Tenting an event is an innovative way to use a blank canvas to bring your unique vision into reality. However, it can be overwhelming to understand the process of choosing the right tent due to the numerous options that are available to you and your guests.
Tents can adapt in size with different guest counts while providing a chance to be creative with light to heavyweight décor. There are four main styles of tents available for rental from your local rental provider, they are known in the industry as Pole tents, Sailcloth Tents, Frame Tents and Structure Tents . These styles are based on the construction of the tents, and they have their own advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered to determine which tent is best suited for your event. Some components that will help guide you in your selection process are the location, size, weather conditions, décor options, appearance and budget.
With over 30 years of knowledge and experience in special events, Party Reflections, Inc. President, Dan Hooks, CERP breaks down the decision making process to assist you in finding the best solution for the tenting needs of your upcoming event.
Step 1: Location – Once a location is selected, it may eliminate certain styles of tenting like the pole or sailcloth version if staking is not allowed. If the space still allows for all 4 styles to be considered, the next criteria may be an aesthetic choice and the form and design of the tent taken into consideration when making the selection.
Step 2 : Form & Functionality – The tent form styles are pole, sailcloth, frame and structure. Each style has its own character and must be addressed regarding the décor and theme of the event. Some people may prefer the more flowing style of the pole tent that is void of metal framing in the ceiling or they may prefer the cleaner look around the perimeter of the frame because it lacks the ropes and stakes extending from the sides of the tent. Functionality must also be considered depending on the type of event. If the event is a social event with no need to hang heavy lighting equipment or décor elements from the ceiling, either style may work.
Step 3: Guest # Count & Square Footage – One of the major factors that goes into the selection of the tent is the number of guests invited to the event. From a spacing perspective, all tent styles are created equal because they provide coverage of a certain square foot range. However, the location will probably dictate how this square footage can be applied. Trees, light poles, fountains and elevation changes are just a few of the limiting factors that will affect the overall size of the tent in question. When determining the square footage needed overall, the first place to start is with the number of guests and the type of event being held under the tent.
Step 4: Adding Décor & Tent Elements – Once you have determined the space needed for the guests, you must now include the additional space needed for all the service and décor elements associated with the event. You must add all space requirements to the guest total to determine a total square footage needed. This includes dance floor, staging for band, buffet tables, service tables, bars and ANYTHING that requires space not occupied by guests. Most reputable rental companies have the ability to produce a CAD drawing of the event to show you the functional elements that can be placed on your specific location to determine the correct sizing of the tent.
Step 5: Budget – If, after all these criteria are exhausted, you still have a choice to make regarding style, perhaps budget may provide the answer. Typically, pole tents are the least expensive per square foot due to the cost of the product being less since it does not incorporate the amount of metal needed for the frame or structure tents. Sailcloth tents are usually more expensive than standard pole tents because the fabric used in the top is not as durable and will need to be replaced more often. Next, as far as cost is concerned, would be the frame tents. These tend to get more expensive by size as the amount of material costs increase as well as the labor and equipment to install them increases. The most expensive style of tent is definitely the structure tents mainly due to their construction costs and the unparalleled strength they provide to create the most open spaces without poles or other obstructions under your tent.
Sometimes referred to as “staked-down” tents, they are the oldest style from a design perspective but are the most economical way to cover a large amount of people under one roof. These require an installation surface that will allow for large metal stakes to be driven into the ground around the perimeter of the tent. These can range in size from 20′ wide to 120′ wide and can span hundreds of feet in length depending on the need. Great for Weddings, Festivals, Company Picnics. Anywhere that staking is possible, and the surface is relatively level.
1. Planner: McLean Events Photo: Perry Vaile Rentals: Party Reflections 80×90 Pole Tent, Market Lights
2.Planner: Erin Mclean Events Photo: Michelle Lyerly Rentals: Party Reflections 60×120 Pole White Tent Custom Draping, Black Chiavari Chair
3. Rentals: Party Reflections 40×80 Pole Tent 4. Rentals: Party Reflections
With all of the same construction attributes of the regular pole tent, sailcloth tents are designed to have a more “natural” look with stained wooden poles instead of aluminum and a translucent top allowing for more natural light during a daytime event. They have rounded ends instead of squared off corners. These tents are designed for more intimate open-air events with sizes ranging from 30′ wide to 60′ wide.
1.Planner:Rock Springs Center Venue: Flowers Landing Photo: Dana Jo Photography Rentals: Party Reflections Sailcloth Tent
2.Planner: C and D Events Venue: Weymouth Center for the Arts Photo: Old South Studios Rentals: Party Reflections 44×63 Sailcloth Tent, Mahogany Chiavari Chair
3.Planner: Gather Together Events Venue: River Forest Manor Photo: Katherine Miles Jones Photography Rentals: Party Reflections
4.Planner:Jessica Rourke Photo:Landon Jacob Photography Rentals: Party Reflections44×83 Sailcloth Tent
5.Photo:Missy Mclamb Photographers Rentals: Party ReflectionsSailcloth Tent
The most popular and versatile of all the styles, the frame tents are free of internal poles which helps with the placement of functional elements such as staging and dance floors. This style tent ranges in size from 6′ wide to 50′ wide. Each size can be expanded in length by various increments of 10′, 15′, 20′ depending on the size of the event. Frame Tents are great for tenting in confined spaces such as patios, decks or courtyards and can be used for all types of events from weddings and social events to corporate and sporting events. Clear vinyl tops are an elegant option for this style tent during certain times of the year when the weather permits.
1.Planner: Sally Oakley Wedding & Events Venue:Pavilion at Angus Barn Photo: Phillip Herndon Photography Rentals: Party Reflections30×80 Frame Clear Tent, Martini Leg
2.Planner: Mosaic Catering + Events Venue: Rock Barn Country Club Photo: Rivkah Fine Art Photography Rentals: Party Reflections 40×66 Frame Tent
3.Planner: Gather Together Venue: Banner Elk Photo:Nancy Ray Photography Rentals: Party Reflections 50×60 Clear Gable Frame Tent, Holden Whitewash Chairs
Known as “clearspan” tents. They can be anywhere from 10′ wide to 200′ wide with unlimited lengths. One of the main advantages of the structure tent is its ability to support large A/V and lighting truss systems for concerts or technical corporate events. These are the only style tents to be considered if any type of significant weight is to be hung from the ceiling. These tents are designed to handle the most adverse conditions of any style tent and can be installed on a semi-permanent basis if required. They are also engineered to allow glass walls and doors to create the most secure, weather proof, and environmentally conditioned space available.Virtually unlimited in its application for short and long-term use such as outdoor pool coverings, weddings, exhibit halls, sporting events, large events and industrial warehousing.
1.Planner: Ivy Robinson Events Venue: Childress Vineyards Photo: Corbin Gurkin Rentals: Party Reflections 82×164 Clear Top Structure Tent, Ghost Chair
2. Location: Hight Point, NC Rentals: Party Reflections Clear Top Structure Tent, Frame Tent, Pole Tent 3. Rentals: Party Reflections 50×98 Clear Top Structure Tent
Best tent rental for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter?
Spring: Sailcloth, Pole with Blackout Vinyl Tops
Summer: Pole, Frame, Structure with Blackout Vinyl Tops
Fall: Frame or Structure Clear Vinyl Tops,
Winter: Frame or Structure Clear Vinyl Tops
What size tent rental do I need for cocktail reception & seated dinner?
(Cocktail is 8 sq. ft/person and seated is 15 sq. ft/person, calculated by the local fire marshal’s office)
a) 100 guests Cocktail: 100 x 8= 800 sq. ft | Seated: 100 x 15= 1,500 sq. ft
b) 150 guests Cocktail: 150 x 8= 1,200 sq. ft | Seated: 150 x 15= 2,250 sq. ft
c) 200 guests Cocktail: 200 x 8= 1,600 sq. ft | Seated: 200 x 15= 3,000 sq. ft
d) 300 guests Cocktail: 300 x 8= 2,400 sq. ft | Seated: 300 x 15 = 4,500 sq. ft
How do I determine the extra square footage of the tent rental needed by adding extra elements?
A 300-guest count can range from 7,200 sq. ft and upwards adding the additional elements to your tent. Most reputable rental companies have the ability to produce a CAD drawing of the event to show you how the functional elements can be placed on your specific location to determine the correct sizing of the tent.
300 guest count, 7,200 sq. ft tent configuration: 60′ x 120′ pole tent, 82′ x 98′ structure tent, or it could be designed as a 4,500 sq. ft dining tent such as a 50′ x 90′ frame tent and an additional 2,700 sq. ft 30′ x 90′ dancing tent.
Having an outdoor event is the ultimate way to customize your venue and make your event unique. A professional local tent rental provider will be happy to construct a plan for you and your guests to make your outdoor event memorable and successful. They will handle all the permitting and interactions with fire marshals if necessary and walk you through a production schedule that fits with your desired location.
Tenting an event is the ideal way to make your vision come to life. Following the tenting guide above will ensure that you will have the information you need to tent your event successfully. Once you take the first step, everything else falls into place.
So, go ahead, tent you event!