Choose a Tent
All you need to know to select the perfect structure for your outdoor wedding reception.
The top of a tent is typically solid white vinyl, though some types, including pole tents and frame tents (see sidebar), have clear tops.
Clear tops are not advisable for warm-weather events, especially daytime ones, as sunlight through the clear vinyl can raise the temperature by more than 20 degrees compared with outside.
Inside the tent, the ceiling may be draped with fabric to disguise structural supports (as in the case of a frame tent) or to add decor.
Your tent company will likely be able to provide a range of options for illuminating the whole space and for highlighting the tables, dance floor or wedding cake.
Your planner or designer can add any other decorative elements that you’d like, including projection lighting (for patterns or motifs) or fixtures like chandeliers.
Make sure these additional choices are communicated to the tent company. They need to know the weight of the items that will be suspended from the tent.
Always ask tent companies to include heating or cooling options in their first estimate so you are aware of the costs in case of unexpected weather.
Cooling a tent may be as simple as adding fans—hung from the ceiling or attached to the sidepoles.
Heat or air conditioning can be vented in from units just outside the walls of the tent. But be aware that, in this case, the tent must be enclosed on all sides.
Most tents have detachable vinyl walls that may be solid white, clear or windowed.
Clear or windowed walls (with “French” or “cathedral” windows) let in light and allow for a view of surrounding property, though a solid wall is often used along a side facing something you’d rather obstruct, such as the catering tent, restrooms or a busy street.
Walls are often installed when the tent goes up (a few days before the wedding), but can be removed after the interior decor is complete if good weather is forecast.
For the dance floor, you may choose from a variety of looks: parquet wood, black-and-white checkerboard, translucent (over a pool, or lit from below) or hand-painted.
Flooring for the rest of the tent mostly depends on the ground beneath it. Fairly even surfaces may be covered in interlocking plastic tiles, which follow the contour of the earth, or with a simple plywood floor. To level uneven ground, a sub-floor must be built, which is much more involved and costly.
Any floor may be covered in carpet or Astroturf.
A classic tent is usually a pole tent (like the one at left, with center poles supporting the ceiling) or a frame tent (which relies on an interior metal framework). But there are many other types of tents to choose from. Here are some popular options:
Due to its strong metal framework, these are almost as substantial as buildings. They are favored by many designers because they have no internal poles and can be built with very high ceilings, allowing for limitless decor options.