If you are getting married outdoors, you must have a contingency plan in case of rain, heat, wind, or other natural elements.
All of these factors may affect your outdoor ceremony or reception.
If you're reading this, you probably have quite a few questions about renting a tent and what to do in case it rains on your wedding day.
Some commonly asked questions I get asked regularly:
What happens if it rains on my wedding day?
Is there space to move the party inside the house I'm renting?
How much does a tent cost?
All of these are great questions, and I'll do my best to answer these for you below.
First, let me start at the beginning...
When should I start searching for a tent?
You should do this when you first start planning your wedding and selecting a venue.
Why should you start looking for a tent this early?
Well, lets put it this way...
If you are only a few days away from your wedding and the forecast says rain, the last thing you’ll want to do is find a tent at the last minute.
Why you ask?
1) Chances are high that you aren't the only one looking for a tent at the last minute.
There are other couples in the same situation, and only so many tents available! Lack of supply + high demand = a premium price tag.
2) Do you have room in your budget to afford one? If you're days away from your wedding, you've probably spent almost every penny of your wedding budget, or more.
Think about how much better prepared you will be if you’ve already left an emergency budget for a tent. Tents cost a pretty penny, and can push you far beyond what you wanted to spend on your wedding.
Can I just move the party inside the house?
Most private estates will not have indoor space available to host your ceremony or reception, so a tent back up plan is a must!
While some estate owners will allow guests inside their homes, it is more for access to bathrooms, rather than throw a party inside.
You won't be able to fit ten or more tables inside any one room to host your reception, just like you wouldn't be able to do that at your own home.
Some estates that we work with will only have the property grounds available for events, so indoor access isn't even on the table.
Do I really need an emergency tent budget?
Here are a few reasons why...
7) Cold temperatures
8) Relief from stressing about this later!
Even if you are getting married in San Diego in June, chances are slim that you will need a tent, but anything can happen.
It might not rain, but what happens when a dense fog rolls in, or if your city is faced with record temperatures?
Fog can really cause a mess, and a tent can keep your guests dry and warm.
While cooler temperatures might be bearable for an outdoor event while the sun is up, once night falls so does the temperature, leaving your guests shivering.
A tent can also keep your guests out of the hot sun, and if you provide an air conditioning element, you guests will stay cool and ever grateful.
The time of year will be a great indication on whether or not a tent will be needed.
If you are getting married in a cooler climate in November, you will definitely want a tent with a heating element.
Your emergency tent budget is there to keep you sane and stress free!
A tent should never be "Plan B."
What size tent do I need?
This may seem like a simple enough question, but lets break this down a bit.
Answer the following questions:
1) How many guests do you expect to attend?
The amount of guests will dictate the size of the tent.
General rule of thumb that we recommend:
If you have up to 100 guests - a 30x60 canopy
Up to 140 guests - 40x60 canopy
Up to 200 guests - 40x80 canopy
2) Does the location you are choosing have ample space for a tent?
Some outdoor spaces might be skinner than they are wide, so the size of your tent may be dictated by the space you have available.
Get proper measurements of the space so there aren't any surprises later on.
3) Other than dinner tables and a dance floor, what else will you need to fit under the tent?
Do you have a Photobooth? DJ? Band? Buffet? Bar?
All of these will also need to be under the tent.
If you can no longer have your cocktail hour in a separate area of the property, you may want to have a larger tent to accommodate a special cocktail area with cocktail tables and lounge furniture.
You also may need another covered area or tent for for your ceremony, if you are having this at the same location.
Your caterer will also need to be covered by an additional smaller tent close to the event tent.
The catering tent doesn’t need to have the same bells and whistles of your reception tent, but should have at least three walls.
How much does a tent cost?
Breaking down the cost of a tent is no easy task!
There are a lot of elements that go into the price of a tent, but here are the tools you will need to understand the cost, and what to expect.
Lets start with a few basics.
Here are a few questions which can get us started in the right direction.
Questions to ask your venue:
1) How many hours do I have for set up and strike (breakdown after the event)?
You’ll need to go over the amount of hours included in your estate rental.
How many hours do you have for set up before the event starts?
Oftentimes tents can take anywhere from 6-8 hours to construct on site, and about half that to breakdown.
You may need to add additional hours (or even days) for either set up or strike if possible.
2) Can I pay for additional hours/days for set up or strike?
If so, how much per hour, or how much for an additional day or two?
If your rental period starts at 10am on the day of the event, you would want to add on additional set up hours starting earlier in the morning so you can ensure that your tent is fully constructed by the time guests arrive.
If you have to pay for a tent, you might as well have it ready early, instead of cutting it too close!
If you’re having your event in a residential area, your event will probably end at 10pm.
After an evening event, you will only have a couple of hours to have everything packed up and off the property.
You cannot have loud trucks and vendors working all hours of the night to break down the tent.
You may have to consider keeping the tent up until the next day.
3) Is there a power source if my tent requires heating or air conditioning?
Most estates would require a generator to power the heaters and air conditioner inside the tent, as the home might not be able to supply enough power to it.
Questions to ask your tent vendor:
I get this comment often:
I've received a quote for much cheaper than what you've quoted me. Why?
The likelihood is very high that they haven't received a full quote from a vendor.
It's practically impossible to look up a tent on a rental website to understand the full cost.
All of these factors below need to be taken into consideration.
Once you’ve chosen a private estate to hold your wedding and reception, you will want to schedule a walk-through will all of your vendors including the one supplying the tent.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions and get a quote after they've seen the space.
1) What size tent would you recommend?
Once they've seen the venue and know your event details, they can recommend the right style (Frame or Pole) and size tent for you.
2) How many hours will it take to construct the tent? How many to take it down?
They do this for a living, so they should be able to give you a very accurate quote.
As I mentioned above, it may take between 6-8 hours for set up, and half that for strike.
The amount of people needed to construct and deconstruct the tent will also affect the number of hours of labor needed.
3) What is your estimated labor cost?
Labor will account for a huge percentage of your tent budget.
Be sure this number is included in your quote.
You should get this estimate after your vendor has actually walked through the space.
4) What are your delivery/pickup fees?
It is important to factor in the delivery fees in your tent cost.
This may increase if the vendor is traveling from a farther distance.
5) Do you have a cancellation policy? How do you handle last minute orders?
If a tent is your back up plan, you may want to check to see what the cancellation policy may be.
You may be able to cancel the tent and only lose your initial deposit, if you cancel early enough.
Another important questions to go over is what they do with last minute orders.
You’ll want to clarify what the cost estimate will be to add a tent to your order the week of your event.
They may only have a limited supply of the tent that you really want, so you may need to open your horizon to a new option if you the one you want is sold out.
Remember, you aren't the only client looking for a tent for that weekend since every outdoor wedding will be scrambling for a tent as well.
Expect to pay a premium for a last minute order.
6) How long is the rental period?
You may only have the day, or you may have a week.
How long you need the tent, may affect the cost.
7) Is the tent I am ordering weatherproof?
Most will be, but wouldn't it be awful if the tent you paid for wasn't able to shelter your guests from the rain?
8) Are there any other costs or details I should know about?
Your tent may require a permit, and you may need to have a Fire Marshall present during set up to make sure it is erected properly.
These may be additional fees.
What type of tent is best for me?
There are two main types of tents available for rent:
A pole tent works best on a grassy area, as it is secured with stakes.
There will be at least one center pole supporting the tent.
A frame tent can be placed on relatively any surface.
There are no center poles to obstruct your view and event layout.
What add ons should I consider?
Add ons will add more cost to your tent, but in my opinion, they are worth it.
1) Liner and Draping
The lining and draping are what covers the structure of the tent as you'll see in the image of the Emma Estate above.
The fabric draping adds elegance and a touch of class where it is much needed!
Pole covers can also help to blend in with the fabric draping.
White tents and white draping are going to be the most common and affordable option, but you can add colored lighting or colored fabric for an accent.
2) Side Walls
Side walls are great if it is cool or if you are expecting rain.
You can probably do without side walls if you live in a warm climate or if your tent is purely decorative.
The side walls help keep in the heat, but will also block any view you have at the property.
You may not think adding a full floor is important, but let me tell you why it is.
Lets just say it has been raining all week and you just set up your tent and the grass is soggy and your shoes are getting wet and muddy and sinking into the grass.
If you add a full floor beneath you, your guests won't have to deal with uncomfortable wet shoes and you actually will increase your dance floor area too.
You can customize these with a white floor, or go with the traditional oak floor.
Chandeliers are popular options in a white wedding tent, and another great option is stage style lighting and up-lighting.
If you've really been planning on having market lighting, and a tent was not something you planned on having at your wedding, you can still string market lighting inside your tent.
Now that I've asked these questions, how about some numbers?
For this exercise, let's say you are getting married at the Hacienda Hermosa in San Diego, California in November and will have 120 guests.
Pricing in San Diego may be very different from other locations, so make sure you take that into account.
The Hacienda Hermosa's rental period starts at 10am on the morning of your wedding day and everything must be off the property by 1am following the event.
They also include the delivery fees, fire safety package, and permits in their tenting package which takes a whole lot out of the guessing game.
The Tent Structure:
You would like a classic white frame tent.
You've chosen a 40x60 tent.
The basic structure for a 40x60 tent can range anywhere from about $3,500 to $5,500.
This includes fabric draped poles and the canopy liner in this quote.
The tent you've decided on is $5,000.
Extra Set up Hours:
You're a little worried that the tent won't be constructed in time if it is started at 10am.
Plus, you just saw the forecast that it might rain on the Friday evening before your wedding day.
You've decided to have the tent constructed on Friday morning at the Hacienda Hermosa.
This venue charges by the hour for the tent set up.
They charge $100 per extra hour needed for set up beyond your rental period.
Since you're setting up on Friday, and your tent takes 6 hours for set up, an additional day will be $600.
- + $600.00
Since it may rain, and it will be pretty cool that evening, you want to add side walls to keep your guests warm and dry.
Side walls with the french windows will cost you about $350-450.
Most side walls will charge you by the foot (starting around $1.50 per foot without labor), and in this case you will need 200 feet.
Your side wall total comes to $415.
- + $415.00
Now you need to figure out your lighting options.
You can either go with market lighting, chandeliers, or par lights (think stage spotlights).
You've decided to do a mix of par lighting (which are attached to the frame in each corner) and have crystal chandeliers.
The basic package that you've chosen is about $500 and each chandelier you chose to add will be another $125.
You've decided you want two chandeliers.
Chandeliers can range anywhere from $100-500 before install.
- + $750.00
You're having a DJ and heaters for your tent and you will definitely need a generator.
Depending on the amount of power you will need, this can cost anywhere between $600-1,250.
Your generator is about $800.
- + 800.00
Just in case the grass will be wet, you've decided to add a full floor under the tent.
Flooring can range from around $2,000-10,000.
Once again, the Hacienda Hermosa has factored in labor and fees into their pricing, and the solid oak floor will cost you about $3,000.
- + $3,000.00
This is a basic tent, no bells and whistles and costs you about $1,000.
- + $1,000.00
It looks like when everything is said and done, this tent will cost you about $12,000 before service fee and tax.
A few other things to think about:
Find out if labor is included in your estimate.
Remember that this is not usually factored into these items, but we have factored it into the numbers above.
A Service fee will also be added, which covers the cost of doing business and is not a gratuity.
After going through these numbers, you'll see why it is essential that you should leave room in your budget for an emergency tent fund.
Most clients aren't going to have an extra $10,000 lying around for their estate wedding, so make sure you've factored the tent into your wedding budget from the beginning.
If you don't need it, great!
You'll save thousands of dollars!
But if you need one and you are only days away, this cost can skyrocket.
We hope that this article was helpful and informative.
Are you planning to have a tent at your wedding?
We'd like to hear your thoughts about the process!