You know, working in the wedding industry for so long, we’ve wondered if there would ever be a day when weather wasn’t a concern. When we could look at our weather apps, catch a glimpse of predicted rain, snow, sleet, excessive heat, and just snap our fingers to cancel it for the day. Well, we still haven’t figured out a way to hack that part out yet, sigh, but we’ve grown pretty close to some wedding vendors and all-around boss rental professionals who have come close to cracking the code. Thus far, Sperry Tents hasn’t discovered a way to control Mother Nature, but since the company started tenting in the late ‘70s, they’ve been collaborating with her on hundreds and thousands of outdoor weddings – and the adventure has manifested many beautiful and memorable days. This team knows what it takes to work with the environment for al fresco events, and they’ve helped us come up with some tips for navigating a future weathersome wedding.
Find peace of mind.
Photo Credit: Erica J Photography; @ericajphotography
If weather “ifs” make you nervous, your best bet is to work with an experienced tent company. To measure said company’s reputation and reliability, look for 1) tenured sales managers and crew chiefs (VIPs with longevity and veteran status), 2) frequent & encouraging positive online reviews, and 3) vendor referrals (truly, vendors are the ones who see what happens BTS on setup days; since this is their business, too, they’ll know if things usually go off without a hitch or not). Ideally, you want the tent company to be familiar with your venue or residence (as in having visited and measured it in person), so that if the forecast sours, everyone can quickly address problem areas that might require extra tenting or flooring.With that said, if your wedding locale or date tends towards grey skies, you should talk to your sales manager about putting together a “rain plan.” This is a list of supplemental equipment that is needed only in the event of rain, such as a ceremony tent and/or extra, covered walkways to assure the comfort of catering staff and guests. Unlike a wedding’s “main plan,” the “rain plan” is deposited separately for a lesser percentage and the balance payment can be cancelled beforehand if the equipment is not needed. Similarly, if your date has the potential for temperature extremes, discuss reserving fans or heaters. A little forethought can save a lot of that last-minute panic. And that’s a really great thing once the big day countdown gets down to single digits.
Connect with nature.
No one can blame couples for being drawn to outdoor ceremonies and receptions. Sunshine touching a breezy, balmy beach or serene meadows, freshly-clipped lawns boasting hydrangea blooms, rocky cliffs rushed by crashing waves! It’s much more authentic and expedient to host your wedding outdoors than to try and bring natural elements inside a building.
Besides tent placement, there are a number of subtle, effective ways to ensure that guests connect with the surrounding landscape. Post-ceremony, opt for an outdoor cocktail hour centered on a tented bar. Sprinkle high tops, Adirondack chairs, lounge furniture, umbrellas in stands, and lawn games around the tent to give guests destination choices. Then, for reception décor, opt for floral installations inspired by local blooms and wildlife to blur the line between indoors (in-tent) and out.
To combat the elements, we love it when couples and wedding planners get creative and provide parasols, essence/spa waters, and fans on hot days and pashminas, patio heaters, and hot cocoa bars on cold ones. Have a variety of toiletries and amenities on-hand in the restrooms in case anyone needs suntan lotion, bug spray, or hydrating facial mists.
Make it yours.
Unlike an indoor venue, where the décor is established and ‘built in,’ a tent is a much more neutral and malleable canvas. You can take the style of a tented wedding in a variety of directions, from Nantucket preppy to Colorado boho to Hamptons chic.
Once your theme is established, work with your tent company to select lighting and flooring that vibes with your desired style. Very intricate reception designs are typically executed by a team of vendors, including specialty furniture, décor, and lighting companies, under the direction of a wedding planner ((to make sure the staging is cohesive and thoughtful)). But no matter your budget, there are infinite ways to get creative with a tented reception—and that’s all part of the fun. We’ve seen everything from elaborate balloon installations to whole trees used for décor to patterned light displays projected onto tent canopies.
And our favorite thing about a tented wedding is that there’s no one way to do it. On top of a main reception tent, you can add a dance tent with lounge furniture or a kids’ tent with coloring, games, and bean bags. While a standard Sperry Tent is ivory, the majority of tent providers also rent their signature blue star design, which creates a uniquely whimsical look. Some creative couples order custom pennant flags for their tent, incorporating logos or colors that complement their event design.
Some of the most memorable wedding moments – and pictures – involve moving guests to and from destinations in creative, experiential ways. After your ceremony, lead able guests to the reception via a walking procession, with caterers offering champagne or signature cocktails along the way. Have a live instrumental group lead the way for extra points ((first line flair anyone??)). At a country club, scoop up guests in golf carts. At a yacht club, take them on a boat cruise. We’ve even seen epic mountaintop ceremonies that have swept guests off their feet with a scenic gondola ride up and back.
Light it up.
Photo Credit: Cappy Hotchkiss Photography; @cappyhotchkiss
Besides your tent’s quality ((remember, your tent is essentially your venue – so, you’ll want to do some due diligence to make sure it's👌)), lighting is a vital component of any tented wedding. It’s important to think about your lighting scheme in two phases: what looks elegant and distinguished during the day and what looks cool and dynamic at night. For daytime, the lighting should draw the eye upward with beautiful fixtures. But come dusk, your lighting should take advantage of the translucency of your canopy, which produces that trademark #sperryglow. Create a dance club atmosphere with colored uplights and projections and let guests get silly with props and photo booths.
Going back to that earlier point about being able to influence the weather: we guess it’d be cool from a quality control perspective, but then again, nature has the potential to do the most for nuptials. And fine art photography captures it stunningly. ((Seriously, we have yet to peep a tented wedding pic that we didn’t straight-up melt over)). Ugh. SO GOOD!
Head outdoors with Sperry Tents and spread your own #sperrylove. Note, they’re only available from their nationwide network of licensed providers, but all of them excel in creative planning and detail-oriented execution. So, you’ll get back even more than what you paid for!
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