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From country chic to carnival cool, wed serves up some styling tips for a personalised party under canvas words Hannah May

Dan Ward

CANVAS CRUSH World Inspired Tents

Blue Fizz Events

Sarah Lauren

Wedding world has fallen hook line and sinker for the joys of a celebration under canvas. From luxe, twinkly palaces to freshfrom-a-festival party pads, each week sees a new wave of canvas constructions popping up across the length and breadth of Devon, housing the most personal of parties in extraordinarily beautiful locations.

Keith Riley Inspire Hire

And therein lies the appeal. From cliff-top to


countryside, a marquee wedding allows you to celebrate your wedding in a stunning setting, while

From the drama of the north coast to the picture-perfect shores of

affording you a great degree of flexibility. And then,

the south, Devon’s coastline makes a stirring backdrop for a marquee

of course, there’s all the fun of styling it: a marquee

wedding – so it’s little wonder that beach weddings are all the rage.

provides a brilliantly blank canvas upon which to impress yourselves and your coupledom in the

Showcase the county’s natural surrounds by staging a cliff-top, beach or

most imaginative of ways.

waterside wedding with a marquee featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and let the views form a striking and endlessly romantic backdrop.

The wedding industry has responded to our


craving for canvas with a mass of inspired ideas,

Style up your tent with driftwood décor, lantern lighting and a scattering of

looks and décor that will ensure an oh-so you day.

shells for a blissful take on beach style. Set up a fire pit or bonfire along with an

We’ve delved into the latest looks and tent trends

evening barbecue and take the celebration outdoors for a bona fide beach party

to help you get started…

complete with a firework finale.


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VINTAGE CHIC Whether you envision an art deco extravaganza, fabulous ‘50s party or a nod to ‘70s disco, mash eras and influences for a personalised take on vintage. Borrow from a variety of times and trends to form your own quirkily individual aesthetic. Think tin can floral centrepieces, jam jar cocktails, kitsch cake stands, antique candelabras, themed dressup boxes complete with a photo booth, upcycled furniture and vintage typewriter in place of a

Life Photographic


Inspire Hire

Inspire Hire

Hang vintage umbrellas, lampshades and lanterns from the ceiling and create cosy corners with shabby chaise longues and vintage tea sets. Sprinkle antique curiosities, pictures and old-school games around the venue, which will provide popular talking points and entertaining asides throughout the day.

Harrera Images

Harrera Images

Inspire Hire

Dan Ward

Life Photographic

Natalie J Weddings

Natalie J Weddings

Ben Selway

World Inspired Tents

Natalie J Weddings

Debs Ivelja

COUNTRY COOL Rolling hills, sweeping valleys, majestic moorlands – Devon has it all in abundance. Tap into nature untamed with a marquee set amidst the rural landscape or dress up your canvas with some country cool and bring the great outdoors inside. Rustic styling such as hay bales, mismatched china and pretty floral bunting sets a sweet country scene, while leafy patterns, animal motifs and rich earth tones Sarah Lauren

lend an understated, old-school country charm. Consider muted metallics or a touch of sparkle via votives, lamps and tabletop décor for magical ambience, or opt for twee country fete style with gingham print tablecloths, cake tables, sweetie stations and wooden-framed family photos. “For the perfect English country garden theme, add branches using our beautiful twin wooden king poles, adorn with green foliage and suspend ribbon-dressed glass jars from the branches with tea lights for ambient mood lighting,” advises Tracy Edwards of Blue Fizz Tents and Events (, whose beautiful and versatile range of natural cream canvas marquees (pictured)

Green Photographic

Ben Selway

look equally pretty in a rural or coastal location.


feature | STYLING | CANVAS CRUSH World Inspired Tents

World Inspired Tents

Blooming Photography

Blooming Photography

Blooming Photography

COLOUR POP Green Photographic

From fairground to circus and festival to theatrical, the rise of eclectic, bright and busy parties has seen an explosion in

Sarah Lauren World Inspired Tents

colourful styling and dazzling entertainment options. From playground rides, piñatas and ‘Punch and Judy’ shows to sketch artists, comedy stand-ups and clowns, simply throw your favourite things together for a spectacularly colourful and unashamedly crazy show. Blooming Photography

Giant signs and letters are one of the hottest accessories du jour; couples are spelling out their anagrams, entire names or sweet sentiments in huge illuminations, while bold and bright backdrops including cut out photo boards, giant artworks and photo scrapbooks are also top trending features. Suspend a canopy of vibrant paper lanterns, paper pom-poms Alan Law

or balloons for a colour-pop statement. “Be bold and brave

Sarah Lauren

with colour combinations set against the backdrop of a neutral cream,” says Tracy Edwards of Blue Fizz. “For spring, combine

World Inspired Tents

freesia yellow and white with a touch of lime green and, for summer, team zesty orange with fuchsia pink.” Consider dressing your canvas with candy bright stripes, colour-punched monochrome or a clashing rainbow riot for ultimate impact.

Kirstin Prisk

A QUESTION OF CANVAS Don’t know your tipi from your traditional pole marquee? Let Wed introduce you to wedding world’s top trending tents

Traditional pole marquee This synthesis of wooden poles and natural canvas makes a stirring sight.

Sarah Lauren


Perfect for a vintage theme or rustic, festival vibe, a traditional marquee affords endless opportunity to put your unique twist on the design.

Achieve the fairytale factor with a wedding dripping in details. Take your most-treasured love

Clearspan marquee

story as your styling cue and design your very own

Comprising a framework of aluminium poles covered in white PVC, a lack

Cinderella story for an enchanting event fusing

of centre pole and guy ropes means a clearspan marquee can be erected on

fable and fantasy to spellbinding effect.

hard ground and difficult locations. It also offers unrestricted space inside and is particularly resilient to extreme weather conditions such as strong winds.

Wrap foliage around the poles and place tall potted plants or a series of trees draped with fairy lights


throughout the marquee along with trails of tea

A visually striking and flexible option, a number of tipis can be linked

lights and bowls of floating candles. Meanwhile,

together to create the perfect celebration space. The open log fires make

fragranced candles will circulate your favourite

for a cosy winter wedding under canvas, while the sides can be raised for an

scent and accentuate ambience. Go woody with

airy and open space in summer.

patchouli or sandalwood or meadowsweet floral with lavender or jasmine.

Geodesic dome With a distinctive, futuristic appearance from the outside and an elegant

A series of tipis or Mongolian style yurts perfectly

series of vaults and arches from the inside, a series of interlinking geodesic

portray the look and allow a meandering of guests

domes makes for an inventive twist on the marquee theme.

in and outside to savour the woodland setting. Use the exterior to extend your theme; you might hang



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Mongolian yurt

pictures from tree branches, create outside picnic

Comprising a wooden trellis frame, slatted wooden ceiling and waxed cotton

and sitting spaces and woodland walks scattered

canvas, a domed Mongolian yurt smacks of bohemian style.

with fairytale details.


TOP TENT TIPS Start planning your marquee wedding armed with these practical pointers

Location location location. Think carefully about the site of your marquee. “It is possible to put a marquee nearly anywhere, but a flat, well-drained site with water and power supply make it much easier, and possibly cheaper,” comments Elle Winsor-Grime of Inspire Hire.

The layout lowdown. Plan the position of those must-have features carefully. “Think about where the toilets will be sited; you don’t want guests having to walk miles across a muddy field. The position of the bar is important – remember you might have a crowd at some points – and ensure the entry to the kitchen is easy and efficient for the caterers,” affirms Elle. Also consider the logistics of the evening reception. “Will you need to move tables for dancing? If so, decide on the best ones to remove for ease and speed, and ensure someone knows when and how to do this.” Emma Solley

Set the scene. Consider creating separate areas for the various stages of the day. “This adds interest to a long day, and allows you extra scope with decorating spaces in different ways,” says Elle. “Consider a welcome area, a main dining area and an evening reception area. Revealing additional areas of the marquee throughout your day will add a real sense of theatre!” Spaced out. Carefully plan the available space before you go overboard on the guest list and entertainment. “Features such as a large seating area, sweet or dessert tables, a gift table and a photo booth all take up extra space,” says Elle. “Discuss all your plans and requirements with the marquee company so that they can recommend the right size for you.” And don’t forget about the waiting staff. “Remember to allow enough space between tables for catering staff to work without too much of a ‘squish’,” advises Blue Fizz Events’ Tracy Edwards.

Emma Solley

In the zone. Create a chill-out zone for guests to relax during the evening revelry; opt for vibrant floor cushions and bohemian lanterns for a Moroccan vibe, hay bales for a rustic theme or comfy sofas, vintage furniture and retro lamps for a living room mood. Floored and fabulous. Examine the surface of the marquee site and ascertain whether you’ll need solid flooring. “Carpet colours can really enhance the look of a marquee but remember a pale colour will get dirty quickly,” says Elle.

Emma Solley

Inspire Hire

Table time. Think about issues of height and proportions when it comes to table décor. “If you have a very tall marquee and very low table centrepieces, the space between can seem cavernous. Think about using different heights of table centrepieces to break the eye line across the expanse,” advises Elle. “Décor hanging from the ceiling can also be used to create interest. How about birdcages full of flowers or paper pom-poms?” Styling shrink. Don’t underestimate the amount of time and work that goes into preparing a marquee. “It will always take a lot longer than you think. Consider hiring a wedding stylist to take some of the pressure off the day before the wedding,” advises Elle. “As well as a full styling service, Inspire Hire offers a service where we help you ‘Do It Yourself’ with minimum stress and effort!”

Pretty personal. A marquee wedding is a brilliant opportunity to celebrate your personalities and passions. “Think outside the box,” advises Elle. “I ask couples to give me a list of the things they love when designing their wedding. We try to incorporate these things into the décor to create a truly unique scheme that is really personal to the couple.” Tipi talk. Tipis create an atomospheric space to style. “Some of the most visually stunning events have used the tipi poles for flowers, foliage, bunting and fairy lights, which accentuates the shape of the tipis and provides maximum impact,” comments Layla Gant from World Inspired Tents. “Create your own Pinterest boards to bring your ideas together.”



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Emma Solley

Keith Riley

Keith Riley

GLAM SLAM Up the ante and throw a marquee wedding positively oozing glamorous detail. Go all-out for sparkle; think lofty candelabras, magnificent chandeliers and tables dripping with pearls, glittering table runners and a multitude of candles, creating a spellbinding scene as dusk falls. “Think about decorative elements that create the wow factor. Designer Ghost chairs create a huge impact and also create a feeling of space,” advises Elle Winsor-Grime of Inspire Hire ( “Feature lighting can be used to highlight a dance floor or top table.” Sometimes less is more: keep it simple with a crisp white palette, lush clusters of flowers and sleek monochrome accents for pure sophistication. Dance the night away on a black and white chequered dance floor.


in the garden Amelia and Niall Rather ironically, Amelia and Niall first laid eyes on each other when Amelia was trying to set some friends up on a date at Westway Climbing Wall in London. “Niall spotted me at the wall and purposefully climbed the route beside me,” she says. “He persuaded me to give him my email address and the rest is history.” Niall popped the question on a sun-drenched North Devon beach. “We were very lucky as were treated to the most glorious sunset that night which made it even more special,” comments Amelia. The pair instantly fell for the beautiful setting of Monks Withecombe, with its pictureperfect English country garden and views across Dartmoor. World Inspired Tents’ tipis perfectly set the tone for their relaxed woodland wedding. The day’s base colours were white and pale pink with a touch of blue, while touches of tartan signified Niall’s Scottish roots. Flowers were central to the look, and a multitude of beautiful blooms dressed the party space, from roses and ranunculi to lisianthuses and delphiniums. “We added hanging birdcages from the ceiling of the tipis with ivy trailing down which gave the impression of floral chandeliers,” says Amelia. Her dreamy St. Patrick gown was customised with a multitude of dainty details and her bouquet – a pretty cluster of white and soft pink blooms – typified the English country garden and woodland mood. Meanwhile, Niall’s dapper kilt and jacket reflected the Scottish dimension of the day. A friend’s performance made for a standout moment during the church ceremony. “Our close friend Aurelia Boase sang a traditional New Zealand love song called ‘Pokarekare Ana’, which was incredibly romantic and moving,” reflects Amelia. Guests then arrived at Monks Withecombe to a Pimm’s, champagne and tea party and a local fiddler and accordion. The menu was chosen to reflect the couple’s heritage – Amelia was born in New Zealand and Niall in Scotland – alongside some local ingredients. Heralded by bagpipes played by Niall’s uncle, guests feasted on the likes of gravlax, lamb rump and a dessert trio of kiwi and passion fruit pavlova, chocolate tiffin with Maltesers and marshmallows as the wedding cake and New Zealand hokey pokey ice cream. An interactive set from live band 29 Fingers – which included several songs in fancy dress and guests joining in on additional instruments – went down a storm. “As the evening drew to a close, we remember looking out at everyone and they were all smiling, cheering, dancing and looked like they were having the time of their lives!” reflects Amelia on a standout memory. “It was so special for us to have all our friends and family with us, who had travelled from all over the world, looking so happy! As for advice for couples in the throes of planning, Niall advises: “It’s your day so listen to what everyone advises you to do and then do what you want anyway!” Amelia adds: “Try not to stress too much about the weather, it will be a fabulous day regardless!”

Photography Sarah Lauren Photography Venue Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Chagford followed by Monks Withecombe Dress St. Patrick from Surrey Brides Bridesmaid dresses Make-up Flowers Amy’s Flowers Entertainment 29 Fingers



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