Tenting: What To Expect For Your Wedding Day!
So you decided that you are going to have your wedding underneath a large tent. You have spent hours and hours searching for the right company and you believe you finally found the one! You put a deposit down, signed a contract, and bam, your tent and equipment are now reserved. In the days following, you begin to wonder… I’ve never dealt with using a large tent, what did I get myself into?! I have so many vendors all coming in at different times for this to be perfect, what if something goes wrong? How is this going to work?
The good news is, you are not alone. Everyone goes through some stage of worry and stress while planning their big day, especially when they’re using tents for the first time. Unless you are an event planner, a decorator, or in charge of your companies’ corporate events, you’ve likely had no experience with tents. In this post, were going to walk you through what a typical installation looks like so that when you end up going through this, you are prepared and can reduce your stress.
We’ll start by saying, tent weddings are much simpler than you may think. Most, if not all, of the logistics are done by the tent company. They are the professionals and they do this every day. So rest assured, the last thing they would want is to ruin your wedding and have an unhappy customer. Of course, there are exceptions and these we would have to cover on a whole new post!
Outdoor tent weddings can be divided into four days:
1. Installation Day
2. Item & Décor Day
3. Wedding Day
4. Clean-Up Day.
This is the case for most weddings but there are definitely some exceptions. If you have your wedding at a specific venue with strict rules, then perhaps you may only have two days to accomplish all 4 of these parts.
Day 1 - Installation Day
The tent company starts with loading all of the equipment for your event which is actually a very critical stage. Most established companies use rental software’s and triple check everything to ensure that they have the correct order and the exact number of pieces needed. A tent may have hundreds of pieces that are so crucial that even one missing piece can delay installation by hours. A typical load time for a larger tent is anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours. This stage is seldom ever rushed as accuracy is prioritized over speed. Once loaded, the crew is on their way!
The crew arrives and begins to unload hundreds of pieces. The look on people’s faces is priceless as they don't believe that these random metal beams will be larger than a house! This here is actually one of our favourite parts as you see the amazement in everyone’s face as the structure comes to life. A typical tent installation takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete and is weighed down using either concrete blocks or spikes. If spikes are possible, choose that option - it looks much nicer than having concrete blocks at each leg!
If you were planning on adding chandeliers or decorations that will hang from the top of the tent, make sure that you notify the crew before they begin setting up. Most fixtures are easy to install during specific stages of the installation. If you wait to tell a crew member until the end, it can make the process take much longer than necessary. Make sure you also notify the tent company beforehand about what you had in mind so that they can notify the crew and tell you what the best plan of action is going forward.
Once the tent is installed, you can theoretically move onto the second stage “Item & décor day”. The reason I put this part on a separate day is solely to buy you time. When you try and cram your tent installation and décor all in one day, you give yourself no room for error. In addition, tent and décor companies are usually two different vendors - thus trying to organize multiple vendors efficiently may be quite difficult. Such work is typically given to an event planner that knows both vendors and how to organize them to work in the most efficient way possible. Don’t give yourself the added stress and take our advice when we say that you need to spread out your wedding installation!
Day 2 - Item & Décor Day
Tent rental companies typically carry their own tables and chairs in which they install on Day 1. However, if this isn’t the case and you are using a different vendor, Day 2 is when you want to schedule these items in. All of the tables, chairs, linens, and decorations can go under the tent once the tent is up. If you are involved in this process, you could start right after the tent is installed which will buy you more time on Day 2 for the finer details. We will say one thing though, do not be afraid to “bother” or “inconvenience” your groomsmen and bridesmaids. Put them to work! It is their job to help out in every way possible! They better be present on both day 1 and day 2. And hey, you will be present when they get married so it evens out! I can’t tell you how many times we have arrived after an installation to do a final quality check, only to see the poor bride and groom decorating without any assistance. Do not let this happen on your wedding we beg of you, otherwise you’ll be so stressed out and tired that you won’t be able to wait until your wedding is over! We’ve even coined the phrases “no help needed Henry” and “do it yourself Yori”. Don’t be a Henry or a Yori.
Day 3 – Wedding Day
You want to wake up on your wedding day knowing that your only role is to show up. On this day it shouldn’t be your job to worry about installations, decorating, or changes. Why add stress on your wedding day? If there are any small items or last minute changes, no problem… You have a dedicated team of bridesmaids and groomsmen at your service! And if you choose not to have them, or it isn’t a part of your culture, then designate family, good friends, or an event planner to take charge if need be! Again, don’t be a Henry or a Yori. Try to focus on yourself and feel the best you can on this very special day!
Day 4 – Clean-Up Day
The tent is the first thing to arrive and last thing to depart, so this means that you need to ensure that all items are clear from underneath the tent. Most companies offer a removal service where you can just leave your tables, chairs, linens, and decor and they’ll clean it for you (usually an added charge). If they have this option, the extra $200 to $300 may be worth it when the last thing you want to do is clean-up the morning after your big night. Something to definitely consider.
The take home message here is that you want to spread the time for your installation rather than cram it. This may seem obvious but day after day we see people making the same mistake. When you are estimating times make sure to double, if not triple the amount of time you think it will realistically take. Factor in what we like to call, “uh-oh periods”. These are dead periods of time that you place between each component. We know its 2019 and we are all about efficiency and not wasting a second of our day but believe us when we tell you, these uh-oh periods will save you from a lot of stress. If the tent installers told you it'll take 4 hours, pretend they said 6, if the caterers told you they need 1 hour, assume they need 2.5. In the worst case scenario, if a component is finished early, you can start the next one! If for any reason someone shows up late, it won’t be as detrimental to anything because you planned the possible need for more time.
We wish you the best of luck!
The Cascade Tents Team.