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A Short Bit About me

I'm Spencer King, an ex-marquee erector. This blog is designed to help those running a hire business or thinking of starting. I don't claim to know everything, I'm just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I made! Check out our event planning section for advice on planning your own marquee event. Please contact us if we can help or offer advice in any way.

Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

A few follow up points from last week:
1. Fields are often uneven, if the marquee is booked a long time in advance then recommend the customer has the area rolled before the summer.
2. Apparently the laws on weddings are slackening so you can be granted temporary wedding licences in buildings (you still have to have 4 solid walls)

I came across this interesting article from Chris at Cascade Events who has kindly permitted me to reproduce it in full here:

“Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by our marquee hire clients and it’s not surprising really as a lot of the information available on the internet is contradictory and confusing and none of us want our perfect day to be ruined by a council official telling us it cannot go ahead because of a lack of an event licence.

The short answer to whether you need a licence for your marquee wedding or event is: maybe!

The exact answer depends on a lot of factors which are explained below but don’t panic! If it does turn out that your wedding or event requires licensing then a wonderful piece of legislation called the Licensing Act 2003 which allows for Temporary Event Notices.

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding where the guests have not been charged an admission fee (!) would not require the event to have a licence whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You are allowed to give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

So, what if it turns out that under the criteria above you do need to get a licence? If you need the licence because Cascade are running a pay bar for you then we will look after all of those arrangements and you do not need to worry. If you are running the bar yourself we are still able to organise the licence for a very reasonable fee.

If you would like to do it yourself then it is not too difficult at all:

  1. Make sure you do it in time. You must submit your notice at least ten working days before the event date. We would suggest doing it more like 20.
  2. Go to the website of your local borough / district council (see below)
  3. Locate the Temporary Event Notice application form
  4. Complete the form (fairly straight forward)
  5. Submit to your local authority along with the fee of £21
  6. Await their confirmation of receipt (they normally send you back a stamped copy of the form)
  7. Have the event and have fun!

To assist you here are some links to local authority TEN application forms:

Wokingham Borough Council Temporary Event Notice
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Temporary Event Notice
Reading Borough Council do not have one on their website so we suggest using the generic TEN Application form here.”

Thanks for reading


  • lucie

    Thank you. I've been trying to find out about this for ages and this is the most straight forward explanation I have found!

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