How to Have a Tented Wedding Reception

Which type of tent is right for you?

For a romantic outdoor atmosphere that still shields your guests from the elements, there is nothing quite like a tented wedding reception.

Photo: Carlos Baez, Heartstrings, and Joe Buissink Photography

For a romantic outdoor atmosphere that still shields your guests from the elements, there is nothing quite like a tented wedding reception. Not only will it protect everyone from the rain, but it also gives you that classic look seen in so many wedding movies – think Father of the Bride or My Best Friend’s Wedding. Often tented celebrations are associated with backyard nuptials, but they can also be utilized at country clubs, farms, and any event space with large enough grounds. We even featured a wedding with a tented reception held in the field at the elementary school where the bride and groom met! While it may seem as simple as finding a large plot of land and renting a tent, there are plenty of factors to keep in mind. 

what you need to know to have a tented wedding reception

Photo by The Day; Planning & Design by Mindy Weiss Party Consultants

For starters, you’ll want to find a rental company for the tent very soon after you decide on a venue. If you chose a space that has hosted weddings before, they will likely have recommended vendors they have worked with in the past. This is a great route to take, as the team will have experience setting up in the area. You’ll also have to make sure the ground is flat enough to accommodate a tent. In most cases, it is a good idea to add flooring as well. At the very least, renting a dance floor is a necessity. 

Tension-pole tents are the most popular options because they are the most aesthetically pleasing, although plenty of couples still choose to add elegant draping to the ceiling. If you do not have soft ground to stake poles in, a frame tent is generally a better choice. Just keep in mind that these tend to be more expensive, even before the additional expense of lining the interior in order to cover the framework. Fabric tents, usually in white, achieve a classic look for the reception, while modern brides have made great use of clear-top tents. These look stunning when embellished with twinkle lights, but are not advisable for warm, sunny days. 

While plenty of couples go into planning expected a tented reception, many others use the structure as a backup plan for inclement weather. If you go this route, it’s a good idea to make sure sidewalls are included as well, particularly for rain. On colder nights, including a heating system will do wonders for the comfort of your attendees. Air conditioning may be necessary for summer weddings, particularly in regions with high humidity. 

For more advice, find out why so many couples prefer low centerpieces and see pretty patterned linens for your tablescapes.