A wedding tent is a temporary outdoor structure set up to host a wedding ceremony and reception. Wedding tents provide shelter and shade while allowing an indoor event to occur outdoors.
Outdoor weddings are becoming increasingly popular for couples looking to celebrate their big day, and one of the best ways to create an incredible outdoor wedding setting is with a wedding tent. Tented weddings provide the perfect mix of an epic outdoor location with the comfort and convenience of an indoor venue. Let’s take a look.
Why Are They Great?
Wedding tents come in various sizes, shapes, and styles to accommodate different needs. A wedding tent can be fully enclosed with walls and a roof or open on one or more sides – it’s all up to the couple getting married.
Also, most wedding tent rentals provide the frame tent and heavy-duty poles, along with the actual tent fabric and accessories like lighting, flooring, and decor.
Some key benefits of using this tent for your special day include:
Weather protection: tents provide cover in case of rain, heat, or other adverse weather on your wedding day; you’re free to host your event outside without any worries
Temperature control: tents help regulate temperatures, keeping guests comfortable. Sidewalls can also be added or removed as needed (we’ve written about how to heat your outdoor tent, in case you’re interested)
Customizable space: tents can be set up in venues without permanent structures, and you can decorate the interior however you wish
More seating capacity: tents normally allow you to accommodate more guests than an indoor venue
TLDR: wedding tents are extremely customizable, making them a blank canvas for your beautiful outdoor wedding design.
Types of Wedding Tents
There are a few main styles of tents used for weddings – pick the one that is in line with how you want to organize your wedding:
Pole tents are the most common style, using poles along the perimeter that lift the roof and sidewalls of the tent.
These are also normally the cheapest option and work well if you’re trying to create a more traditional tent look. They tend to be more sturdy and weather-resistant, and their interior is open and highly customizable.
Frame tents get their name from the metal frame that acts as roof and support system. The tent fabric then drapes over the edge to create the shelter.
Frame tents offer a more modern look than pole tents: the roof can be designed to have interesting shapes versus a more standard (and for some more boring) square pole tent. This style works well for more formal events.
Sailcloth tents use fabrics like sails to create billowing shapes and tend to have open walls to allow the sailcloth roof to drape downwards.
This tent style makes a dramatic statement and instantly makes any setting more chic and romantic.
In our opinion, sailcloth tents pair perfectly with outdoor bohemian-inspired weddings, so if this is your thing, we would recommend you consider using these.
Clear Top Tent
Clear-top tents have a transparent roof panel made from PVC vinyl material, which allows natural light to stream through the top of the tent.
These create a bright, airy interior during daylight hours and make any decor and flowers pop. As a bonus, guests can also look up through the transparent panel for unique views of the sky and surroundings (especially by night).
It’s Ultimately Your Choice
While it’s useful to learn about the different types of tents that you can choose for your wedding (otherwise why would we be writing this article?!), ultimately it all comes down to your wedding style, guest count, budget, and venue constraints.
But Why Should You Choose a Tent for Your Wedding?
After all, doesn’t everyone choose churches and sometimes beaches? While that is true, there are good reasons why you could prefer a tent. Take a look!
The Beautiful Outdoor Setting
Tents allow you to design your outdoor wedding venue even if your preferred location doesn’t have permanent event structures instead of being constrained to whatever is permanently set up in a static venue.
With tents, the sky is the limit! Well, not exactly, but you will have a lot of flexibility and available options: you can host your ceremony and reception in a scenic backyard, park, field, or whatever outdoor spot you like & choose.
With a tented wedding, you control the entire look and feel of the space with decor, lighting, rentals, and layout. This is never possible if you’re choosing a church, for example.
Shelter from Unpredictable Weather
There’s always the risk of unpredictable weather like rain, heat, or wind in outdoor weddings. We’ve all been to (or heard of) a beach wedding that was crashed by strong wind. Those things will always happen and we can’t control nature. However, with a tent you don’t have to stress as much over the weather. Why? Because a good tent will protect your ceremony from any adverse natural elements (within reason! obviously your wedding won’t go ahead if there’s a hurricane).
More Guest Seating
Venues like restaurants, ballrooms, and banquet halls have fixed capacity, so if you’re hosting a larger wedding (of for example 200+ guests), finding an indoor venue to accommodate everyone is very likely to be a challenging adventure.
This goes in line with what we said about the flexibility that tents provide: the number of guests you can accommodate is just one of several aspects where tents are king.
Avoid Venue Restrictions
Indoor venues often have restrictions that limit your flexibility for decor, layout, catering, music, etc. With an outdoor tented wedding, and assuming you are reasonable, you are able to avoid these venue limitations.
Additional Space for Activities
Tented weddings provide more than enough room for guests to enjoy activities. You can include designated areas for lawn games, dance floors, lounge areas, buffet stations, bars, photo booths, and more – again, the sky is the limit!
Planning Your Tented Wedding
Okay, you’re convinced and are decided that you want to organize a wedding under a tent. What do you need to think about?
Right Tent Size
One of the first steps in your journey is to decide the tent size that is best to accommodate the number of guests you are planning to invite.
As a rule of thumb, plan for 10-15 square feet per seated guest. Don’t forget to account for amenities like a dance floor, DJ booth, seating areas, food stations, etc, separately. When in doubt, go for a bigger space: few things are worse than having your guests like tuna in a can.
Finally, work with your tent rental company to find the right structure for your headcount. They can help identify the best tent styles and layout options.
While tents provide excellent shelter, rough & adverse weather can still impact outdoor events.
So when choosing a wedding date, you should always keep in mind the average weather conditions. If possible, consider avoiding months prone to heavy rain, storms, or extreme heat.
Finally, you should have contingency plans for unexpected extreme weather like lightning or strong wind that could make your tent unsafe. Always ask the rental company if they also provide any backup indoor options, to be on the safe side.
Permits and Logistics
Confirm whether you’ll need permits or approval to set up a tent in the location you have in mind. Remember that rules vary for public parks, private land, and historic venues.
Pro tip: factor in access requirements for delivery and pickup of the tent and other rentals & ensure there’s adequate space for truck access and equipment setup.
Start Planning Early
This goes for any wedding, under a tent or not.
Make your tent reservation 6-12 months in advance if possible, since wedding tents are in high demand (especially during peak seasons).
Setting Up Your Wedding Tent
The process of actually setting up the tent and preparing the venue is not simple:
The rental company will handle staking the tent, anchoring it and erecting the poles and frames
Any flooring, like wood or dance floors, will be installed; the ground may be leveled
Tables, chairs, and other rentals will be set up as you decide
Lighting like chandeliers and string lights will be hung and tested; electrical connections may be required
The catering team will set up the tent’s food tables, buffet lines, serving stations, and bars
Any cooling, heating, or air circulation systems will be installed if required
The tent will be decorated with linens, florals, signage, drapery, and any additional elements as you designed it (it’s your wedding after all!)
The ceremony chairs and archway will be arranged if you decided to use the tent for both events
A/V equipment like speakers and microphones will be positioned and configured
The head table, focal decor pieces, cake table, guestbook table, and other essential furniture will be set up
Bathrooms, catering preparation tents, and any auxiliary tents will be placed and linked
Don’t forget to schedule enough setup time so everything is ready before your guests arrive.
Decor & Design Ideas for Wedding Tents
Create a Focal Point
Use a captivating focal point like a dance floor with overhead draping, eye-catching hanging lights, vibrant wall decor, or lush floral arrangements to capture your guests’ attention as soon as they enter the tent.
Drape Fabric for Elegance
Consider using layer fabrics like tulle, lace, or gauze to add some texture across the ceiling, walls, entryways, aisles, or backdrops.
Include Greenery Scenes
Plants, trees, and florals infuse freshness and life into any tent setting. Strategically place foliage to soften hard edges and add organic charm.
Use Lighting Effects
Ambient lighting sets the mood. Try string lights, lanterns, twinkling branches, neon signs, candles, up-lighting, dance floor lighting, and creative gobo patterns to give your wedding tent a unique style.
Build Off the Surroundings
Connect to the outdoor world by including nature elements inside: some good ideas include displaying branches, wildflowers and stones indoors.
Add Distinct Areas
Design unique lounge spaces, cocktail zones, activity corners, photo backdrops, and conversation nooks within the tent for guests to enjoy.
We hope that after reading this article, you now understand more why some couples are choosing tents for their weddings instead of the more traditional churches & venues. The flexibility that tents provide is unmatched by any other possibilities, and people are becoming more aware of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size Tent Do I Need for my Wedding Reception?
This depends on how many guests you’re expecting. We recommend thinking of roughly 10-15 sq ft per person seated so, if you’re expecting 150 guests, you should aim for 1500 – 2250 sq ft. Also, don’t forget other areas like buffet lines, bars, lounges, photo booths, etc.
How Early Should I Book my Tent and Other Rentals?
You should make your tent reservation tent 6-12 months before your wedding, especially if in peak season. Other vendors like caterers and florists also book up pretty quickly for wedding seasons, so try to lock in rentals and vendors about a year from your celebration to make sure nothing goes wrong.