/ Custom Wedding Logistics

How to Choose the Perfect Outdoor Wedding Tent

The True “Unveiling” Element to any Celebration

Planning an outdoor, nontraditional wedding usually means lots of creative freedom and a healthy share of rentals to bring your vision to life. Knowing where to start can feel a bit daunting, but starting with the right-priority tasks, doing some quality research and selecting the right partners are the keys to success.

Reserving the right tent is one of those high priority tasks you want to get right and you want to do early. At Weven, we specialize in non-traditional venues - so together with our friends at The Event Co., we’re sharing all the ins and outs to ensure the perfect “unveil” for your outdoor, tented reception.

It’s all about crafting your vision, selecting the right tent style and size, and choosing the right vendor to pull it all together. This last one... we can’t stress enough.

Know your Vision
Use your wedding season as a springboard for determining the look of your tent and get inspiration for wedding tent ideas. Determining your tent style becomes less overwhelming when you consider the time of year, the atmosphere of your wedding and above all - what you like.


When it comes to styles, it helps to break them down into these three types:

1 - Clear-Top and Frame Tents
2 - Sailcloth Tents
3 - White Pole Tents

Clear-Top Tent

Clear Frame Wedding Tent Photo

Clear-Top Tents are a variation of frame tents, and the perfect tent style for early spring and fall weddings. If you're interested in a nontraditional wedding, chances are you've chosen an exquisite and unique venue. Why hide those beautiful views? In turn, showcase your venue's unique features with a Clear-Top Tent. Your guests will enjoy their natural surroundings and once the sun sets, have the time of their lives dancing under the stars.

Helpful Hint: Frame tents are great if you are utilizing a hard surface or area that doesn’t allow placing tent stakes into the ground. Your vendor can give you the skinny, but if needed, frame tents can be secured with discrete weights to keep the tent in place, thus saving the ground from any unnecessary pounding! Another bonus - frame tents fit into tighter spaces since they utilize shorter outer ropes. Good to know for those planning a wedding around a venue with limited space such as a terrace venue or next to a building.

Tidewater Sailcloth Tents

Tidewater Sailcloth Tent Photo

Tidewater Sailcloth tents are great for the warm natural light they let in during outdoor weddings. In the evening, they give off an equally stunning glow like shown in this lovely photo by Michael Tallman Photography. Your photographer will thank you as there’s nothing prettier than summer's golden sunlight softly seeping through the gentle fabric.

White Pole Wedding Tent

If you are going for a classic look, The White Pole Wedding Tent is the tried and true traditional wedding tent style. Pole tents lend a classic, yet elegant finish to any event and are known as an industry staple due to their versatility and clean design aesthetic.

One tip: Pole Tents, like the name suggests, do have poles along the centerline of the tent. This means you’ll want to plan accordingly when assembling your tent layout for placement of dance floors or the head table.
Once you've nailed your tent style, next up is determining the size of your wedding tent.


The first consideration is the number of guests you are expecting. From there, estimate the number of people you will set per table which will give you an idea of the number of tables you will need. The number of tables determines the amount of square footage your wedding tent will need to cover. Other considerations that will impact square footage are extras such as bands, stages, dance floors, buffet tables, and indoor bars.

Still have lots of questions? Don’t stress! During initial conversations with your vendor, you do not need to have your seating plan fully fleshed out. Consider the above and be prepared to have a general discussion about what you do know (DJ versus band, dancing versus no dancing, etc.).This will enable your vendor to put together an accurate quote. As a rule of thumb, you want about 20 square feet per person. From there, your vendor or planner can help you adjust.

Second, you’ll want to know the size of your venue’s designated reception space. While scouting venue locations ask about tent placement. Some nontraditional wedding venues have more than one suitable place for a tent so be sure to explore your options. Once you've chosen the perfect place for your wedding tent, ask your venue host the following questions:

  • What are the dimensions of the area where the tent will be placed?
  • Is it possible for the tent to be staked into the ground?

Passing this information along to your vendor will ensure your vision matches what your venue is able to accommodate.

Finding your Vendor

One of the most rewarding aspects of planning an outdoor wedding is having the flexibility to choose any vendors you like. At Weven, you can choose your own vendors and we’ll provide you recommendations so you can mix, match, and customize your way to a one-of-a-kind wedding. Here’s what we look for when finding and recommending great vendors.

Recommendations - Finding a trusted vendor who comes highly recommended goes a long way to ensure you are off to the right start.

Understanding of their policies - Cancellation, weather contingency policies, and how they handle emergencies are all reasonable items to ask your vendor about. For example, do they allow for contingency holds for a back-up ceremony rain tent? Do they have any non-refundable deposit requirements, and are they willing to back up their work with a 24/7 phone number in case of emergencies. No one likes surprises and solid vendors will be up-front about possible costs or fees to cover the services they provide.

In the end, remember - it’s all about knowing your vision, selecting the right style and size, and finding the right vendor. From there, we know you have a lot on your plate, so have confidence in your decision and allow your dedicated team of professionals to do what they do best!

Haven’t found your nontraditional venue yet? Start your search here.

Kelly Overstreet

Kelly Overstreet

Outdoors enthusiast and former Army Logistician, Kelly perfected the science of planning in the most austere environments. She now develops venue management solutions to help support venue partners.

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