If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you really should plan to rent a tent. You can’t control the weather, and you don’t want to get caught in the rain.
The best time to start thinking about renting a tent is when you start looking at venues. If a location doesn’t have indoor options, you will want to know that up front so that you can factor the tent rental cost into your budget. Roger Briggs at Brigg’s Tent Rental in Eau Claire, says it’s also a good idea to reserve your tent “eight to twelve months ahead” or availability may be tight.
As with all the vendors for your wedding, do your research, advises Briggs. “Look for reputable vendors, read reviews, and ask other vendors who they recommend. We maintain inventory that is specifically used for weddings, and so are able to offer the highest quality tents for your wedding.”
Next, estimate what size tent you’ll need. Talk to tent rental businesses to get a better idea of how much square footage you’ll need for 1) the ceremony, 2) the reception—and ask about how big of a tent is needed for each of the various types of reception: cocktail party, seated dinner, or buffet. Square tents are better because they have taller ceilings and will have more air circulation. They will also help everyone feel equally included.
Once you know the size tent you’ll need, decide what type of tent you prefer, keeping in mind space, looks, and cost. The two most common types of tents are pole tents and frame tents. Pole tents look better with their swooping roof. They are also generally less expensive and require less set up time. Disadvantages to pole tents are that the will have center poles inside and they have to be staked into the ground, which requires five to eight feet on all sides for stakes and anchors. Frame tents have the advantage that they can be put up on any surface—a driveway, parking lot, deck, etc. You also can configure a series of them, allowing more possibilities of rooms and spaces to use. They are more expensive, and they do take longer to set up. Also, the framework can be seen inside the tent; usually you have to rent a liner to cover this up.
Last, ask about other extras, such as lighting, flooring, and heating or cooling.
Then you are ready to get a quote. Make sure the quote includes delivery fees, setup fees, any permits needed, and take-down. Be sure you understand and can live with the cancellation policy. Make sure the vendor realizes this tent will be for a wedding and you are expecting a nice-looking tent. Find out how long they estimate setup will take, so you can factor that into the overall schedule—will they need to come the day before to set up? If so, how would that affect cost? Compare quotes and features of each vendor and choose the one you think will work best for you.
Brigg’s has helpful printouts on the website (briggstent.com) for estimating tent size, linen sizing, and other aspects of the tent rental process. Their entire annual catalog is also available as a PDF link on the website, with all the various tent sizes and types listed along with prices, as well as all the information you need about extras. They offer free estimates, and they deliver and install within a 200-mile radius of Eau Claire. Briggs’s overall tip, “Enjoy the day! Don’t worry about the small stuff.”