Have you been tasked with planning an outdoor wedding? Nuptials in a natural setting have the potential to be beautiful, highly personalized affairs for a couple and their guests; the lack of a traditional indoor venue means you have the freedom to design a completely unique party experience from location to layout, and lighting scheme to libations. Whether it’s on a beach or in a backyard, a wedding tent can transform a raw outdoor landscape into a functional space; a one-time-only custom venue in which family and friends can comfortably celebrate the union of two loved ones on their special day (or night).
But before you dive into dreaming up floor plans and floral arrangements, you may want to consider some essential questions of space, surface and structure in order to select the type of wedding tent that will best suit your outdoor party needs. While they come in all shapes and sizes, the most common and basic variations usually fall into two categories: pole tents and frame tents.
As its name suggests, the pole tent is supported by one to several poles that create elegant, mountain-like peaks along the top of the tent’s silhouette. Pole tents are typically placed over grass, as they must be staked into the ground; this means they cannot be set up over hard surfaces, like concrete.
If a pole tent is ideal for your outdoor location, be sure to take the high ceilings and positioning of the pole(s) into account when plotting seating arrangements and lighting schemes. For example, you can incorporate a tent’s poles into the wedding decor itself - garnish them with flowers, lights or other party decorations - or simply use them as general markers to divide up the wedding space as you wish.
Another common option for wedding receptions is the frame tent, which is a versatile option for outdoor events. Unlike pole tents, frame tents can be set up on a variety of surfaces, such as grass, pavement and decks. They are freestanding and do not require center poles for stability; rather than stakes that cut through the interior space, peripheral supports ‘frame’ the structure without obstructing the reception layout.
While pole tents can provide more vertical space, frame tents make up for what they lack in ceiling height overhead with more square footage on the ground. Additionally, frame tents provide an open floor plan around which you can completely customize a party space to your liking. Want to maximize the room you have for a dance floor, photo booth or band or DJ? A frame tent might give you the space you need to factor these party essentials and more into the layout of the reception.
Does Your Wedding Tent Need Side Walls?
No matter which tent type you choose, one important additional question to ask is whether or not you want to add side walls to the perimeters of your tent. Side walls help make the reception area more intimate and can protect wedding guests from the unpredictable and undesirables of the great outdoors, including rain, wind, intrusive sunlight or even unattractive sights near the reception area that you would like to block from view.
It’s crucial to consider the wedding day weather and make the appropriate tent shape, material and accessory decisions accordingly when planning an outdoor celebration. If you do decide to add side walls to either a pole tent or a frame tent, note that neither must have walls added on all sides of the structure - you can choose to ‘seal’ certain edges with side walls and leave others open, depending on your desired layout. Both pole tents with side walls and frame tents with side walls offer additional security against the elements to outdoor weddings that some couples may prefer.
Pulling an Outdoor Wedding Together
Once you have settled on the type of tent that best suits your needs and location, you can make decisions about more specific tent details, like the fabric of the tent and the exact size you’ll need based on the anticipated number of guests and desired square footage. It goes without being said that for many, a wedding day is one of the most important and sentimental milestones in a lifetime. And for those who envision this occasion in an outdoor setting, a wedding tent provides the foundation upon which the entire celebration is built.
No one would pick just any fabric for a wedding gown or table linens, so why settle for subpar tent material? Quality fabrics ensure that your wedding tent stays durable and beautiful. Download our free whitepaper, ‘Why It's So Important for Your Wedding Tent Rental to Have Quality Fabric’ today.