Tented wedding reception, featuring bright white sailcloth tent with tied back draped entrances on a well-manicured golf course
Pro Tips

19 Tent Wedding Ideas & Tips from Top Industry Experts

All the Tented Wedding Advice You Need
BY C&C EDITORS / 01 08 20
Photo by Gayle Brooker

There are few venues as versatile as a wedding tent. Maybe you attended a swoon-worthy tent wedding reception and had an aha moment, or perhaps you stumbled across wedding tents while researching different venues for your big day. Regardless of how you decided a tent wedding was the right fit for your special day, there’s a lot couples need to know about wedding tents. Not only do the types of tents vary considerably, but there are also plenty of tent wedding ideas you should be aware of before you commit to one. With so many details to consider, it’s fair that putting together a tent wedding reception can feel a bit overwhelming. 

To help couples simplify the planning process, we’ve found a number of tent wedding ideas you’ll really love. This guide begins with the basics of tented weddings and gives you details about how to choose the right tent, how wedding day weather comes into the picture, design tent wedding ideas, and even how to properly light your wedding tent in the most functional and chic way. No matter what vision you have for your tented wedding reception, it’s possible to make it happen—as long as you plan diligently and carefully source everything you’re going to need. And don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone—your wedding planner will be there to help too. 

Industry experts shared their best piece of advice for creating an unforgettable tented wedding celebration. When deciding which tent wedding ideas you want to bring to life with the help of your wedding vendors, keep these words of wisdom in mind.

Starting with the Basics

Always Start With a Budget

"As with any wedding, start with the budget. Remember to include items for a tented/ backyard wedding like restrooms (for guests and staff), power, lighting, a kitchen build-out, etc. These are often not in a typical wedding budget and will help you get the full picture for a tented wedding." —Bluebird Productions

Understand Restrictions

"Talk to your planner or designer in the very beginning of your venue selection to identify if a tent the proper size for your event fits within the venue constraints. Also, don’t be shy to request a tent quote before you sign with your outdoor venue so you can ensure the costs inherent with tenting are within the confines of your budget goals." —Luke Wilson Events

Enlist Essential Vendors

"A custom tented space typically calls for more vendors than an established venue. In our experience these types of weddings require much more planning and forethought than a typical venue requires, but in the end, they are so worth the effort!" —Floressence Flowers

Research Noise Ordinances & Permits

"Be sure to know and work with your neighborhood's noise ordinances to guarantee a stress-free dance party. With a tent fire permits are also a must, but often your rental company will secure this for you." —Kate Whelan Events

Tented Wedding Ideas: Inside of a tented wedding reception, bright white tent with foliage ceiling decor
Lance Nicoll

Choosing the Right Tent

Research All Options

"When selecting your tent, as simple as it may seem, understand the structure. Decide which is right for you and your design. Integrating your surroundings into the design by having open sides and a clear-top allows for a connection to the landscape. One of the most popular aspects of the clear tent is that it can serve as the perfect backdrop and canvas for evoking a romantic and natural ambiance." —Elements by K.H & co.

Consider Sizing & Scale

"Scaling to tent size is so important, especially if adding oversized installations to create a more intimate feel and vertical interest. If budget is of concern, I would recommend opting for one beautiful oversized piece rather than several smaller designs that may get lost in the scale of the tent." —BLOOM Floral Design

Pick a Tent Style That Matches Your Personality

"Consider the wide variety of tented options and their distinctive characteristics when finalizing the design details of your day. From clear top to open sided to sailcloth, select one that fits the overall aesthetic of your wedding." —Ryan Designs

Tented Wedding Ideas: Inside of a tented wedding reception, clear-top tent with bright white bar accented with greenery bouquets
Aaron and Jillian Photography

Planning for the Weather

Consider Seasonality

"If hosting an outdoor wedding during the cooler months, always plan for the coldest possible temperature once the sun goes down. Provide blankets and consider renting heaters to ensure that guests stay warm. Take the time to research the best available option that can be both affordable and stylish!" —Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

Keep Temperature Top-Of-MinD

"Always consider the heat in a tent and work with your planner to determine the best ways to heat or cool your space for the comfort of your guests (and to keep flowers looking gorgeous)! Remember that a clear-top tent is a mini greenhouse and can often burn and wilt flowers." —Bluebird Productions

Provide Adequate Shade

"When creating a space from the ground up, we often find guests are looking for shade. Placing umbrellas in the right places or offering guests parasols are effective ways to keep them comfortable and cool." —Christina Baxter Weddings

Put a Plan B in Place

"Opting for a tent as your plan B in case of inclement weather? Consider the lead time that you need to make this decision. We suggest putting a tent on a rain reserve at least a month in advance. You’ll most likely have a clear idea of which direction the weather is going about 48 hours out, and this is when we suggest making a 'final call." —Cannon Green

Tented Wedding Ideas: Inside of a tented wedding reception, opaque-top tent with baby's breathe foral installation
Samm Blake of the Wedding Artist Collective

Nailing the Design

Amplify Formal Details

"When working with a black-tie event, the formality shines through more in the flooring of your tent and how you decorate the interior of your space. You can install a pole tent on the grass in a field or near a body of water and keep it casual with no floor, or you can add a wooden floor to dress it up. If opting for a black-tie wedding, I would lean towards a frame tent because of its tall dramatic ceiling where the installation options are endless." —Jove Meyer Events


"By measuring your space, you can figure out exactly where it makes the most sense to setup your cocktail hour, reception, ceremony, etc. From there, get to know your environment and the landscape that your tent will be constructed on to ensure it’s on a solid foundation." —Melissa Davis Designs

Prioritize Flooring

"Flooring is a priority even if it doesn’t rain on the wedding day. For example, say it rained a couple of days prior, the floor could be soaked, leaving puddles and muddy spots for guests to have to walk through. Flooring is particularly important for your guests that will be arriving in heels." —EverAfter Events

Tented Wedding Ideas: Inside of a tented wedding reception at dusk, featuring a clear-top tent with hanging geometric glowing lanterns 
Melia Lucida

Lighting Up the Night

Lead With Light

"Lighting (both inside and outside the tent) is an essential element you should consider when having an outdoor wedding for overall aesthetic and safety. Consider a cylinder candle protected by a glass covering to avoid the flame burning out mid-celebration due to wind." —Favored by Yodit Events & Design

Focus on Lighting

"Lighting is key for the guest experience, safety and design purposes. Areas such as parking and restrooms should be well lit for safety. A professional planner, rental company and/or lighting designer will recommend the best lighting based on your vision, location and the safety of your guests." —Asheville Event Co.

Go Alfresco All Night Long

"Tents are a great outdoor alternative that allows you and your guests to stay protected by the elements while celebrating outdoors all day long. Lighting is essential if transitioning from day-to-night with your tented design, so work with your vendor team to make sure all areas are well-lit as the sun goes down." —Joy Proctor Design

Integrate That Natural Glow

"Consider a tent with translucent cloth fabric that allows in warm, natural light. If opting for a wedding during the day, consider even an open-sided structure that allows you to take in both the sunlight and the beauty of your natural surroundings (as well as a nice breeze if you are hosting in the warmer months)!" —Rebecca Rose Events

Tented Wedding Ideas: Couple in front of backyard tented wedding reception, featuring an open-air tent 
Liz Banfield

Bonus: Photographer Pro Tip

Venture off for Your Portraits

"Even large properties fill up quickly with equipment, chairs, tents, etc. Consider a second location for the portrait session." —Liz Banfield