The possibilities are endless. On a beach, with panoramic ocean views. In a field, with vintage touches. At an inn, surrounded by gardens and village charm. The versatility of tents allows for outdoor weddings that are part of nature but protected from its whims.
But while a tented wedding allows for creativity and personalization, along with this freedom comes the challenge of ensuring that your event proceeds smoothly and comfortably for all involved. From leveling issues and power to catering and rain, there are many factors to consider when tenting an outdoor space, which is why couples rely on the experience of a tent rental company to guide them.
Ask about the details of your tent’s construction so you know in advance exactly what you’re getting. For example, most rental tent canopies are vinyl with aluminum support frames, while Sperry Tents are handcrafted out of sailcloth and supported by solid wood poles.
“Choosing the style and quality of a tent is just as important as selecting an indoor venue that resonates,” explains Tim Sperry, president of Sperry Tents. “It needs to be a visually appealing backdrop, particularly for photography. The detailed craftsmanship of our canopies is purposeful and reflects the importance of such a well-documented day.”
Whether an outdoor wedding requires one tent or several, it is important to schedule a site check with an experienced crew chief or sales manager to assure that the desired tents will fit properly in the location you have chosen. This in-person meeting is also an ideal time to discuss any leveling issues. The goal might be to site a tent near a home or orient it towards a certain view; however, its ultimate placement might need adjusting due to any interfering slopes.
Positioning a tent on uneven ground requires the installation of a full floor with leveling. A higher ticket item, full flooring provides superior comfort and weather protection as well as level footing.
Dance floor, band stage, buffet and gift tables, and the number of bars all factor into a layout. Even dining table shape affects the final reception tent size. Round 60-inch tables fit very efficiently inside tents and can seat 8–10 guests, so they are a good choice for budget-conscious couples looking to maximize square footage. Long rectangular tables take up more room, particularly if arranged as individual tables with 8–10 guests each. As plans solidify, couples should update their tent company if their chosen table is different than the shape shown in spatial diagrams.
4) The More, The Merrier
Arranging a variety of tent canopies on one property for different uses is a creative way to entertain guests throughout the stages of a wedding day. Opt for a medium oval for an outdoor ceremony, a small round for cocktails, and a roomy oval for dinner and dancing. Other inventive tent uses include cigar lounges, bridal prep, lounge seating, and kids’ play areas.
For an even more whimsical approach, pair a classic ivory Sperry Tent with one of the company’s signature blue star tents, whose navy sailcloth canopies are dotted with white stars.
Catering should be accounted for if an event site does not provide suitable interior space. Usually about 400 square feet or more, a cook tent can be encased in solid sides to shield the working interior from guests. In case of bad weather, it’s a good idea to plan for covered walkways, which can be fully sided, between the main and cook tents.
Overall, caterers are familiar with tented events and will offer suggestions as to their ideal cook tent size. Involve them in the process to make sure their needs are met.
6) Cloudy with a Chance of Rain
No one wants to envision bad weather on a wedding day. However, a gloomy forecast is much more manageable and much less worrisome if contingency plans have been arranged in advance.
“We offer what we call a rain plan for rain-only rental equipment,” explains Sperry. “Items typically include ceremony and cocktail tents as well as covered walkways to connect tents or even a tent to a building. As opposed to a main plan that will be executed no matter what,” he continues, “a rain plan can be cancelled before the scheduled setup day and reserved with a lesser deposit.”
7) Open & Shut
Tent sides are a standard item on rental equipment lists and should not be removed, advises Sperry. “You never know when the temperature will drop or a breeze will pick up,” he says, adding that sides can be installed but rolled up, leaving the tent open to the landscape until the sides are needed.
By Jennifer Sperry
Photo Credit, Top to Bottom: Brea McDonald Photography, Emilie Inc. Photography, Brea McDonald Photography, Kristin Spencer Photography, Geneve Hoffman Photography