*Blog Special* Barn Linings

A lot has changed since the ‘good old days’ when the whole town turned out to see you get married in the local parish church, then a handful of family members walked back to your house for cucumber sandwiches and tea. Your honeymoon was a caravan in the country, your wedding car was Dad’s Morris Minor. 

Weddings nowadays are an expression – a chance to show off, if you like. Expense is acknowledged with a flippant sniff while you’re out trying to do bigger and better than the next bride. 

Ivory Linings 

We trawl the country for the prettiest hotels and largest stately homes but I wonder, if we’re completely honest, how many of us would actually love to have enough land of our own on which to hold our bash. Posh and Becks did it at home – okay, they weren’t exactly frugal – but it saved them the expense of a venue at least.

The point is, joking aside, you can save money in the unlikeliest of places. For instance, is your local village hall/social club large enough to house your reception but a bit too grotty to consider? Do you or a family member have a barn that’s just crying out for a makeover? This is where a marquee company can help.  

Take the picture (above right) for instance. This marquee looks fabulous, doesn’t it? Ivory pleated wall and roof linings; shiny wooden floor. Suitably lavish to house even the most particular of brides. 

Well actually, it isn’t a marquee at all…. it’s a barn. This barn (pic below left), to be precise.

Standard Barn

Barn Linings

The good news is, most barns can be lined. Sheds without sides, however, will most probably require a marquee structure inside, as linings alone are no match for the elements. You don’t want side winds blowing your nice ivory walls into your mother-in-law’s tomato soup!

If this is an option you wish to pursue, contact a few marquee companies, ask for a site visit, compare the prices and listen to the advice they give. If the company representative sounds like he’s cutting corners, ditch him and go with someone else. Saving a few pounds is less important than avoiding a disaster on the day.

Fixtures and Fittings

While it’s unlikely that the owner of a barn is particularly bothered about a fixing here and there, if you’re hiring a hall/social club, remember to seek permission to have linings before you set your heart on it. Fixings will need putting in place: they will be drilled/screwed in, they may need to be attached to the wall or ceiling (see pic right). Before you get lumbered with a large bill from the venue, find out how the marquee company intend to attach the linings then discuss it with the venue provider. More often than not, they are happy to oblige but you never know. 

Decorate at will.

When it comes to decorating your barn/hall, your options are almost endless. Read Interiors Part 1 on this blog for more ideas, or research marquee linings online. 

Most importantly, use your imagination. Even if you are trying to cut down on cost, you don’t have to stick to the basics to be cheap. Somewhere near you, there’s probably a barn just screaming for a makeover! 

Next Week: Interiors Part 2: furnishings.

by C.Bright  www.gdhire.com


Interiors Part 1: Linings

Blank Canvas:

Now, once you’ve decided on your location and the rough size of your marquee, you have a blank canvas (literally!) with which to let your imagination run wild. 

The marquee itself is basically a large tent, albeit a large and sturdy one, but a portable structure all the same. And unfortunately, it looks pretty much the same on the inside as it does on the out – simple and serviceable. It’s not particularly ugly but it’s not exactly pretty either; certainly unworthy of the sumptuous wedding you have in mind! 

But you have options… plenty of them! Your budget will perhaps dictate the level of lavishness but it won’t necessarily spoil all your aspirations of grandeur:- don’t lose heart just yet. 

No Linings

Brides have been known to shudder at the thought of having a clear span wedding marquee without linings. In fact, I spoke to a mother-of-the-bride the other day who told me her daughter had decided she had to have a traditional marquee, though she didn’t particularly like them on the outside, because she didn’t want ‘fussy’ linings. She said an unlined clear span would look too industrial. 

True, the metalwork would be visible without a lining at all, but just a touch of coloured fabric drapes and a few sprigs of ivy (see pic above right), you can create an illusion of linings without A) the cost, B) the fuss.

Flat Linings.

Nope, not a film starring Kiefer Sutherland: option number 2.

Contrary to popular belief, not all marquee linings are pleated with gathers and swags. You may want to steer away from the frills and have a more casual wedding – in which case, Flat Linings are ideal. On a purely practical  front, they hide the metalwork. On a more aesthetic front, they look light and natural. Decorate with bunting and flowers for the perfect country wedding look. (See ‘country wedding’ pic, far right.)

Traditional Linings.

The most popular choice of marquee linings are traditional. You can choose to have roof or wall linings or both. You may even wish to add coloured swags on each wall section to compliment your colour scheme.  And if you have a marquee with windows (See pic left) roof linings and swags look fabulous without the need for wall linings.

Alternative Linings.  – As with everything, more and more options are opening up for couples getting married. It’s certainly much easier now to be original and wow your guests with something they haven’t seen before.

Printed linings are excellent. Not many people even know they exist so when they see them for the first time, they are always impressed. The picture (left) shows feather linings*, complimented by canary cages and bright flowers.

The effect is clean, bright and classy, perfect for the modern wedding.

– Another eye-catching style of lining is Starlight Cloth:- twinkly lights set into black fabric. Many couples choose to have this over the dance floor area, but an entire marquee roof decorated solely with stars is a stunning sight and won’t fail to bring out the romance in everyone.

Starlight Cloth **

– A cheaper alternative to Starlight Cloth, while creating a similar effect, is Blackout Lining. This is a flat style black fabric roof/wall lining which, when decorated with fairy lights, makes for a magical sight. Perfect for a winter wedding.


Then, of course, if you’re on a budget and perhaps know a seamstress, you could opt to create your own decoration. Thick ribbons or drapes (pic 1) can add a splash of colour where needed. Dot around balloons, bunting, leaves and flowers. Hang fairy lights or icicle lights from the roof steels. Decorate an enormous Christmas Tree in one corner and dim the lights.

Don’t be afraid to discuss money saving options with your marquee provider. They may be able to suggest something you hadn’t considered. The important thing is to use your imagination. Surf lots of lining sites. Look through as many marquee picture galleries as you can. As soon as you see something you like, note it down. If it’s out of your price range, ask your marquee provider to suggest an alternative.

 Remember, they want your marquee to look as fantastic as you do!

(*Linings courtesy of crescent-moon.co.uk

** Linings courtesy of Customcovers.co.uk)




The most fun part of planning a wedding is, of course, deciding who to invite. This will happen in several stages: First, you’ll choose your friends. Then, your fiance will choose his. Then your respective mums will add to both lists the ‘must invite’ family members and perhaps some of their friends. Then Dad will look at the list, sweat profusely, and demand in a strangled voice that you cut it down, probably by half! (Watch ‘Father of the Bride’ and you’ll see exactly what I mean.)

The point is, you have to think of your budget.  Dream weddings are all very well but we all have our limit and no matter how much you’re tempted not to be, you must be sensible. Work out an amount you can afford, assume everyone will cost at least £30.00 to feed, then write your list accordingly. Don’t feel obliged to invite someone you haven’t seen for 15 years. Ask yourself if you’d spend £30.00 on them on any other day. If the answer’s no, leave them off. They’ll get over it.

 And then…

 Once you have an estimate of how many people will be attending (you don’t need to be too precise early on), make a decision on your marquee.

NB: The great thing about a marquee is that you can adjust the size at the last minute. Most marquee companies won’t mind altering your order if you suddenly find 50 of your guests have decided not to come.

This is where a site visit (see Step 2) is advisable. Telling your marquee company that you intend to seat 100 is fine until they turn up to erect the equipment the week of your wedding and discover the site isn’t anywhere near big enough. Ask for a site visit – they are usually free of charge. It will give you a chance to discuss your ideas and for the company representative to tell you what’s possible.

 And book site visits from several different companies too, if you like. That way you’ll be able to see who seems the most knowledgeable, the most organised, the most friendly. Most importantly, find out who’s offering the best deal. If your favourite company sends you a more expensive quote than the others, don’t just give in. Ask him if he’ll match your cheapest offer – the majority of the time, he will!

 Visualising the impossible.

One of the glaringly obvious differences between a marquee and a venue such as a hotel is that, generally, the hotel is in solid form the day you go to view it. When you opt for a marquee, unless there happens to be one in situ on the site of your choosing, it’s hard to imagine how it will look on the day. Don’t Panic! This is where your marquee company can help you. Not only will the more established companies have a bountiful portfolio of pictures to give you ideas, many will have access to an Event CAD programme, with which to create your virtual marquee plan. (see picture above left and above right.)

This offers you a bird’s eye view of everything you wish to include: dance floors, tables, chairs, catering marquees if needed. The 2D images are great to show you how much space you’ll have and how best to position your tables etc. The 3D images give the whole thing substance and can include your colour schemes, carpeting, linings, even lights if you wish. Hard part done…

So that’s it. You have your site. You have your invitation list. You have your floor plan. Now all you have to do is decide what furniture you want. Oh! and the style of flooring you need, the sort of linings you like, your flowers, your colour scheme….. OK, so maybe there are more tough decisions to come but the good news is, the boring stuff is over, now it’s time to get creative!!!!


Wedding Marquee Ideas: Step 1 Selecting the Perfect Venue


 As I said in my first blog, selecting the right venue is not such an easy task.

 There are so many things to take into account, not least your budget.

What do you want? What does your fiance want? What do your families recommend? What horror stories have your heard about other peoples’ weddings? There are bound to be a few! 

 Then of course, you need to think about the weather because, while we all dream of brilliant sunshine and a light breeze dashing across the grass, we know the British climate well enough not to count our chickens. There’s every chance your April wedding pics will be snapped in 6 inches of snow. And it’s just your luck that while your guests sit down to their fillet of beef, hubby and the chaffeur are busy digging an exit for the Rolls.   

 Marquee Wedding: Tip 1   

So there we are, Tip 1, select a venue within easy distance from where you exchange your vows. Civil weddings make the whole thing much easier and in many cases keep everything under one roof.  Unfortunately, in this country currently you cannot  exchange vows in a marquee but that doesn’t mean you can’t get married at an estate chapel then hold your reception right outside.     

Marquee Wedding: Tip 2.

Stately homes are very beautiful but, in the most part, very expensive. Some are also limited by Health and Safety laws, Estate guardians and owners, Trusts etc as to the numbers they can accommodate, others may not hold receptions internally at all. Therefore many offer a space in their grounds on which to site a marquee. (Picture above-right.)   

This arrangement is perfect. Not only do you have the opportunity to celebrate your wedding in such fabulous surroundings, you’re not confined by traditional interiors. Your marquee can be as retro or as modern as you please.  

Marquee Wedding: Tip 3   

If you’re planning a marquee wedding, you have to think about the site carefully.    

First of all, is it flat? Tarmac and short grass are ideal for siting a marquee. Flooring will lie flat and you won’t have to pay additional costs for companies to level out the ground. This also throws up the possibility of not having to spend out on flooring at all – why not be au naturale and just have grass? It’s great for a real country theme.   

Marquee Wedding: Tip 4

Organise a site visit with your marquee company. It’s all very well for you to book a 15m x 20m marquee for 200 guests with dance floor and tables only to discover the site is only 9m x 12m. Most marquee companies offer free site visits but do always check – they may charge if you are out of their local area.

Marquee Wedding: Tip 5

Make sure access is good. A large marquee wedding with furniture, linings, the works, will require a lorry – probably a big one! If your field is sited up a 6ft wide dirt track, don’t be surprised if you have to pay through the nose for delivery. Equipment is heavy and the easier the access, the cheaper it will be for you.

Marquee Wedding Tip 6.

Think about safety. Are there power cables overhead? Siting a marquee under a pylon probably isn’t the best plan you’ll ever have. Nor is it wise to site over gas/water pipes or electrical cables. If you’re not sure, you should ask the relevant people to check it out beforehand. If you don’t and something goes wrong, you’ll most likely end up footing the bill.

And what about if it rains? Is a 10 ton marquee lorry going to find itself sinking into a peaty bog? Is the marquee itself going to get swept away in a flood?

Marquee Wedding Tip 7.  

Ask questions. Find out a little about types of marquee. Is it Clear Span or Traditional? How is it held up? How deep is it staked into the ground? What is it made of?

There are marquees you can buy, flimsy multi-purpose tent-style structures that some companies hire out for weddings. Be warned! They don’t like bad weather. They don’t like much actually and you could end up disappointed. If in doubt, ask to see the sort of structure you’re hiring before the date.


If you’re not sure about a site, ask advice. Many venues are used to accomodating marquee receptions, find out what and where they recommend. If you’re looking at a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, research it properly and consider things logically- if you can’t reach the site easily, there’s no way your marquee company will.

For further information or to book a marquee in the West Country visit www.gdhire.com  

Wedding Marquee Ideas: Intro

  Welcome to GD Hire’s first blog!


 Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some top tips on how to plan your perfect marquee wedding.

Getting married is easy – weddings, on the other hand, can give you a headache. Especially if the in-laws are already sticking their ores in and hubby-to-be is more concerned with the footie scores.


Choosing the right venue is crucial.

You’ve probably had the perfect venue in your head ever since you heard your first fairy story … the problem is, that venue doesn’t exist; you have to settle for the next best thing.

And the next best thing wouldn’t be too bad if you didn’t have guests. While I’m sure you’re happy to shrug and say you don’t care where you get married so long as you’re marrying Mr Right, you’ll swiftly find out that others, particularly your family, won’t share your nonchalance.

The place has to look the part. You could have hired chefs from Claridges but if you’re holding your reception in the old Scout hut down the road, your guests will already have turned up their noses and whispered behind raised hands. Present them with a nice view and they’ll compliment your wine, your food, they’ll even listen to your speeches!


Marquees are versatile and can be sited almost anywhere. Suddenly a field is no longer a field, it’s a venue!

You may already have a favourite spot, a view you’ve always admired, or maybe a relative  has a bit of land in the country. You may just want to hire the grounds of a stately home. Whatever your preference, a marquee can provide you with an option you might not have considered at the age of 8 when wondering if Prince Charming would actually ride up on a white steed.

The Upshot

The point of this blog is to offer advice and inspiration to brides planning a marquee wedding and hopefully to sway the undecided.

Look in next week for Step 1.

The Hollywood Seal of Approval

You can check out our website at www.gdhire.com or, if you need another opinion, watch a couple of Rom-Coms, a marquee wedding is bound to pop up.

Planning your Wedding Marquee