Post # 1
My FI and I are almost certainly having a reception in a tent. Our wedding will be outdoors (unless it rains, in which case it will be under the tent) and is taking place in mid-spring in Vermont, when the weather at that time can be either super warm and dry (it usually is, and has been for the past several years. . .thanks climate change) or rather chilly. We are definitely having our wedding in May– the time of year is important to us– but I wanted to get some suggestions on how to make the reception as comfortable as possible for everyone!
Comments on another thread got me a little worried about what people think of tented receptions, but that’s what we’ve got to work with (we would love to have our reception in a barn, but all barn venues I’ve checked out in our area– and I’ve gotten quotes from many– are significantly over our budget and the rental of tent + equipment would be, for us, a lot cheaper).
So, how did you make your guests comfortable? What would you have done to make the tent nicer/better? As a guest, what have you appreciated seeing when the rception is in a tent?
Post # 3
@Creiddylad: I considered having a tent wedding for awhile, but ultimately didn’t want to deal with all of the extra work (and luckily, we have a good budget). I know one thing my mom was really adamant about when we thought we were going the tent route was flooring. That way, if it rains or something, no ones heels will be getting stuck in the mud (and even if it doesn’t rain, heels in grass are a pain, too). Heating or A/C is probably the best option for comfort, but I know that can be really expensive. What about some large fans? They may not look the nicest, but if it keeps people comfortable, it’s probably worth it.
Post # 4
I had a tented reception and it was fantastic! There are tons of things you can do to help make sure your guests have a great time. Since you’re planning in May it’s hard to tell if you need to plan for cool or warm.
- Try to spread the word that things will be taking place on grass so ladies might want to avoid heels.
- You might also consider making things a bit less formal and more casual. It’s easier to dress for appropriate weather if you’re not worried about formal wear.
- Provide sunscreen and bugspray (the nice floral smelling kind). We got lucky and didn’t have any bugs at our wedding but we went to a wedding in the Adirondacks a couple years ago and everyone was super grateful the couple had thought to set out some nice smelling bug spray.
- Mentally prepare yourself for bad weather. I told my dad when we started planning that I’d rather be in a tent in the rain than in a ballroom, so it was definitely the right decision for us. But you have to be okay with a certain amount of unpredictability when you plan outside.
- Spread the word that it gets cool at night so ladies might want a wrap
- Realize not everyone will remember – get some cheap pashminas that you can set out for people to grab. These can be wrapped around the shoulders or put over the lap.
- You can also rent those tall gar heaters you see at restaurants – but be sure it’s in a well ventilated area (I’m not sure if these can actually be under a tent or if they should be reserved for a side seating area).
- SHADE IS YOUR FRIEND. Seriously. This is the most important thing. Make sure guests are in the shade for the ceremony and reception
- Refreshments. I had ice water, lemonade and iced tea available before the ceremony at @lolot had a full blown cocktail hour before the reception (which is awesome!). This keeps people hydrated and cool
- Fans – I made our programs into hand fans. It was easy and very useful
- Timing – if you pan your event later in the day, it will give it a chance to cool off
- Seating/socializing area outside the tent – the tent can be loud from the DJ and hold heat because it has a roof. So it’s nice to have some social space outside the tent where people can can relax, chat and cool down.
Tent wedding come with their own challenges and they aren’t easy, but I am so SO SO glad we went this route for our wedding. It was just what I wanted. If you have any other questions – feel free to PM me!
Post # 5
@JenGirl: Thank you so much!! Oh my, you are awesome! This is all super helpful information. I would also much rather be married under a tent outdoors than in a reception hall (ugh!) or even a barn.
Those are all great tips. I’m going to save this in my wedding planning file for future reference. Conveniently, there is a discount clothing store near us that usually has beautiful pashminas for very little, so that will be easy to do. And there are many local herbalists and little businesses around here that make nice-smelling bug spray, so that will not be that hard to find, either. 🙂
Post # 6
@JenGirl: And wow, those are beautiful photos. I’ve been kind of struggling with the idea of how a tent will look, but your pictures reminded me of how lovely they can be!
Post # 7
I’ve been to a tented Vermont wedding in early July and one thing I remember was the amount of bugs/mosquitos. Not sure if May would be nearly as bad but maybe see if there are tents with screens or netting to let air in/keep bugs out? I didn’t want to use bug spray because I can never get the smell out of clothes and certainly didn’t want it on a dress that I wanted to wear again (even if it was just a sundress).
Post # 8
- Wedding: August 2015 - Backyard Forest
Have a basket of scarves/pashminas, get heaters, firepits if you can
I went to a wedding in a tent that was FREEZING cold and I really wish there had been a place to warm up.
Post # 9
My only advice is to make sure there are enough tie downs if you need to enclose the tent. I went to a tent wedding where there were not and the wind picked up and blew away several chairs and some of the food!
Post # 10
@Katepants: The bugs are one reason we’re having it early in the season. In mid-late May, pretty much the only bugs are the black flies, and there aren’t many of them yet and they go away at night. But we will provide bug spray. 🙂
@missamysmiles: I am worried about the warmth factor. I imagine we will be renting a heater. . . the museum grounds we’re having it at do actually have a fire ring near where their tent site is, so we could potentially have a fire if they allow it.
Post # 11
@Schatzie821: Oh, yikes! Good point–duly noted!
Post # 12
@Creiddylad: We are having a tent reception May 17 in northern NH. Dont stress too much! Unfortunately its not something you can determine in advance as far as weather etc.
Our tent has sides that tie down, they have held torrentual downpouring rain receptions in it with no issue. They have heaters on site in case we end up needing one to rent as well.
Post # 13
@Creiddylad: Yeah. It helps to keep a list of all these things you think about. I had approximately 18 thousand google docs and spreadsheets about the wedding. It might have been slight overkill. And thanks for the photos compliment. We had a really great time and the outdoor setting was perfect. Really helped the homey, casual, family kind of vibe I was going for. And I definitely went the basic route with the tent. The lady at the rental place was kind of shocked when I told her I didn’t need pole covers. She was all “But the poles are just ugle grey metal without the covers” and I was all “Yeah, I get that, I’m okay with that. If people are paying attention to the poles, I’ve got bigger issues!”
Post # 14
Love that there are other brides out there having tent weddings! My fiance and I actually own a tent rental company, and have done MANY weddings. Ours is also going to be under a tent, and even though I know all the ins and outs, im still freaking out about weather.
If the property allows it, have your tent set up a day or two early. This way if it rains, the ground under the tent is less wet.
The tent company should have specific heaters for under a tent. We can only use certain types of heat under a tent, and the rental company should have them available if needed.
For my graduation party in the middle of summer where there were LOTS of bugs, I used tiki torches to surround the whole tent. They looked super pretty, no one smelled like bug spray, and they worked great! No bugs! I also used citronella candles as centerpieces, not ideal for a wedding, but as the night goes on, you can always add them to the tables!
Post # 15
We had a great big tent for our reception! It rained on our day, so we ended up with most of the sides up…grrr. Regardless, I mentioned on our wedding website that avoiding heals and dressing in layers would be a good idea. We also ended up with a toilet trailer, basically super nice port a potties, but they were not your average ones. And we had baskets in each of the restrooms, with bug spray (which due to the rain was unneeded), sunscreen (again, unnneeded), deoderant, hairspray, etc.
Since it rained, we didn’t have to worry about bugs, but our plan was to wipe down all of the tables with bleach lysol wipes before putting the cloths on, which supposedly keeps away the bugs.
Post # 16
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
@Creiddylad: As a one-time Vermonter, I would be a little worried about the temps and the mud in May. Can you plan to start your ceremony a little early (maybe 3?) and have an earlyish dinner (5?)? That way, the party would be going for a while before it got dark and chillier. In my experience, you do tend to start losing people once it’s dark and cold. A fire pit is a great idea, although of course you can’t have a ton of people around one fire. We started ours up at midnight or so and although it was chilly, probably around 50 degrees, we were all toasty.
And as you know… VT spring can often equal mud season. I’d make sure your location is not in a low spot of the field, and try to get flooring if possible.
Also, all the lines that attach to the tents turn into serious hazards when people are drunk and it’s dark. I’m pretty sure I tripped over some myself. So you want to have lots of lighting near those. And just lots of lights in general, so that people can find each other and find their drinks and find you. And I love the look of a decorated tent – you can really make it festive with paper lanterns or garlands or lights or whatever.
In general, yay for tent weddings! It’s a hassle in a lot of ways, but it makes for a super fun scene.
Here are a couple photos:
Tent decoration and my BIL
Somewhat hazardous trip lines!
@JenGirl: love these photos!!