Take Shelter

Everything you need to know about reception tents
Tent by Party Reflections

With summer wedding season in full swing, it seems like the perfect time to talk about tented receptions. An undoubtedly obscure topic, info on the wide variety of cloth creations is exhaustive. From billowing open-sides to full coverage vinyl, the options are seemingly endless. Any way you go, tents allow you to construct a weather-proof site for you and guests to eat and dance the night away, in spite of the elements. But before you delve into carving out a contract with your vendor, it's best to be well-versed on the various basics and helpful little details of the reception tent. Many  vendors are full-service, meaning they will provide the linens, chairs, necessary air-conditioning units, lighting and flooring. You'll also want to have the vendor come out to your venue about six months in advance to survey the landscape and determine the necessary requirements for your tent. So let's get down to business. 

Architecture Lessons

When it comes to tent architecture, there are three primary options: Frame, tension and pole. 

1. The Frame Tent. Frame tents are framed, hence the name, by cylindrical metal structures. This type of tent works well for narrow spaces. With frame tents, you have the option of concealing this metal framework in the ceiling with a fabric liner. Keep in mind that, for large receptions, this tent is not a sturdy option. This type tent does not require clearance for construction, meaning it can be assembled flush against a building or house. Picturesque option for cocktail hour, no? Frame tents are pricey, heavy and require a great deal of time for set-up. 

{Party Reflections frame tent}

2. The Tension Tent. Tension tents (also known as high-peak tents) use center and outer-edge poles to support their weight, secured by the tension of anchor ropes held by stakes in the ground. Thus the tension tent requires an additional 8 ft. of clearance on all sides. The tension tent is the most popular option on the market when it comes to weddings. With higher peaks than the other two options, the tension tent makes for an elegant, dramatic finished look. With the tallest center poles of the three options, this tent is the most weather-resistant.

{Party Time Rentals tension tent}

3. The Pole Tent. Like the tension tent, pole tents are constructed with center and outer-edge poles as well as tension ropes. It also requires 8 ft. of clearance on all sides for the stakes. The main difference between the pole tent and the tension tent is the height variance of the poles. The pole tent lacks the dramatic effect of the exceedingly high poles. The pole tent is also the least expensive option. 

{Party Reflections pole tent}

Material Girl

There are more just two materials on the market when it comes to reception tents: Polyester and vinyl. 

1. The Polyester Top. This option is the least expensive of the two. Though the polyester top is most frequently used for pop-up tents, it's used on occasion for pole and frame tents. The thicker the polyester, the more durable and weather-resistant it is. More than likely, however, you'll be using vinyl. 

2. The Vinyl Top. Vinyl (simply polyester coated in vinyl) is often the only type of tent available for wedding reception tents. It is highly durable, easy to clean and flame-resistant. If you hear a vendor discussing "denier," he is referring to fabric thickness. This entails by the ratio of fabric weight to fabric strength. Thus, if you're looking at a light-weight fabric, even if it's denier number is lower than another, it's still possible for the lighter option to be stronger than the heavier one, simply depending upon the fabric weight. 

The Great Wall

{Party Reflections}

Tent siding is another crucial consideration. Open-sided, opaque, clear, and window are the available options. Check with your vendor to see what options he has available, as these can vary by company. If you have your mind set on a particular type, be sure your vendor offers it. 

1. Open-Sided. Open-air tents are the least weather-resistant option. They offer a romantic, unobstructed view of your surroundings and create a billowing look to your tent top. 

2. Opaque. Opaque walls provide maximum protection from the elements as well as privacy. The fully-enclosed opaque tent gives the feel of an indoor reception. 

3. Clear. Clear vinyl siding provides protection from wind and rain as well as an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape. This is a great option for a smaller-scale tent because it prevents guests from feeling too enclosed within the tent. 

4. Window. Window tents can be lovely as well, providing just a peek of the surrounding landscape while maintaining full coverage. 

Beneath Your Feet

{Party Reflections}

Flooring will also need to be addressed for your tent. Depending upon the landscape, you may have no choice but to cover the ground. The available options are ground, partial and full floor. 

1. The Ground. This cost-free option comes with a few stipulations. First, it requires that the plot of land be fairly level. Tables and chairs need to be sturdy on the ground and guests should be able to navigate the terrain with ease. If the plot is very shady or prone to mosquitoes and bugs, this is not a smart option. When your vendor comes to inspect the space, he will be able to help assess the possibility as well. Keep in mind, if your dinner and dancing will be held within the tent, you'll need to keep safety in mind for dancing. This is a more logical option for a tent where only dinner will be held. Be sure to use bug-repellent tealight candles in your centerpieces to help combat insects.  

2. Partial Flooring. Partial flooring works well for providing a grassy plot with a stable and safe place for dancing. Again, however, if there is a even chance of having wet grass under the tent, this could cause some serious issues when guests hit the dance floor. Just remember, safety is key. 

3. Full Flooring. This option, though most costly, is the safest option available. By fully covering the ground, you'll lessen the presence of pesky bugs. Plus you'll ensure stability of all furniture and ease of walking for guests wearing heels.

Other Things To Consider

{Party Reflections}

1. Size and cost.  A 200-person capacity tent with space for dinner and a partial dance floor would require a 40 by 120 ft. option and averages slightly over $3,000.00. Be upfront with your vendor about any budget restrictions you have and he will work with you to create something within your means. 

2. Contract logistics. It's so important that you are thorough in contract-making with your vendor. Be absolutely certain the document includes a cancellation policy, list of all services provided with the tent, set-up/breakdown schedule, cancellation policy, deposit and full fee amounts with pay dates, and a sidebar on backup tents, if necessary. Should your tent only be for use in case of inclimate weather, you should expect to pay half-price if it wasn't assembled. If it was assembled, you should expect to pay the full amount, regardless of if it was actually utilized.