Backyard Tent Weddings 101

What you MUST know BEFORE Considering This Option FOR YOUR SPECIAL DAY

So you have that stunning new ring on your finger and are in the beginning stages of dreaming ideas for your special day.  I would say that 9 times out of 10, girls envision the "big white tent" when they picture their wedding day.   I get about a phone call a month from a prospective client who is considering the backyard DIY tent wedding (usually in hopes of "saving money") and is looking for my help and thoughts on how to get started. 

I agree, the white tent wedding provides a beautiful landscape for your |event.  However, there is MUCH to consider before heading down this path.  In an effort to enlighten prospective clients on this vary topic, here are my two cents before you start knee deep down this road.

#1 - Why are your considering this option?

Let me start off right away by saying -- if you are considering the backyard white tent wedding in hopes of "saving money" on your wedding, turn away.  Do it now :)    Its not gonna happen.  I realize that the $100+ per person price tag of the standard banquet hall options out there today sounds scary when you start doing the numbers, however for all of the reasons in the "extras" section below, you will end up at this very number (and likely more!) when you head down this path. TRUST me (and also call around some places and start getting prices on the items I mention below).  You'll know why soon enough.

If cost is not your reasoning for the white tent wedding, then keep reading and dreaming through the additional questions below :) 

Are you gonna be ok with the plan B?

We are not in Arkansas, USA.  The shows that we see on the television with all these stunning backyard tent and farm weddings are happening in The States where the weather is pretty predictable and nice.  Not to mention they have infinite budgets and lots of support to pull it off without a hitch! 

In Ontario (and Canada in general), things are VERY unpredictable.  From freak snow storms in late April to torrential rains in the dead of summer - we can never plan for what mother nature has in store for us.  And when we get hit in Ontario with fluke weather, its bad!  Really bad!   

So say you've spent the money, planned your dream big day, and even prepared the added precaution of a plan b; are you going to be ok with running with it??   If you and your guests are melting on a 37 degree day under that white tent with no air conditioning, are you gonna be ok? If your hair is frizzy and make up is melting down your face on a raining or humid day, is that gonna send you over the edge?   If there is a torrential downpour and your getting married in the foyer of your aunts house vs. under the willow tree, can you live with that? If you are keen on things going "as planned", this is likely not the option for you.  However, if you are an easy going bride (with an easy going family I should add), and taking the risk that weather COULD wreak havoc  and this paragraph hasn't made you even flinch (sorry I had to just to make sure), then READ ON .... 

Have you considered all the "extras"? & Is your budget feasible?

I'm putting these two things together as they go hand in hand.  With backyard / tent weddings there are A LOT of "extras" for things that generally come with a banquet hall venue that you are likely not even thinking about at this moment but will add up quick (in both time, planning and stress).  So to name just a few:

  • public toilets / portable hand washing stations (from $1500+) *normal residential bathrooms cannot handle group demand and do you want people coming through your house?
  • tables (from $20 per table)
  • ceremony chairs (from $4 per chair)
  • reception chairs (from $4 per chair)
  • glassware (for all drink types.  Based on an average of 1 drink per person per hour) *water glasses, champagne flutes, wine glasses, shot glasses, cocktail glasses, beer glasses, coffee mugs, tea cups, martini glasses ++++ pending what you are servings (from $.20 per piece plus the cost of damages) 
  • linens (from $15 per table) - table linens, cleaning linens, napkins, replacements, extras, etc. For every guest table, cocktail table, reception table and any other table in your plans
  • chair covers (from $2 per chair)
  • the tent (and yes you'll need the sub flooring / dance are too!) (upwards of $3000 depending on size of wedding) *note the style, quality, set up, take down, rental periods. Sub flooring is highly recommended in case of bad weather and so that ladies heels are not poking into grass.  Allows better stability for tables, chairs and other floor items.
  • generators, power cords, lighting *generally require a DJ PLUS a tech company in this case as tech is all brought in
  • portable sound equipment *DJs require to bring a lot more in as more banquet facilities have plug and play systems to tap into
  • portable water storage tanks i.e. for catering company, portable bathrooms, etc. 
  • rental garbage bins & garbage disposal fees *who will dispose of all trash after the event and how will you get it there?
  • kitchen facilities (food trucks) *consider how no onsite kitchen affects the menu you can serve 
  • serving staff / wait staff / bar staff
  • bar rental 
  • additional permits / insurances / by laws *check local bylaws re music / sound etc. 

So much more here I have not scratched the surface on, but just to give you a sense for numbers and planning extent..... 

Do you have the help you'll need?

When people take on an outdoor / backyard tent wedding, these are usually at a private home, farm or rented farm space.  Because of all the extras, there is a lot of extra work in the area of carting things over to the wedding site, arranging vendors, managing deliveries, set up, logistics etc.  This is where hiring a wedding planner or at least of day of  event coordinator can REALLY come into value for your special day!  This also adds to your budget.  So keep that in mind as well.  I get many phone calls from families who have started down the road planning on their own and quickly become overwhelmed with what to do, how to proceed and have not thought about the details above. 


So, if you're still dreaming white tents and rolling pastures for your dream wedding, please give me a call and we chat some more through this to make your dream a reality! My intention with this blog post is not to turn you away from the idea, but merely to be enlightened with respect to the realities. 


Portfolio Samples

Here are some portfolio samples of white tent weddings I've been blessed to work on!

Backyard Family Farm Wedding

tent wedding @ belcroft

Rustic Tent Wedding @ Midland 

BARN WEDDING @ CAVAN