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Kate Parker, New Hampshire Vendor: Wedding Planner Website: Kate Parker Weddings About Me: Kate Parker is the owner of Kate Parker Weddings, a wedding planning and floral and event design studio located on the Seacoast of NH. KPW specializes in simple and sophisticated weddings throughout New England and New York and also provides lighting services, paper products, custom out of town welcome baskets and music entertainment. Kate loves to work with as many details as possible- ribbon banding, monograms, favor tags etc to make each wedding unique and fabulous! She lives in Somersworth, NH with her husband Ryan, son Zachary, and chihuahua Lola. Although she doesn't have much free time, Kate loves to travel, read a good book, and entertain for close friends.
About Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings

Every once in a while I get a request from a bride about an outdoor wedding, and she says she doesn’t like or want a tent. My first response is usually “are you from the West Coast?” as many weddings happen successfully without tents in California, where the weather is much more predictable. This got me thinking about tents in general, so I thought I would share some of our favorite tent photos as well as some insight into tents.

In no particular order…

1. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, you always need a tent, no matter what time of year you’re getting married.

2. You should plan on getting the next size up in your tent if you are planning for an outside ceremony or cocktail hour. If it starts to rain, you can always have the ceremony in one section of the tent and wall off the reception area with some fabric. This is a very cost effective way to ensure a rain plan.

3. If you can afford it, floor your tent. There’s nothing worse than a guest ruining their shoes in the grass, or dealing with uneven surfaces to place your tables. Not only will your guests appreciate sitting or standing on an even surface, but your florist will love you even more because they’ll be placing centerpieces on level tables. There’s nothing quite like a tall centerpiece leaning to one side filled with water and flowers….yikes.

4. A tent is a completely blank canvas, so you can add design elements as you please, without worrying about the space dictating your color scheme. There are lots of design elements that will add to a tent, such as:

  • uplighting and washing the ceiling with LEDs
  • addition of a fabric liner or chiffon panels to soften the ceiling and make the space more intimate
  • chiffon side tent panels to soften the perimeter of the tent
  • addition of lights to the poles in a number of different ways

Photos by KPW
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5. Tents can be used in the middle of the winter with a floor and proper heating. The tent becomes a semi-permanent building of sorts, with temperature controls and clear sides for viewing while still giving the drama of tall ceilings and unlimited design potential.

There are a number of different types of tents, from the materials they are made of to the way they are installed. Here’s a quick review of your options:

A. Pole Tents (Century): A tension type tent containing center poles, perimeter poles, and guy ropes. Anchoring/staking is critical to insure proper installation, because a 7 foot area on all four sides is needed to anchor/stake the tent. This is the classic wedding tent, with the peaked look from the outside and inside. These tents are made of vinyl and have metal side and center poles. The center poles are usually 20’ apart and most are 40’ wide. They come in 40’ x 60’ to 300’ and can also come 60’ wide. The sides are usually all white, all mesh, or windows. Almost any party rental company will carry pole tents. Photos by Claris Photography, Liesl Clark

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B. Frame Tents: A professionally installed tent consisting of a vinyl top stretched over a metal frame and containing no center poles, only perimeter support poles. This tent has a center ceiling spine with two sloped peaks meeting in the middle as opposed to the multiple peaks of a pole tent. These tents come in 20’ to 60’ by 20 to 300’ widths as well. Frame tents are also made of vinyl and have metal side poles. The sides are usually all white, all mesh, or windows. Almost any party rental company will carry frame tents. You can even get a clear top to a frame tent like this image here. Photo by David Murray Weddings, John Santerre

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C. Clear Span Structure Tent: A tent with an aluminum frame support structure that eliminates the need for center pole support. These tents are massive and look similar to an airplane hangar -in all white of course. They are covered in white vinyl and have a sloped peak effect inside. Losberger Tents are the most common of the structure tents, and these are often special ordered from your party rental company. Photos from PartyProRents.com

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D. Sperry Tent: A very different type of tent in terms of materials, a Sperry tent has the overall appearance of a pole tent. Instead of vinyl, a Sperry tent is made of sailcloth material. And yes it’s waterproof if it is a true Sperry tent. These tents are rated for up to 70 mph winds, and if the weather was supposed to produce such gusts, you would be rescheduling your wedding for sure. There are tents made of sailcloth on the market today that are not Sperry tents rated for severe weather. These are called fair weather tents and are rated for around 20-25 mph gusts which happen almost every day on the ocean, so be very wary of this type of sailcloth tent. Fair weather tents are not waterproof either. Sailcloth tents are used often on the West Coast which is why a fair weather tent exists. They don’t deal with the extreme weather patterns like on the East Coast.

The other wonderful element of a Sperry tent is that their center and side poles are made of old boat masts, so they’re a completely natural organic tent product. Sperry tents are rounded on the edges, creating a softer inner feeling to the tent. Because they are made of sailcloth, the tent is able to breath and take in sunlight throughout the day and reflect any inner lighting in the evening. They also have smaller completely round tents that can be used for cocktail hour or for your catering tents. Sperry tents have to be rented from a Sperry tent dealer. You can find their locations on their website, Sperry Tents. At KPW, we get to work with Sperry Tents Seacoast and we highly recommend their services. Check out their website at Sperry Tents Seacoast. Photography by Grazier Photography, Matt and Enna Grazier.

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More Sperry tents, photography by Stacey Kane Photography

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Even More Sperry tents (can you tell we’re a bit biased? ;)) Photography by Mikos Photography, Kristen Conklin

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I hope this helps give some insight to the options you have when planning an outdoor wedding. Don’t be afraid of tents, embrace them! We love designing tented weddings, they’re our favorite kind! :grin:

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19 Responses to “What You Need to Know About a Tented Reception”

1.
Miss Gloss
Bee
Miss Gloss (message)  1,249 posts, Bumble bee

OOH! Love the Sperry tents! We couldn’t find one to deliver to our area though without giving up my first born, so we went with a regular pole tent -
Great tips!!

 
2.
Vic004
Member
Vic004 (message)  804 posts, Busy bee

I love tents and I’m from the west coast! I loved looking at your these tent photos. I am having a tented dinner, what is a good cord to buy to hang paper lanterns from?

 
3.
doctorgirl
Hostess
doctorgirl (message)  27 posts, Newbee

Uh, we’re not planning on a tent… but it’s July in Tahoe. It’s not going to rain. Right? :)

 
4.
Guest Icon
Guest
Vanessa

@Vic004:
We’re using heavy duty fishing line to hang ours, that way you wont see the string and the lanterns will look like they’re floating.

After seeing this pictures I am even more excited about my wedding!! Yay tents!

 
5.
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Guest
Carter and Cook Event Co.

planning a wedding in hawaii and def. needing a tent. this was super helpful!

 
6.
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Guest
PRO Highlights » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog

[...] Kate Parker tells us everything we need to know about tent weddings [...]

 
7.
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Member
eastwestbride (message)  41 posts, Newbee

Hi Kate,

I’m having a tent for my wedding reception, and it looks like it’s one of your Type Cs above.

The tent company says it can hang paper lanterns for me, great, but they say they have never hung paper lanterns with lights in and that mine would have to be purely decorative. They would use uplighters around the walls of the tent for light instead.

Have you ever encountered this? Do you think it would look terrible having lanters with no lights inside and we should just dispense with them altogether? Scarily, the standard lighting options the tent company offer are just HORRID!

Thanks!

 
8.
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Member
runningbee (message)  226 posts, Helper bee

I’m questioning my decision to go with wooden chairs and not the more expensive ones in your photos…and my decision not to have a floor. Hmmm.

 
9.
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Guest
rebex

I love seeing how the poles are decorated! One of the biggest concessions I had to make was not getting a floor in our tent. The cost of the floor was an additional fee, well over the cost of the $5000 tent! We’ve been assured the grass won’t be muddy or soft - but still. I hate flipflops, but know that I’ll have to provide alternate footwear for our female guests.

 
10.
LoriLori
Member
LoriLori (message)  800 posts, Busy bee

Oh thaks for this post! I’m having a tented reception next spring in NJ and can’t get enough of articles about tents or tent pictures! Now I’ll have to investigate Sperry tents!

 
11.
LatteLove
Hostess
LatteLove (message)  5,567 posts, Bee Keeper

those tents are just beautiful. Makes me wish I was have a semi-outdoor wedding!

 
12.
Jenniphyr
Member
Jenniphyr (message)  3,426 posts, Sugar bee

Thanks for the pointers! We’ll probably need a tent (though I would really rather not have one — they’re EX-PEN-SIVE, and require a lot of decorating to boot — but the weather here is just too unpredictable), so it’s good to have tutorials like this. =)

 
13.
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Guest
The Wedding Budget: Tents » Weddingbee PRO » The Wedding Blog

[...] 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. [...]

 
14.
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Guest
PRO: The Wedding Budget: Tents » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog

[...] 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. [...]

 
15.
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PRO
Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings (message)  75 posts, Worker bee

@Vic004: Check out http://www.paperlanternstore.com. They have a wide selection of paper lanterns and chord kits.

 
16.
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PRO
Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings (message)  75 posts, Worker bee

@LoriLori: Sperry Tents NJ is up and running so you should check them out! Our local NH Sperry Tents Seacoast worked with them about a month ago on an incredible event so they’ll be sure to take great care of you!

 
17.
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PRO
Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings (message)  75 posts, Worker bee

@eastwestbride: If you’re having an evening wedding I don’t think it would be worth the money to have them hung if they won’t be illuminated. It’s really not a difficult process to install these lanterns, maybe you should find a local professional lighting company to come in and install them for you? If this is a necessary design element you’ve always wanted, I would sacrifice another part of your overall budget to have these done properly. Sorry it took so long for me to write back to you, I’m still getting used to all of these comments! Good luck. KP

 
18.
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Guest
Christy @ Paper Lanterns

Absolutely beautiful tent setup’s Kate! My fiance and I are getting married in February of next year and have been shopping around trying to find some decent prices on setup and decoration related items.

Do you happen to know what the rental costs on some of these tents are? Our wedding is going to be outdoors in Hawaii so temperature shouldn’t be too much of an issue however, I think we would something semi-enclosed as this will be on a resort property on the big island. So we would like to have a little privacy. :)

 
19.
Guest Icon
Guest
neys

I loved looking at your these tent photos. I am having a tented dinner. It’s really not a difficult process to install these lanterns, maybe you should find a local professional lighting company to come in and install them for you? If this is a necessary design element you’ve always wanted.

 

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Kate Parker @ Kate Parker Weddings Kate Parker, New Hampshire Vendor: Wedding Planner Website: Kate Parker Weddings About Me: Kate Parker is the owner of Kate Parker Weddings, a wedding planning and floral and event design studio located on the Seacoast of NH. KPW specializes in simple and sophisticated weddings throughout New England and New York and also provides lighting services, paper products, custom out of town welcome baskets and music entertainment. Kate loves to work with as many details as possible- ribbon banding, monograms, favor tags etc to make each wedding unique and fabulous! She lives in Somersworth, NH with her husband Ryan, son Zachary, and chihuahua Lola. Although she doesn't have much free time, Kate loves to travel, read a good book, and entertain for close friends.
 
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