Planning Your Tented Outdoor Wedding

Late spring through early fall, tented outdoor weddings become a popular trend, as milder temperatures offer the potential for a comfortable outdoor wedding with nature offering a stunning backdrop. Tented outdoor weddings also allow couples to put a tent in whatever location they choose (within reason), so they can truly have the destination wedding of their dreams.

Some are attracted to the affordability and choice factor, as some indoor venues may come with higher price tags or require specific vendors to be used in conjunction with their venue. Other couples like the customizability of this option, as a tented reception creates the ability to design a space for any size guest list they desire. Some may choose to hold a tented outdoor cocktail hour as part of their reception, with the main event happening indoors.

Thinking about a tented outdoor wedding? Here are a few things to consider:

Weddings Happen Rain or Shine

No one really wants to think about how the weather might negatively affect their day, but we all know Mother Nature does whatever she wants, and there’s not much we can do about it. However, we can plan for the worst. If there is a potential for a bad storm on the horizon — rain or snow — it’s a good idea to rent a tent where you have the option to add sidewalls if needed.

In most cases, weddings aren’t scheduled with a rain date, so you’ve got to be prepared to say “I do” no matter what the weather decides to do that day. This means making sure you have a tent that can handle whatever the weather may bring — one that can hold all of your guests comfortably, while also protecting them from the elements.

Additional Rental Needs

Wedding Planning Portfolio: Hannah & Justin, Traditional Tented Wedding in Newbury, NH

Having a tented wedding means you can truly create a unique experience that genuinely represents you and your loved one. From the specific setting of the reception and size of the tent to the lighting, table setup and decor, the location and size of the dance floor, and more, you have control over every piece of the venue.

This also means you may need to rent all of these pieces — like tables, chairs, napkins, dishes, silverware, etc. — though you can find a tent rental company to rent all the pieces you need. You may even want to consider finding one that also includes setup as a part of their rental service, so you don’t have to worry about putting everything up and taking it back down.

Where to Have the Ceremony

You may choose to have the ceremony under a tent as well, or in another, separate location, either indoors or outdoors. If you choose to have it under the same tent as the reception, you may have to do some additional setup and breakdown in between the two events, so it’s important to consider whether you have people to help with this, or are able to hire someone to make everything go seamlessly.

Alternatively, you could hold the ceremony in a separate location, either in the open air, under a smaller tent, or even indoors, like in a chapel, or some other special venue that is ideal for the ceremony but might not work for the reception. Some couples may even get married well ahead of the reception with a very small group of friends and family members, and then hold a tented reception on a different day, for the full guest list.

Lighting, Heating, Cooling & Cooking

Customizing your tented outdoor wedding is sure to be a lot of fun, but also comes with a few requirements that most indoor weddings don’t — like setting up electricity for the lighting and cooling or heating equipment, for example. You’ll also need to determine where the food will be prepared and served in a sanitary manner and allow space for a beverage station and restroom facilities.

There are many venues that offer an outdoor tented area for the reception, and also offer access to restrooms and provide electricity. However, if you’re planning to have your wedding in a more remote location, you’ll want to make sure you have a generator for electricity, and a clean space for the catering crew to do their thing.

Outdoor Decorations

Many indoor venues come already decorated for the season, or have such unique features that they don’t require much decorating at all. With an outdoor tented wedding reception, you’ll want to make sure you add plenty of lighting and other unique decorations to make it feel like a special place where two people are committing their lives to each other.

You’ll need to find creative ways to hang and place decorations; just be sure your decorations are located far enough from the edges of the tent in case there is inclement weather, as you don’t want everything to get ruined. Or, just keep in mind when purchasing your décor that this might be the only day you use these items; you don’t want to spend too much money on things that might not make it through the evening!

A Soft Place to Boogie

photo credit: Yuri Kriventsoff

Let’s not forget the dance floor! Dance floors come in different sizes and materials and are certainly worth the investment. With an indoor reception, there’s usually a suitable floor space to designate for dancing, but not so with an outdoor tented reception.

Sure, you can always tell guests to kick off their shoes and dance barefoot in the grass, but there’s something that draws people in about a more defined dance floor. Plus, depending on where your tent is placed, the grass may not be as soft as you like — or it may be too soft, and guests will be tripping and falling in their snazzy outfits.

And if your tent is placed in a grassy area, you may also want to warn any guests planning to wear high heels to bring flats or reconsider, so they aren’t sinking into the grass while they walk around and celebrate your day.

Need Help Planning Your Outdoor Tented Wedding?

Planning a wedding indoors or outdoors requires a lot of work, but a tented outdoor wedding can add a few additional challenges to the mix. It’s a good idea to hire a wedding planner who knows exactly what has to be done to make your tented outdoor wedding go exactly as you always dreamed. Angela Marie Weddings has helped to plan many beautiful tented outdoor weddings and would love to help you plan your special day. Call us today for a consultation!

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