Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tent Wed 2

If you’re having a tented wedding, be prepared for additional costs and additional vendors. A tented wedding costs more money since you have to bring everything on site, and there’s no way to really get around that. Here’s a list of items you need to consider when working with a tented event that you wouldn’t need to deal with if you had your wedding at an existing venue. You don’t need all of these items but it gives you a pretty complete list to work off:

  • Reception Tent
  • Tent Flooring
  • Cocktail Tent- rain plan option
  • Catering Tent
  • Lighting
  • Generator
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • China
  • Glassware
  • Flatware
  • Linens
  • Napkins
  • Barware
  • Catering Equipment
  • Bathrooms

If you want to learn more about tents, check out one of our past blog posts here: What you need to know about tented weddings.

Reception Tent: So this is pretty obvious. The size of your tent depends on the number of guests you’re having. If you are planning on an outdoor ceremony and/or cocktail hour, make sure you consider getting the next size up for your main tent as a rain plan. Better yet, consider a cocktail tent if your budget and space allows. In addition to your tent, you need to consider tent sides- clear, mesh, white, windows, a dance floor if you’re not having a complete tent floor, and maybe even a stage for your reception entertainment. Depending on the size and style of your tent, this will vary from $500-$10,000.

reception tent

Tent Flooring: If you have the budget, I highly suggest tent flooring. This ensures your guests will stay dry if it rains. They won’t have to take their shoes off to prevent their heels from sinking into the grass, and overall a floor brings a new level of sophistication to your outdoor wedding. You might also need flooring if the ground isn’t level. There are flooring options that can be assembled directly on the ground or they can be built up to ten feet above the ground to compensate for hills and valleys (Strata flooring). If you have flooring you don’t need to rent a dance floor and you don’t need a stage for your band either. Your catering tent will not need flooring as long as it is on flat ground. Tent flooring starts at $1.50 a square foot for a direct ground installation and $4.00-$5.00 a square foot for a Strata floor.

tent flooring

Cocktail Tent: Rain plan option: If you are having an outdoor cocktail hour it would be a great idea to consider a cocktail tent. If it’s really hot out it will help your guests and any stationary hors d’oeuvres. If it’s cold out you can heat the space. If you are planning on an outdoor ceremony, using your cocktail tent as a rain back up plan is also a great idea. Most cocktail tents will come in under $1000 depending on the size and if flooring is required.

Catering Tent: If there isn’t a kitchen or garage that’s available for your caterer, you will need a catering tent. Usually a 20×30 is plenty big, and if you have a fairly small guest list you can get away with an even smaller tent. Simple flood lights are all a caterer usually requests in terms of lighting, and they’ll also need tables -without linens- to work on. Most catering tents will come in under $1000.

Lighting: You can spend a lot or a little on your tent lighting. Working with your tent company, they can provide you plenty of light for practical use -perimeter string lights, pole lighting, and sometimes paper lanterns and general uplighting is available. If you wanted to go over the top with lighting, consider a professional lighting company who can come up with some pretty incredible designs - washes on your tent ceiling, GoBo patterns on your dance floor and ceiling, uplighting on the sides of the tent walls, pin spotting on the dining tables, and the list goes on and on. Be prepared for a hefty bill for lighting depending on how complicated the design is -anywhere from $500 for perimeter string lighting and pole lanterns to $50,000 for a custom computer controlled light show that shifts throughout the evening at the touch of a button.

tent lighting

Generator: If it’s necessary, a generator is a great expense because it guarantees you will not blow any fuses during your event. There’s nothing worse then your caterer blowing a fuse when using the coffee makers at the end of the night. I would ask your caterer, band, and lighting specialists what they require for power before investing in a generator. Depending on the size of the generator, plan on spending $500-$3500.

tent equipment

Event Design Rentals: There are a number of items that will need to be rented for a tented wedding, and they make up about 7%-10% of your total budget. Here are the items that make up these rentals:

Tables: This is the not so fun part about a tented wedding since most of these items are provided by a reception venue. You need tables for dinner, bars, favors, gifts, place cards, cake, catering tables, cocktail tables, stationary hors d’oeuvres tables, etc.


Chairs: There are many options that cover all price points here. From the least expensive Samsonite white folding metal chair, white or natural folding padded garden chair, Chivari ballroom chairs (in almost any color), and then there are specialty chairs such as benches, ghost chairs, crystal flex chairs, etc. The range of pricing is from around $2.00 a chair to upwards of $50.00 a chair.

garden chair

ballroom chair

China: Lots of options here as well. You will need china for your main dinner which will include: dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bread and butter plate. If you have stationary hors d’oeuvres they might require a small bread and butter plate as well, so check with your caterer. Simple white bistro china will cost under $1.00 a piece to rent upwards of specialty gold rimmed china with a heavy filigree pattern at $3.50 a piece. Most rental companies include coffee cups and saucers with their china patterns so don’t forget to order those as well. If you want to save money you can consider using the fancy plate for your dinner plate and then use a simpler less expensive pattern for your accessory china.


tiffany china

Glassware: Same as china, there are plenty of price and design options here. Simplest would be the standard clear glassware that would be appropriate for your table and barware. Then you can upgrade to a thinner glass and get into shapes and colors to add to your table decor. You will need a water glass and wine glass for your dinner tables, plus a champagne glass if you want to toast during your meal. Pricing will range from $0.45- $4.00 a glass.

plum glassware

standard glassware

Flatware: Although there are not as many patterns for flatware, there are plenty to choose from ranging from stainless steel to sterling silver and even gold plate. You will need a salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife for sure. An additional salad fork for dessert along with teaspoons for coffee service and a soup spoon if you have a soup course will complete the list. Most patterns stay around the same price range, usually between $0.50-$2.00 a piece.


spring flatware

Linens: There are unlimited design options here, ranging from cotton to dupioni silk and then some. You will need linens to cover all of your rental tables other than your catering tables which will help save a bit of money. I highly suggest linens to the floor in order to create a more cohesive and complete look for your wedding. There’s nothing worse than seeing the legs of a rental table. A 120″ round table linen will range from $18.00-upwards of $500 depending on how ornate your design becomes. Most pre-made linens will range from $18.00-$75.00 a cloth. Here’s a quick run down of what size linen fits what size table:

60″ round table = 120″ round linen- standard dining table seating 8 comfortably and no more than 10 guests- which will be tight
72″ round table = 132″ round linen- oversized dining table seating 10 comfortable and no more than 12 guests- which will be tight
36″ round table = 96″ round linen- perfect for your cake table and low-top cocktail tables
48″ round table = 108″ round linen- for a small stationary hors d’oeuvres table, or a small place card table
6’ banquet table = 90″ x 132″ rectangular linen- for buffet service, place cards, gifts, favors, dining tables, bars, desserts and coffee
8’ banquet table = 90″ x 156″ rectangular linen- for buffet service, place cards, gifts, favors, dining tables, bars, desserts and coffee
30″ round x 42″ tall hi-top table = 120″ round linen- this will not fit perfectly, you really need a 114″ round but most rental companies do not make that linen size. Perfect cocktail tables.



Napkins: Don’t forget to order your napkins, either in simple cotton, linen hemstitch, or a custom colored napkin. Order extra for bread baskets and in case your guests drop theirs on the ground. Your caterer will give you the number of extra napkins they need as well. Pricing ranges from $0.75-$5.00 a napkin, usually capping off at $2.00 a piece for linen hemstitch.


Barware: You will need a lot of glassware for your bars and don’t spend your money on expensive fancy glassware here. Go with the standard, “Libby” rental glassware that will take care of business without breaking your budget. Ask your caterer for quantities. You can always splurge on a signature drink glass if you want to. :-) Standard glassware usually costs around $0.40-$.050 a glass.


Catering Equipment: If your caterer does not own all of their cooking equipment you will have to rent these items, ranging from propane gas grills, heating cabinets, refrigerators, convection ovens, etc. This equipment will range in price from $20-$300 so be prepared for a heft addition to your catering bill if they ask you to rent their equipment.


Bathrooms: If there isn’t a bathroom on the property, or if you don’t want to burden the septic system, consider renting bathrooms. The most inexpensive way to rent bathrooms would be to rent port-a-potties which will cost under $500 a piece. If you want to upgrade, look into restroom trailers which range in price from under $1,000-$5,000 depending on how fancy the inside is and how many stalls each trailer has. If you can, I would suggest also hiring an attendant to help keep the bathrooms running smooth and staying clean throughout your event. They cost around $250 for the evening, and you should also get them a vendor meal to be nice. :grin:


Part 1: Venue/Caterer
Part 2: Photography
Part 3: Floral and Event Design

Tags: , | Link for this post | Share this post: Share this post on Facebook Add to Kirtsy
Newer blog post
more in Blog
Older blog post
No newer blog posts
more by Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings (oldest)
Older blog post by Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings

5 Responses to “The Wedding Budget: Tents”

Miss Gloss
Miss Gloss (message) 689 posts, Busy bee

Great post! Wish I had seen it BEFORE I decided to have a tented wedding :)

Bee Icon
Miss Bruschetta (message) 3,203 posts, Honey bee

I love the idea of a signature drink glass — that plum glassware is amazingly gorgeous!

Guest Icon
Weddings in Jamaica

The tent wedding is the only way to go in my opinion. That’s a beautiful tent wedding picture actually. The peace of mind that comes with renting a tent is worth the extra money.

Guest Icon

Great post! We are having a tented wedding at a vineyard, and there are lots of little things we have to add on to our budget that I never anticipated (like labor to put on string lights and lanterns!)

The photo with the star lanterns is lovely.

bree72 (message) 284 posts, Helper bee

I assumed our tent wedding might be more than a wedding at a venue, but I didn’t realize just how much! I think if I had a do-over I might have opted out of a tent wedding but the place was just too special to us to have it anywhere else! And on another note: the “spring flatware” was my silverware for my nautical wedding!