Plan an Outdoor Wedding to Remember with Tents & Party Rentals

 Tents and rentals to enhance any bridal theme

By Laurie Higgins

Couples getting married today want highly personalized weddings and there is no better way to achieve that than with a tent. Tents allow couples to take advantage of a gorgeous view, whether it’s on a bluff overlooking a beach or in a field at their family’s summer home. Conversely, a tent can block out a less-than-ideal view by adding sides, which allows couples to create a dreamy ambience inside the tent.

“The whole idea of a tent is you can create an atmosphere that reflects your unique style,” says Don Raposa of ABC Rent-A-Tent in Westport, Massachusetts. “Your wedding can be different from any other event that you’ve ever been to. It’s a blank canvas and you can create an incredible atmosphere inside.”

There are a lot of options for tents and the best one for your occasion depends on location, personal preference, time of day and time of year.

Bill Corcoran, owner of Newport Tent Company, says his company offers block-out vinyl tents and sailcloth tents. Sailcloth tents are translucent, which lets in the sunlight. That can make them hotter during the day in the summer months, but they have a beautiful glow at night. He says the shape of the tent is a consideration as well. A vinyl tent is squared off and most sailcloth tents have rounded sides. The result is you lose valuable square footage with sailcloth tents because you don’t have the extra space corners provide.

In recent years, Newport Tent Company has been favoring a hybrid tent that takes the elements people like about a sailcloth tent, like natural wooden poles and swoops, peaks and flags, and combining them with block-out fabric that is cooler in the summer and also has squared-off ends for more space. “Last summer, that was definitely the preferred wedding tent,” he says.

At Chase Canopy in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, they offer both lighter-weight sailcloth-style tents and white vinyl block-out tents. Styles include oval Tidewater sailcloth tents with rounded ends and center poles, rectangular Century-style tents with high peaks and frame-style tents, which are ideal for locations that don’t support tent poles, like patios or decks.

“Clear tops are very popular these days,” owner Andrew Chase says. “They do let the sunshine in so we don’t use them in July and August because they would be very hot, like a greenhouse. But it’s a very nice look. You don’t feel as closed in or claustrophobic.”

Sandra Frechette of Quality Rentals in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, says they have hundreds of sizes and several styles. All of their tents are made with waterproof heavy-duty canvas.

“We have different side walls to choose from,” she says. “We have clear sides, we have solid white sides and then sides with windows. The windows are the most popular. They provide that castle look. With a tent, you can make a venue look like a ballroom or you can go simple as well.”

Sperry Tents specializes in authentic sailcloth tents supported by solid wood poles. They are designed by fabric architects with a demonstrated sailmaking background and are made by hand in an energy-efficient post-and-beam barn in Rochester, Massachusetts, by local craftsmen. Marketing Director Jennifer Sperry says their tents have sweeping panels of genuine sailcloth topped by waving pennants, making them naturally elegant inside and out. They also don’t require extra draping to hide seams or aluminum poles.

“Couples can choose between two signature styles of Sperry Tents: traditional ivory or blue star, which features a navy blue canopy dotted with white stars,” she says. “For a bit of whimsy, some couples opt for a blue star cocktail or lounge tent next to an ivory reception tent. We also provide classic wood flooring and dance floors, creative lighting options like bistros and paper lanterns and practical accessories like fans and generators.”

Most tent rental companies also offer other necessities such as tables, chairs, linens, dishes, lighting and flooring; the ones that don’t will have a referral list of preferred vendors to guide couples to trusted sources. Current popular trends include onion lanterns or bistro lighting to create a magical ambience and farm tables. Farm tables are more expensive than regular tables but don’t require linens beyond a table runner and napkins.

ABC Rent-A-Tent’s Raposa says that couples who can’t afford farm tables for the entire event often use a couple of strategically placed ones for the head table, buffet table and dessert table. He has also noticed a trend of setting up real furniture, such as couches, loveseats or upholstered chairs, in areas like a lounge.

Even though it is more expensive, more couples are opting for wooden flooring for the entire tent rather than just a dance floor, an option that guests wearing heels can appreciate.

“One of the things about the design of tents is that you can be eclectic and mix things up,” says Raposa. “The list of possibilities is incredible.”

Photos #1, 3-4: Courtesy Newport Tent; Photos 2, 13-14: Courtesy Quality Rental; Photos #5-7: Courtesy Chase Canopy; Photos 8-12: Courtesy Sperry Tents

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