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To Tent or not to Tent? That is the Question!


Memorial Day is the traditional beginning of summer and with that the beginning of outdoor party season. A question I hear often is, “Do I need a tent?” There is not a stock answer to that question. There are many factors to consider; weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision possible based on your event needs, concerns and budget.  Given the unpredictable and sometimes unseasonable weather we have had the past few years here in the Northeast, the answer may seem obvious. Even though we are always hopeful that Mother Nature will bring us her best on our special day, the truth is we need to be prepared if that does not happen.  If it does rain, can you accommodate your guests in your home? If not, you may need a tent or extend your home entertainment space by covering a deck or patio, or you may have to reduce your guest list so that you have the flexibility to entertain indoors or out. I have often heard from clients that they do not want the party in their home for whatever reason- so in that case, you either go off premise, or you get a tent.  If you want to keep your guests out in the tent, the bar, food and music must also be outside- people generally congregate wherever the bar is!

I prefer to think of some of the added benefits a tent can offer aside from shelter from the rain. On a sunny afternoon event, a tent can offer shade and refuge to your guests. Personally, I do not recommend food for buffets be out in full sun; and even though I LOVE the sun, I do not like to eat in full sun.

I like to enjoy my food and eat it in comfort, and a tent for shade can offer that.  A tent can also create a space that can be transformed by décor and furniture. At night, a tent can offer ambience as well as a way of illuminating a dark back yard that does not have ample outdoor lights for a nighttime event. String lights come in all shapes and sizes, and so do lanterns, up lights, gobos, etc. the options are endless and have come a long way since disco balls! Most tent companies offer lighting options, or your DJ can offer up lighting; florists, lighting and décor companies are also options for lighting and your tent offers the backdrop and structure needed to hang your lights. Truly, your options are endless and only limited by your imagination and budget.

Sometimes the best value can be obtained by bundling your services which is something I recommend whenever possible as a way of simplifying things-one stop shopping. As previously discussed, if you need lighting for a nighttime outdoor event, maybe a tent is the best option. If you need only basic tables and chairs and a tent, many tent companies offer that service too. Recently, I was working with a client that wanted some interactive outdoor games- and we found out that many tent companies also offer those inflatable games and will offer discounts with the more products and services you can get from them.

A careful review of the contracts in advance can prevent any misunderstandings that can ruin a day. It is important to realize that some vendors do not like to “mix” their equipment with other vendors on site- you need to prioritize what is most important and build out from there. If you only need the tent for “in case of rain” there is usually a rain clause/cancellation policy and deposit fee that must be paid for that situation. Does your contract include sides in case of wind and rain? Items such as heaters, fans, lights, attendants, generators, flooring, gutters, etc are usually extra. In many cases a permit may be required for a tent- it is good to check with your homeowner’s insurance, too. The permit process can take a few days to complete the paperwork, have the inspection and get approval. Additionally, equipment does sell out. In short, it is always important to plan ahead. 

Are some of these questions and concerns on your mind? Call me! I would be happy to meet with you personally to discuss your event with you and help you come to the best decisions that meet your event needs and budget and relieve your anxiety.

Have a great long weekend!

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