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Sailcloth tents set romantic and rustic stage for weddings

Features | March 22, 2016 | By:

Blue Peak Tents of West Chicago, Ill., installed one of Aztec Tents’ Tidewater tents for a lakeside wedding in Oakbrook, Ill. Lighting effects included a leaf pattern and pin spots bouncing off numerous crystal chandeliers over the dance floor.
Blue Peak Tents of West Chicago, Ill., installed one of Aztec Tents’ Tidewater tents for a lakeside wedding in Oakbrook, Ill. Lighting effects included a leaf pattern and pin spots bouncing off numerous crystal chandeliers over the dance floor.

Martha Stewart has shown brides how to personalize their special day with everything from photo cakes and DIY paper fans. All of those romantic wedding photo spreads in her magazine also helped to popularize sailcloth tents.

Sperry Tents Seacoast in New Hampshire introduced sailcloth tents for weddings in the early 2000s. When Stewart showcased them in her magazine, they “caught on like wildfire,” says John Fuchs, general manager, special events for Anchor Industries Inc. in Evansville, Ind.

“Our customers have been telling us for the past year that sailcloth tents are quickly becoming a favorite for weddings,” he says. “The translucent tops glow, and you can do very dramatic things.” Part of the drama, he notes, comes from the ability to vary peak heights.

“Sailcloth tents have brought back an aesthetic of the form of the tent and the natural beauty of light,” says Alex Kouzmanoff, vice president of Aztec Tents in Torrance, Calif. “Go on Pinterest and search under ‘wedding tent ideas’ and you will see amazing images that brides look at and say, ‘I want that for my wedding.’”

Kouzmanoff notes that sailcloth tents have led to complementary “rustic, shabby chic” decor. That may include unpolished wood tables with mismatched chairs, wine barrels and poles made from wood or from aluminum disguised to look like wood.

Tommy Wilson, director of special events for All Occasions Event Rental in Cincinnati, Ohio, says sailcloth tents “lend themselves to a farm or coastal style.” His company bought one in 2013 and now has three: two with wood poles and one with wood grain-finished aluminum poles.

“We have seen a steady increase in demand as they have become more popular on Pinterest,” he says. “We still do a lot of high-peak tension tents, which is a somewhat similar style, but the sailcloth is unique in that it has a transparent top, round ends, and wood or wood-finish poles. It’s just a softer, more romantic feel.”

Classic Event & Tent Rentals of Inglewood, Calif., has half a dozen sailcloth tents and rents them often, especially in California’s premier wine region, where romantic vineyard weddings are common.

“Napa is a good market for us,” says Keith Krzeminski, vice president of strategic accounts. “The sailcloth tent is more of a party tent than an exhibition tent. It’s a look that hasn’t been around for a long time. Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media have driven the sailcloth-tent market.

“From a rental perspective, they are a great product,” he continues. “People are willing to pay a premium for a new product with a stylish feel.”

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