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Simple Tent Wedding Receptions

Tent Wedding Reception

Lovely Tent Reception


I just want a simple tent reception. … I  want to save money by having a tent wedding…It will be so much easier to have a reception in my backyard…  How many of you have said or are saying this?

Tent Receptions can be just beautiful but let me tell you there is more to it than you think.

Things you need to know when planning a Tent Reception.

  1. Size of the Tent or Tents
  • This will be determined by the number of guests.
  • Are you having a DJ or live Band (They will need room to set up)
  • Dance floor size (you will need to rent this)
  • Bar and Cocktail area (The bar and number of bartenders will be determined by the number of guests)
  • Catering Staging area (will you need a tent for your caterer or is there a separate staging area?)

 2.  Electrical Source

  • What type of electrical outlets area available for your caterer. Can they support the  electrical load?  (Fire is not what you want at your wedding)   Are they bringing convection ovens, microwaves, coffee pots, fans…..?
  • Will you need lights for the evening hours of your reception?  What type of lights will you use?

   3.  Water Source

  • Yes, you will need water for the caterer to make coffee, ice tea, lemonade (or whatever) but also to wash glasses, dishes and clean tables.
  • Will there be a sink for the caterer or will they have to put together a wash unit?  How are they going to wash their hands?
     4.  Restroom Facilities
  • Are there restrooms available?
  • How many?  Can they accommodate the number of your guests?
  • Do you have to rent porta potties?
  • Will you need extra hand washing stations?
  • What about changing diapers, where will your guests with babies change a diaper?
    5.  What will you need to Rent?
  • Tent or Tents
  • Sides for the tents just in case of rain or high winds
  • Tables both long for buffet lines and long tables for the caterer to prepare the food
  • Round Tables for Guests and long tables for head table
  • Tables for the Bartender and a Bar (you could just use a few long tables but if you want the bar look you will need to rent it.)
  • Glassware, silverware (you can use plastic or  Bio friendly paper and bamboo are available) Talk with your caterer about what they include.  You may be able to negotiate a package that includes dinnerware and linens.
  • Linens:  Tablecloths and  napkins
  • Chairs
  • Porta Potties
  • Hand Washing Stations
  • Dance floor (size will be determined by the number of guest.  Make sure you take this into consideration when choosing the tent size.)
  • Lights
  • Ice (talk to your caterer will they provide the ice for the bar?  How will you store that much ice?)
     6.  Parking
  • Where will people park?
  • What if it rains can they still park in that field?
    7.  What is the layout of the land that you want this reception at?
  •  Is it Flat?  Hilly?  This will determine how and if they can put a tent up.
    8.  The Cake
  • When will the cake be delivered?  Where will it go until it is cut?  What if it is 98 degrees with 90% humidity?  It will melt unless refrigerated.  NOTE:  When choosing your frosting take this into consideration.  Ask your Bakery what is the best to have in the heat.
     9.  Comfort of the guests
  • Will you have the tent air conditioned or heated?  (This can be done but it will cost you.  You will need a very large electrical source like a generator)
  • Will you have fans?  How many will you need?  Where will you get them?
  • Will you have heaters?  How many will you need?  Where will you get them?
    10.  Restrictions and Liability 
  •  Are there any neighborhood restrictions?
  •  When does the city require you to shut the party down?
  • Will you need an extra insurance policy for the Day?
  • What if someone gets drunk and drives how do you keep yourself from liability.


These are just a few things to think about when you are planning a tent reception.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is when they hire the caterer.  They don’t think to ask about the dinnerware they just assume the caterer provides that …They Do Not always do that, Ask!  The more you have to rent the costlier it becomes.  They also do not think about a staging area for the caterer.  Yes they make the food and bring it but they have to put it somewhere  and  there is still prep work that has to be done.  Washing the dishes is also an after thought.  If there is no sink is there at least a hose.  Your caterer will need to know that in order to set up a make shift wash station.
I think the greatest concern is the electricity.  Can the facility handle the electrical needs of your reception?  If you are not sure if your farm can handle it  find someone that can answer that questions before your rent the tent and make the decision.
What about restrictions?  If you are within the city limits you should check with your city officials to make sure of any town ordinances that must be observed.  You don’t want an officer standing at your reception at 9 pm telling you that you have to send your guests home.
Liability!  This is a big one but most homeowner’s policy will let you add a limited liability clause for a fee.  This is definitely worth t he few extra dollars to ensure you from any damages a guest may cause.  Check with your insurance agent.
I am not trying to say do not have a tent reception but at least know what you are getting into.   Do you have a Rain Alternative?  What if the weather becomes severe what will you do?  Are you be wilingl to send everyone home if there is a threat of a tornado?  You have to be realistic.  If it is summer it is going to be hot.  If it is the spring it may rain.  If it is in the fall it may get cold.  This is the joy of an outdoor reception.
We had one of our planners Ade do a great blog on Outdoor Weddings.  Read it you will be glad you did.
Most of all.  You’re getting married, keep it in perspective and enjoy the moment!
We have some great resources for you to find rentals. You can call Shelly at Le’t Party located at 16 Currency Drive  Bloomington, IL 61704 (309) 663-7177  Here is her website  Shellie has always had our back.  I cannot tell you the number of phone calls we have made when the weather turns ugly.
If you need to rent porta potties here is the place to go Blue Springs
Two Great Outdoor Reception Venues

The Burr House Bed and Breakfast  You will just love Maryann

210 E Chestnut St
Bloomington IL 61701-3020


Broadview Mansion Doug is one of the nicest people you will ever work with!

1301 S. Fell Avenue Normal IL



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