Four tented weddings showcase seasonal decor—and preparation for all
kinds of weather.
By Holly O’Dell
Every bride and groom hopes for perfect weather on their wedding day. But tent rental companies know to be prepared for any scenario in any season—strong winds, precipitation, extreme temperatures—and work to ensure the perfect day regardless of the forecast.
Here are four tented weddings from across the United States that highlight considerations for planning and designing a wedding in different seasons.
Autumn in Minnesota can mean a colorful feast of changing leaves set against a backdrop of crystal blue skies, with ideal temperatures and a faint crispness in the air. But catch this season on a bad day, and high winds and cold rains force even the hardiest people indoors.
For a late September garden-themed wedding on Lake Minnetonka near Minneapolis, a bride sought a tent for the rehearsal dinner and cocktail hour at her childhood home. The ceremony itself would take place on a hill overlooking the water and its scenic surroundings, and the reception and dance were slated for a country club one-half mile from the house. To enhance the wedding’s garden motif, the client selected a 20-by-30-foot sailcloth tent from Sperry Tents, “something different from the norm for outdoor tented weddings in Minneapolis,” says Andrea Bach, event specialist at AprÃ¨s Party and Tent Rental in Edina, Minn.
The tent installers overcame a few challenges on the site, including space constraints and mounting the structure on the patio. “We ended up having to cut some of our side poles and place them on top of the stone landscaping wall to accommodate the rest of the other perimeter poles,” Bach says, noting that the move was necessary to secure the tent top while also complementing the visual effect.
One thing the bride did not seek, however, was a backup tent for the ceremony. “She didn’t want the guests to have to be bothered with the rain, so Plan B was to go to the country club for the ceremony,” Bach says. “We lucked out. The weather cooperated all weekend, and we were able to go with Plan A.”
The tent—which hosted 70 guests for the rehearsal dinner and 235 attendees for the cocktail hour—featured rectangular tables with chiavari chairs to help with the space limitations. A florist provided paper lanterns as well as floral hangings in the tent to augment the garden atmosphere.“The bride was absolutely thrilled with the final outcome,” Bach says.
For a June wedding in Washington state, a bride and groom chose to marry on a family property overlooking Samish Bay with a theme of simplicity and elegance.
Jeff Watts of Pacific Party Canopies Inc., Bellingham, Wash., used Party CAD to lay out a floor plan for 225 guests. He suggested a 60-by-60-foot tent, but the groom selected a more budget-friendly 40-by-60-foot Epic pole tent by TopTec Event Tents and banquet-style tables.
“It was a very tight calculation in the 40-by-60, and we all were crossing our fingers for nice weather,” Watts says. “If the weather cooperated, we could spill tables outside and open up the tent and make it a little more inviting. But if the weather didn’t agree, we could still fit everyone inside and make it work.”
Two days before the wedding, a ferocious windstorm came in from the west off Puget Sound, accompanied by rain pouring down on the installers. Fortunately, by the day of the wedding, 70-degree weather and sunny skies had returned.
The newlyweds hosted 208 guests, which allowed
them to drop a table or two from the tent and open
up the space.
“We had the capacity to fit everyone in, but the nice weather allowed people to sit outside in the sun or stay in the tent and enjoy the shade,” Watts says.
Decorated with simple flower arrangements and paper lanterns, the tent featured a natural grass floor with a 12-by-16-foot oak dance floor by California Portable Dance Floor Co. In addition to icicle lights, Halo lights were installed on the center poles, which were draped in the same fabric as leg drapes and liners. The combination of fabric and lighting distributed soft illumination into the top of the tent. Lights were set up on rheostat dimmers, making the light adjustable to set the mood throughout the evening.
Thanks to proper planning, Pacific Party Canopies delivered exactly what the couple wanted. “They had very low stress and were really happy with their
wedding,” Watts says.
The month of March in the California desert averages 80 degrees, but daytime temperatures can easily rise higher while evenings cool into the lower 50s. For a tented wedding at the historic Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, Classic Party Rentals of Palm Springs made sure to plan for both extremes.
The clients wanted a cathedral wedding, but it was impractical given the Smoke Tree reception site. Instead, they decided to create their own churchlike structure, using a 50-by-100-foot Fastrack® tent accompanied by a 15-by-50-foot frame canopy for the entry and orchestra.
The four-day installation for the Classic crew included navigating a tight gravel area and creating a carpeted step between the entrance and the tent. To keep guests comfortable, Classic Party Rentals used two 25-ton air conditioning units and another five-ton unit from Aggreko along one of the tent’s sidewalls and also provided heaters around the stage outdoors.
New York City-based Lewis Miller Design adorned the tent interior with full cloth swagging, chandeliers and elaborate floral and plant arrangements around the carpet-wrapped altar and lining the aisle. Classic Party Rentals supplied Chameleon Chairs’ Bella Fleur Vintage Ivory collection with ivory-stretched knit cushions for seating, along with the wood floor with bisque carpet.
The indoor and outdoor reception decor featured fruitwood chiavari chairs topped with white cushions, two oak dance floors, and bar and lounge furniture from Designer8* Event Furniture Rental. Tabletops included hand-stitched napkins and crystal wine and water glassware.
After the ceremony, the couple couldn’t help but linger in the wedding tent. “They almost missed their entire cocktail reception because they just couldn’t get enough of what had been done,” says wedding coordinator Laurie Lund of The Events Department, La Quinta, Calif. “They just sat there, taking it all in.”
For an October wedding in Great Falls, Va., a mother of the bride wanted to take advantage of the gardens and grounds on the event site while limiting the amount of level flooring required to seat 150 guests. The location had a few obstacles.
“The yard was restricted by a multilevel pool with contoured gardens, and there were also fountains,” says Davis Richardson, owner of Sugarplum Tent Company in Boyds, Md. “At first, the client had considered tenting over the pool, but this option was still limited by the fountain and trees.”
In the end, a 40-by-50-foot clear structure tent was installed over the driveway and side yard for the dinner and reception. A 25-by-35-foot clear structure with connecting marquees was set up on the rear terrace deck for dancing and cocktails, and a small bump-out clear tent off the lounge tent housed the bar.
The season was reflected in dark wood chiavari chairs with light green cushions, green and gold table linens, antique floral china plates and crystal and gold stemware. In the main tent, black event carpet was installed over laydown plywood flooring. The decor highlight came from the bride’s mother, who created the centerpieces from her own rose garden, supplemented with commercial roses, “tall and majestic floral pieces with white roses—truly a gift from the heart,” Richardson says.
Sugarplum also provided white pin-spot lighting and the starlight effect in the tent ceiling, all of which was placed on dimmers—an effective lighting combination for clear-top tents, Richardson says. To take the chill off the crisp autumn air, Sugarplum used L.B. White 170,000-BTU propane tent heaters.
Sugarplum left nothing to chance, and the preparation paid off. “The client was thrilled with the look and execution of the event,” Richardson says.