Holding a wedding ceremony and reception outdoors is an idea that appeals to many couples as they begin planning their wedding and are considering venue options. Outdoor weddings have been popular for many years, and the trend continues to grow. Photos and articles about tented weddings seem to be everywhere, from bridal magazines, to Pinterest, to TV shows and movies, and they can be beautiful! As beautiful and special as they can be, they aren’t for everyone, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Why choose a tented wedding?
There are many reasons couples opt for outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions. In some cases, they can’t seem to find an indoor venue that suits them, or the venue they like isn’t available on their date, or maybe it’s important to them to be married at the bride’s home, or a family farm, or maybe they just like they idea of being married outdoors on a beautiful day. Whatever the reasons, planning an outdoor wedding almost always involves the rental of a tent, or perhaps multiple tents, regardless of the season. The tent provides the setting for the event, as well as protection from the elements, which may be sun, heat, rain, wind, or cold.
But how much does a tented wedding cost?
As an event rental company specializing in tented weddings and events, we handle numerous inquiries for tented events. One of the first things people ask is what it is going to cost to hold their wedding reception under a tent? They know they will need to rent a tent, tables, and chairs, and sometimes they also realize that they will need tent lighting, a dance floor, china, glassware, flatware, and linens, but in many cases they will need much more than that, including any number of things they hadn’t considered.
Because there are so many variables, it really isn’t possible to give an accurate answer regarding what it will cost without asking a lot of questions and developing a line item quote based on what the couple thinks they want. After gathering some basic information about their plans, we typically offer an approximate cost per person for the type of wedding they have in mind. Some are very basic and are held at a venue that doesn’t require much in the way of rentals; others are very elaborate and are taking place at a property where everything must be brought in; and then there are those that fall in between those two extremes.
In recent years, we have done some picnic style receptions where we have provided a tent with basic lighting, along with tables, chairs, and linens where the cost for the rental services came in around $30 per person. We’ve also outfitted some very elaborate weddings where the cost exceeded $500 per person. It is not unusual for rental costs for a fairly typical tented wedding to end up in the $100 – $150 per person range, which would equate to $10,000 – $15,000 for a 100 person reception.
How do I plan a tented wedding?
If a couple wants to pursue the idea of an outdoor wedding, we’ll arrange to meet them at the proposed venue for a site evaluation, which will be followed up with a detailed quote and CAD drawing. We charge a non-refundable fee for this service, which will be applied to the rental charges if our services are booked.
Variables to consider
What are some of the variables that drive the costs, and how can you keep those costs under control? One of the primary factors in determining your costs is your guest count; the more people who attend your wedding, the more it is going to cost for rentals, catering, etc. That seems pretty obvious, but it’s something to think about; if you are on a budget, maybe you may want to consider inviting fewer people.
Aside from your guest count, the venue you select is going to have a lot to do with how much everything is going to cost. If the facility you choose has some amount of indoor space that can be used for a cocktail reception for example, that may save the cost of renting another tent. Are there adequate restroom facilities on site, or will you need to rent those facilities? If you’ve decided to get married at family home, or farm for example, are there any usable facilities at the site? Depending on the guest count, many homes will not have adequate restroom facilities.
Many people are not prepared for how much electrical service a large reception will require. Most homes do not have enough available power for a wedding reception. Some of the things that require electricity will be tent lighting, a DJ or band, catering equipment, a restroom trailer, heaters, fans, and more. Most of the tented receptions we do at private homes, and pretty much all that we do at remote locations like a farm, require the rental of generators to power everything. We typically provide a primary generator, and a backup generator, along with a technician to operate them. The backup generator is almost never needed, but if you only have one generator, and it fails during your event, the party is pretty much over with no light, food, or music.
Some of the other factors that will affect your costs are the number of different wedding day activities you are going to hold at the venue. Are you planning to hold the ceremony at the venue, or will that be held at a church? Chances are, holding the ceremony at the venue is going to be more costly as you will probably need to rent chairs, at a minimum, and probably arrange for sound services. If you are planning on an open air ceremony, you need to have a backup plan in case of rain; is there an indoor space you can use for the ceremony, or will that involve an additional tent? Are you planning to hold a cocktail reception prior to dinner? If so, will that be held in a separate area, or will it be held under the dinner reception tent. If it is going to be in a separate area, that may require another tent. If it is being held in the reception tent, you’ll probably need to expand the size of that tent to accommodate the cocktail reception comfortably, under the tent, in case it is a rainy day.
The caterer and the menu you choose will also affect your rental costs. In most cases, the caterer is going to need an area to do their prep work. In some cases, there may be a garage or a barn that can be used, however, in many cases, a separate tent will be needed for catering prep. Some caterers will bring most of the food already prepared and ready to serve; others prefer to do the cooking on site, in which case you will most likely need to rent ovens, stoves, refrigerators, etc.. Sometimes we need to provide separate prep tents for the cocktail reception and the dinner reception when they are a distance apart. Of course, the prep tents will need to be lighted, and enclosed with solid sidewalls, and often times connected to the reception tent with a walkway canopy.
Wedding tent add-ons
You will have numerous options for basic things such as tables, chairs, china, glassware, flatware, linens, dance floors, lighting, and much more. Depending upon the time of the year, you may need sidewalls for the tent, and heaters. During warm weather months, we often provide fans, and in some cases, air conditioning services.
Some of the more elaborate weddings opt for flooring and carpeting under the tent; the flooring typically follows the contour of the ground when it is reasonably level. In some cases, the only way to make some sites usable is to install a level floor.
A rain plan
In Western PA, it seems that it can rain on any day of the year; we really don’t have a reliable “dry season”. That being the case, we feel it is important to have a “rain plan” ready to go in case rain is in the forecast. A rain plan typically involves things such additional tents and/or walkway canopies, as well as sidewalls, heaters, etc.. It is best to plan for these things and reserve them so they will be available for you, if needed.
There are numerous blogs on our website that address many topics related to tented weddings and events. Those can be found by clicking on the link below.
There are also dozens of photo albums from tented weddings we have equipped in our Photo Gallery; these albums are a good source of inspiration, and a good way to see the many possibilities for accessorizing your wedding ceremony or reception tent. The photos can be found by clicking on the link below.
If an outdoor wedding is in your future, we’ll be happy to speak with you about your ideas and help you plan the wedding of your dreams!