Everything You Need to Know About Renting a Wedding Tent

Your ultimate wedding-tent checklist.

Photography by: Judy Pak Photography

Wedding tents aren't anything like the colorful khaki getups from childhood camping trips. They're elegant, chic, and necessary for most outdoor celebrations. The right tent will protect guests from any unexpected rain showers while providing a stylish backdrop for your ceremony or reception. Here's your guide on all things related to wedding tents.


How to Prepare for Rain on Your Wedding Day

1. Determine if you need a tent

According to Maya Katz, an event planner and co-founder of Alimay Events & Productions, the decision to get a tent should depend on the location of the venue and the season. She recommends that everyone getting married somewhere with unpredictable weather patterns rent a tent, in case Mother Nature decides to unleash a storm. The added rental costs may annoy couples who want to wed in the sunshine, but it's best to have a backup plan. Nobody wants to sit through a wedding ceremony amidst pouring rain and heavy winds. Katz says that some tent vendors offer rain plans with discounted deposits for couples who will only use a tent if inclement weather requires it.

2. Look into permits

Before choosing a wedding tent, check your venue's policy on rentals. Some locations, like private estates or farms, may not allow tents on the premises. Katz also suggests knowing what's located underground at your venue because staking tents can mess with sprinkler systems or irrigation.

3. Choose a tent

Tents come in three main styles: pole, tension, and frame.


Pole tents, the most common and least expensive choice, are lightweight, portable, and easy to install. These elegant tents have small peaks in the center and a downward sloping appearance, due to the high poles in the center of the tent and shorter poles on the outside perimeter. Since the poles must stake into the ground, this type of tent can't be used on concrete or gravel.


Tension tents are characterized by large poles in the center, which make high peaks and a very sloped roof. The sculpted shape of the tent comes from the tension placed on the tie-downs and fabric. Since tension tents often have high ceilings, the interior feels spacious and open. This type of tent stays strong against wind and holds up in inclement weather.


Frame tents rely on a metal frame, instead of interior poles, to hold up the canopy. They're ideal for smaller spaces, since they don't need extra clearance for ropes and stakes, and can be erected on most surfaces. However, frame tents are heavier, more expensive, and harder to install than the alternatives.


Sometimes, choosing the right type of tent comes down to personal preference. Other factors, like your wedding aesthetic and budget, may come into play.

4. Find a vendor

Katz stresses the importance of finding a tent vendor early, preferably right after securing your venue. Chances are, many other engaged couples will be seeking tents at the same time. Call different rental companies to compare styles and get quotes. "It's important to understand what you get for the price of each tent," says Katz. Besides the actual tent, couples may need to pay for delivery, labor, permits, and accessories. The price will vary between regions and companies, but expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for the tent and any added costs.


When picking a tent, make sure the material is flame resistant. Also check that you get liability insurance, and that you understand the cancellation policy. The rental company should make a site visit months before the wedding to inspect the area.

5. Consider the accessories

When planning a wedding in a tent, be sure to think about the other elements you'll need to make your big day run smoothly. These items may include portable restrooms, dumpsters, lighting, tables and chairs, dinnerware, generators, and A/C units or heaters. Many rental companies provide these additional items in their service. You may also need to rent separate tents for the band or catering team.


Katz recommends that all brides consider getting flooring for their tents, since the natural ground can be soggy or muddy. Temporary flooring also eliminates the problem of female guests' high heels sticking into the grass. The bride and groom can opt for full floor that spans the entire tent, or a less expensive dance floor.


For added privacy, or to better protect from the elements, couples can opt for sidewalls that are either solid, clear vinyl, or windowed (called cathedral). They can also rent soft white liners that billow from the ceiling. Although liners effectively hide the tent's framework and create a romantic atmosphere, they can easily cost an additional $1,500.


Tent Decorating Ideas

6. Pitch the tent

If the bride and groom rent a tent for backup in case of inclement weather, they need to make a rain call before the ceremony. Each company have a different rain call timeframe; some require a decision to be made days in advance, while others allow couples hold off until the wedding day (often with a higher cancellation rate).


Tent installation can begin anywhere from days to hours before the wedding, depending on the size of the tent and your venue. Make sure you're prepared in advance, so you can spend your wedding day enjoying your beautiful tent without worry.


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About the Author

Nicole Harris

Nicole fell in love with the bridal industry after a summer internship with Martha Stewart Weddings. Although she's still a couple of years away from tying the knot, she can't help planning her own Big Day. She's crazy about creative DIY décor, classic lace gowns, colorful invitations, and huge (preferably endless) dessert spreads. Until it's time to pick her first dance song, though,...


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