Tent Wedding Planning: Venue vs DIY

Tent wedding planning is planning the wedding you want down to the smallest details.  It is possible to change the effect of how the tent feels with decoration, draping, lighting, furniture and other décor that matches the atmosphere you envision for your own unique wedding. It is not always possible in other indoor venue settings where you could be restricted by the fixed atmosphere of building to achieve the feeling or look that you want.


Photo: Anthony Wayne House / Werth Photography


Most venues tend to look the same way over and over again for each event. A hotel looks and feels like a hotel; a country club, a country club. If you’re wondering, “How do I have a wedding that is different from all the rest?” then having a tent for your venue could be the first step to making your dream wedding a reality. Tents are like blank canvasses. A tented wedding can be made to feel like you stepped into a barn, an old fashioned carnival, a cathedral—you name it.


Be In A Natural Setting—Without The Overwhelm

Being close to the outdoors is another advantage of tent weddings that cannot be had at strictly indoor venues. Many couples dream of having an outdoor wedding. The beauty of the land and the feeling of being close to nature and the fresh air are romantic features for a perfect wedding day, and a tented wedding becomes their first choice. But many couples don’t know what details planning an outdoor wedding can require. They figure they will set up a tent in a yard or field somewhere, and then they start to wonder about bathroom rental, landscaping, electric generators . . . with all of these factors to handle on their own, it can often be too overwhelming to even get started.

Semi-permanent tent venues eliminate the overwhelm for couples who want to be close to the outdoors for their wedding. With an established, tented venue you don’t have to handle the creation of a venue from scratch—your tent is already up in the perfect spot, it has electricity, bathrooms in place, a hard floor so you don’t have to gamble on ground and grass, a dance floor (one less thing for you to rent!), and someone on site who coordinates it all for you. A tented venue can also even provide many amenities you will need or want like tables and chairs, a bar, catering, interior design of the tent, staffing, a bridal room, or overnight accommodations and a parking lot for your guests. Convenience instead of overwhelm is what you feel when you think of your wedding day in an outdoor setting that has a semi-permanent tent.


Be Outdoors—and Indoors

The elements can be concerning to couples in the early stages of outdoor wedding planning. They have “what-ifs” that must be addressed, like, “What if it rains?” or “What if it’s really hot or unseasonably cold?” or “What if it doesn’t rain, but it rains the day before and the ground is wet and muddy?” The good news is that if you have booked an established tent venue instead of going the DIY tented wedding route, you most likely have a back-up plan already thought out for you. Framed, semi-permanent tents can be converted to suit the weather. If it’s warm, the venue coordinator can roll the tent sides up for you to let in the natural air and circulate it with fans. Even if it’s raining, the inside of the tent and floor will stay dry with the sides up. If it’s windy, cold or buggy, the sides can remain down to protect you. If there is a chill in the air, having rented patio heaters on hand can help to cozy up your tent with sides either up or down. These kinds of options allow you to be both indoors and protected and still have your dream outdoor wedding.


Photo: Curtis Arboretum / Burkett Photography



In case of rain on the day of an outdoor ceremony, you can have the venue coordinator set up your chairs under the tent along with the reception. Ceremony chairs don’t take up a lot of room when positioned in rows and if your tent venue is amply sized, you will have enough room for both events without being cramped. If you have your heart set on getting married at a certain part of the grounds, say by the creek, it is always possible to rent an additional freestanding tent just to cover your ceremony. But what about walking over wet ground to your reception after the ceremony? Ask if your venue can provide cockchafer service between your ceremony and reception for the bridal party using golf carts so feet stay dry. Good communication with your guests is also important. Let people know to come prepared with umbrellas or an alternate pair of shoes and socks if you expect them to be ready for a possible outdoor adventure. An umbrella is always a good thing to have when attending a wedding, simply for the walk from the car to the inside, and guests will be happy if you give them details to help them plan for the “what-if’s” you have so carefully considered. 




Cocktail Hour

If you are planning for your cocktail hour to be on the lawn of your tented venue, you may have concerns for the bride and female guests who would be wearing heeled shoes at the wedding. Again, communicate to your guests ahead of time how to best be prepared to navigate your wedding. Women can easily slip a pair of ballet flats into a shoulder bag and wear them onto the lawn, changing back into their heels for dinner. They might be happy to have their flats again at the end of the night when they’ve put in an hour or more of dancing! If you make shoe options a common wardrobe feature of your wedding, everyone will feel comfortable with the theme—especially if the bride is doing it too!  


The Floor

One of the best parts of having a permanent floor to your tented wedding is that you don’t have to deal with being on the lawn all night. Tables and chairs won’t sink into the ground, the bride’s gown won’t drag across the grass, and women can wear their heels to look smashing in their dresses. It’s a perfect compromise between the romance of the outdoors and the convenience of the indoors to have a permanent floor under your tent. And if you rent a tented venue rather than having a DIY tented wedding, you don’t even have to think about the floor because it’s already there.


Featured photo by Phillip Van Nostrand Photography



Want to learn more about having a tented wedding? Watch 3 Essentials to Planning Outdoor Weddings and view tented venues in Philadelphia!