing the correct size of the marquee is vital, as it directly affects the cost. Consider your guest list, layout, and any additional elements (e.g. stage, dance floor, tables) before making a decision. To help you estimate the size you need, follow these general guidelines:

  • Seated Dining: Allocate around 1.2 square metres per guest
  • Buffet Dining: Allocate approximately 1 square metre per guest
  • Standing Reception: Allocate roughly 0.6 square metres per guest

When calculating the size needed, also consider any additional space that may be required for catering, a bar area, and other facilities. Renting a marquee slightly larger than your requirements can provide flexibility and comfort for your guests.

Remember to compare quotes from different suppliers and consider any potential add-ons (e.g. flooring, lighting, heating) when assessing the overall cost of your marquee selection. By carefully considering these aspects, you can find a marquee that suits both your event and budget.

Budget-Friendly Themes and Styles


A rustic theme is a popular choice for budget-conscious marquee decoration. This style embraces the natural beauty of the outdoors and often uses locally sourced materials. Make a charming entrance by placing wooden crates or hay bales on either side of the entryway, and adorn them with wildflowers or candles. Use wooden pallets for makeshift furniture, such as benches or tables, to create an authentic, countryside atmosphere.

For this theme, focus on earthy colours and textures, like hessian or jute fabrics for tablecloths, napkins, and bunting. Accessorise with mason jars filled with flowers, and repurpose vintage crates or barrels as display units or food stations.


Transform your marquee into a vintage paradise with a mix of eclectic furniture, soft colours, and antique items. Entryways can be embellished with antique birdcages filled with flowers or draped with strings of pearls. Decorate tables with elegant chinaware, vintage tablecloths, and delicate lace.

Some furniture ideas for a vintage theme include French-styled chairs, plush sofas, and painted wooden tables. Consider sourcing these items from second-hand shops or borrowing from friends and family. To achieve this romantic style, use pastel colours, lace fabrics, and nostalgic decorative items like vintage frames, teacups, or books.


The boho theme emphasises a relaxed, eclectic vibe, making it perfect for budget marquee decoration. Incorporate colourful fabrics, plush cushions, and patterned textiles for an inviting, informal seating area. Hang dream catchers, fairy lights, or DIY paper lanterns for an enchanting atmosphere.

Consider installing a Moroccan-style entrance adorned with flowing fabrics and lush greenery to enhance the theme. An essential aspect of creating a boho-style marquee is the use of natural and sustainable materials, which can often be sourced affordably. Embrace a mix of colourful, quirky, and second-hand items to achieve the carefree, bohemian look, and use wildflowers or potted plants as table decorations. This theme is all about being bold with colours, patterns, and textures for an inviting, fun ambience.

Affordable Décor Ideas

DIY Elements

One of the most budget-friendly ways to decorate a marquee is to incorporate DIY elements. Using easily accessible and affordable materials, try creating something unique and personalised for the occasion. Bunting, made from scrap fabric or leftover materials, adds a charming touch to the space while keeping costs low. Also, consider using paper lanterns as a cost-effective alternative to more expensive lighting options. Hanging them in a creative pattern can add a whimsical atmosphere to the venue.

Candles placed in jam jars or glass jars can create an intimate and warm ambience. These can be further customised by adding ribbons, lace or twine to match the theme of the event. Additionally, creating simple flowers and greenery arrangements using seasonal plants helps to keep costs down while still adding a fresh and natural touch to the décor.

Upcycling and Reusing Items

Upcycling or reusing items is another excellent way to save money whilst decorating a marquee. Turn your marquee into a blank canvas and browse local charity shops, flea markets, or even your own home for items that can be repurposed. Framesvases, or antique trinkets can be used to add character to the space.

Balloons also offer a budget-friendly and versatile option for marquee decorations. They can be filled with helium or simply hung around the venue as desired. Experimenting with different sizes and colours can create a festive atmosphere without breaking the bank.

Making the Most of Greenery

Incorporating greenery into the décor not only helps save money but also brings an elegant, natural touch to the marquee. Using plants and flowers that are readily available, such as seasonal blooms from local gardens or markets, adds freshness and life to the event space. These can be arranged in a variety of ways – from simple vases filled with single stems to more elaborate displays involving climbing vines or wall hangings.

Additionally, using greenery in the form of wreaths, garlands or small potted plants can help to fill out the marquee space without having to invest in a large number of decorations. Elements like these can be reused or relocated afterwards, contributing to an eco-friendly and budget-conscious approach.

Lighting Ideas on a Budget

Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are a popular and cost-effective choice for marquee lighting. They can be easily hung from the ceiling or draped around structural elements to create a warm and inviting glow. Opt for battery-operated LED fairy lights to save on electricity costs and ensure a brighter and longer-lasting light.

Festoon Lights

Festoon lights, also known as string or bistro lights, can add a touch of charm and ambience to any marquee setting. These lights usually feature larger bulbs and can be strung across the ceiling or wrapped around pillars to create a festive atmosphere. Choose energy-efficient LED options that are more affordable and durable.

Creative Lighting Solutions

There are several creative and budget-friendly ways to enhance the marquee’s lighting. Some ideas include:

  • DIY Lanterns: Create hanging lanterns using inexpensive materials like paper, ribbon, or lace. Attach these lanterns to fairy lights or festoon lights to add an elegant and enchanting touch.

  • Hanging Decorations: Combine lighting with hanging decorations, such as paper pom-poms or tassels, to create eye-catching focal points. Suspend these decorations from the ceiling or other marquee structures to add depth and dimension to the space.

  • Chandeliers: Repurpose old chandeliers by spray painting them and adding strings of fairy lights or festoon lights. Hang these chandeliers from the marquee ceiling to create a stylish and budget-conscious feature.

  • Christmas Lights: Utilise Christmas lights for added sparkle and festivity. These lights can be woven into fabric draping, wrapped around pillars, or hung from the ceiling to create a magical atmosphere.

By incorporating these budget-friendly lighting solutions, you can transform a marquee into a beautifully lit and inviting space without breaking the bank.

Budget Furniture and Accessories

When planning an event, it’s essential to consider how to best utilise your budget for furniture and accessories. This section will cover two essential aspects: Seating and Tables.


When it comes to seating, there are several budget-friendly options available. One option is to hire or purchase affordable chairs. You can save costs by opting for simple chair designs that are both comfortable and functional. To further reduce costs, consider using rustic materials like wine barrels to create unique seating areas. Some other options for budget seating include:

  • Hand-made wooden place cards
  • Second-hand chairs from local sellers
  • Borrowing chairs from friends or family

Always ensure that you provide enough seating for all guests attending the event.


Decorating tables on a budget need not be a challenge. By utilising some creativity and budget-friendly solutions, it’s possible to create a lovely atmosphere within the marquee. Some ways to save on tables include:

  • Renting or purchasing second-hand tables
  • Combining small tables to create larger ones
  • Using rustic containers and wine barrels as makeshift tables

When it comes to table decorations, there is a range of affordable options available. Table centrepieces can be made from low-cost materials such as foliage, candles, and vintage items, adding a personal touch without breaking the bank. To create an interactive experience for guests, consider setting up a self-serve sweet station using affordable containers and treats.

Menu cards and name places can be created using inexpensive materials like cardstock and printing at home, while guest book alternatives can include personalised message boards or creative DIY projects. Remember, planning is key in ensuring a successful event on a budget, so take the time to research and plan your marquee decor accordingly.

Creating an Outdoor Wedding Atmosphere within Budget

Planning a marquee wedding can be a dream come true for many couples, but it can also present some budgetary challenges. This section will provide ideas to create a beautiful and memorable outdoor wedding atmosphere without breaking the bank.

Catering Ideas

Catering is an essential aspect of any wedding, but it doesn’t have to be expensive to impress your guests. Consider the following budget-friendly catering ideas for your marquee wedding:

  • Food Stations: Set up different food stations to cover various cuisines and dietary preferences. This option allows guests to explore the various options, and it can be more cost-effective than a sit-down dinner.

  • BBQ: An outdoor wedding lends itself perfectly to a laid-back BBQ. This casual and inviting dining option is budget-friendly without sacrificing flavour or quality.

  • Potluck Style: If your wedding is an intimate affair, consider asking guests to bring a dish to share. Requesting specific dishes in advance will ensure a diverse selection of foods, and many will be happy to contribute.

Remember to consider the environment and reduce waste by using eco-friendly tableware and tablecloths for your marquee wedding.

Setting Up a DIY Photo Display

A great memento of your special day is a collection of memorable moments captured by your guests. Create a DIY photo display with these budget-friendly ideas:

  • Polaroid Station: Set up a space with a Polaroid camera, film and props for guests to snap photos and attach them to a large bulletin board or hang them with pegs, creating a personalised, unique collage.

  • Wire and Clips: Stretch wire across two poles and use pegs or clips to hang guests’ photos. You can sprinkle fairy lights to add a touch of sparkle and create an enchanting atmosphere.

  • Monkeys: If you want to add a touch of whimsy and fun to your DIY photo display, include a few monkey figurines or toys that can hold pictures or serve as a quirky props for photos.

Incorporating these budget-friendly ideas into your outdoor marquee wedding will help you to create a unique and unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles on a regular basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read! Contributing author

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