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Tented weddings are extremely popular, and for good reason! Like many brides, I chose to hold our reception under a tent to embrace the beauty of our location, to ensure a lovely backdrop for our design ideas, and to create a certain “feel” for our event. Because Southern Weddings is dedicated to bringing you the practical as well as the pretty, we wanted to take a few minutes today to offer some tips before you settle on this route for your own event. We’re doing it with the help of Sperry Tents, a total stand-out in the world of rentals!

Now, I used Sperry Tents for my own wedding, so I may be a little biased — but I was a fan of their graceful, classic sailcloth tents, hand-milled tent poles, and cheerful pennant flags long before I was engaged! Sperry Tents are handcrafted by sailmakers in coastal Massachusetts. They have a classic aesthetic that celebrates casual elegance, and as such, they pair effortlessly with any landscape, from a field to a beach to a sculptured backyard. They are simply gorgeous!

Gayle Brooker

Working with the folks at Sperry, we came up with a list of suggestions for those interested in holding a tented wedding:

1. Assess your bad weather tolerance. Before you sign on the dotted line, honestly ask yourself how you would feel if it rained on your big day. No one wants to imagine a gloomy wedding, but are you the type to roll with the punches and embrace a muddy hem? Or would you rather not add the stress of weather-watching to your final wedding to-do list? There’s no right answer, but it is important to be honest with yourself.

2. Make a bad weather plan. If you’ve decided you’re hardy enough for a tented wedding, come up with a back-up plan. If you’re marrying at a vineyard, your back-up plan might be an indoor event space on site. If you’re marrying in a field, however, your back-up plan might be rain flaps. My rain plan was one reason I was so happy to go with Sperry – most rental companies’ rain flaps are REALLY ugly, but Sperry’s are made from the same materials as the rest of their tent and are, if not ideal, still lovely. They’re also included in the standard rental package, so you don’t have to worry about an add-on expense!

The Sperry tent from my own wedding!

3. Be realistic about the rental needs that come with a tent. Some folks assume a tented wedding will be less expensive than renting a ballroom or other venue, but that’s generally not the case. If you’re pitching your tent near an existing structure, you might only need to rent tables and chairs. If, however, you’re not near a fully-equipped venue, your rental list might run considerably longer, from a generator to portable restrooms to flatware, glassware, china, and a complete bar set up!

4. Communicate with your vendors about their needs. As you draw up your rental list, be sure to work closely with your caterer and other vendors to make sure their needs are met. For instance, your caterer might require a separate cook tent for food preparation. Likewise, the space needs of a band or a DJ might influence the size tent you need to reserve.

Gayle Brooker

5. Plan your space carefully. I don’t know about y’all, but spatial issues are not my forte, and when faced with trying to figure out how many ___ foot tables could fit in our ___ foot tent, I was baffled. Enter: Sperry’s AMAZING space planning tool. After selecting your tent size and shape on their website, you can add and play around with a ton of different decor options to come up with the perfect arrangement. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful this was to me!! Here’s the layout we finally settled on:

6. Reserve add-ons for the weather. Have your heart set on a tented wedding in July in the South? Bless your heart! Consider renting fans to cool guests off at dinner and on the dance floor. Getting married in the cooler months? Portable heaters can make a world of difference.

7. Make a pick-up plan. If you’re organizing things without a wedding planner, remember that you’ll be responsible for organizing pick-up of your rentals post-event. Most tent and rental companies will want to disassemble and pick up their items the next morning, so coordinate with your venue to make sure this is okay.

Tanja Lippert via Southern Weddings

Sperry Tents are available for rent through their network of licensed providers throughout the South. For much more information and to reserve yours, head to their website!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I failed on number one and knew I therefore needed an indoor venue, but I would LOVE to attend a wedding under a Sperry tent!

  2. avatar Sarah reply

    I totally fell hard for Sperry tents long before I got even got engaged, but with all the additional rental costs described above (plus the stage and dance floor, oy!), a regular Sperry at the size we needed was out of reach. The gal we’re working with at the tent company offered us a great compromise- we’re having the wooden Sperry poles but with a plain vinyl top. This ends up being only a little bit more than a regular tent with the metal poles! Totally worth it! Plus we’re getting all the benefits you mentioned (layout planning, pretty sidewalls, etc) since we’re going with a company that carries Sperry tents! I’m still a little sad we won’t be able to stare up at those hand stitched lines though…

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] We tried to ignore our growling stomachs in the latest Southern Delicacy post. We shared our best tips for tented weddings, with the help of our friends from Sperry Tents. We were inspired by a dreamy, pastel anniversary […]

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