How to Rent a Wedding Canopy Tent

This charming setting for a wedding takes some careful calculations

By Cynthia Myers

Wedding tent with pink paper lanterns
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A wedding canopy tent allows you to enjoy the beauty of an outdoor wedding and reception while remaining sheltered from rain or sun. Tents come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, from simple pop-up canopies for a small wedding to large party tents with side walls, windows, floors and even heating and air conditioning units. A little research and preparation will help you find the right tent for your wedding party.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Finalize your guest list before you rent your tent so you'll know how much space you need.

Step 1:

Determine what size tent you'll need. The American Rental Association offers these guidelines: For a wedding ceremony with guests seated in rows, you'll need six square feet per person. For dinner seating, figure 10 square feet per guest if you're using round tables with 10 people per table and eight square feet per person for long rectangular tables. You'll need 12 square feet per person if your round tables only seat six to eight. Allow six to eight square feet per person at a cocktail reception. In addition to guests, you need to figure an additional two to four square feet per person for dancing, 100 square feet for the bar, 100 square feet for a band or DJ and 100 square feet for each buffet table. You'll also need to allow at least two feet of clearance on all sides of the tent when you set up, so make sure your space will allow for a tent large enough to accommodate your guests.

Step 2:

Find out your venue's policies on tents. Some locations may limit the size of the tent or the locations where you can set up. Ask how far in advance of the wedding you'll be able to set up the tent. If you can set up a few days before the wedding you'll have more time to decorate the tent.

Step 3:

Contact several rental companies for estimates. Find out what their rental price includes. Does the price quoted include professional set up and taking down the tent at the end of the rental period? Does the tent come with pole covers---fabric covers to dress up the metal poles? Can you add a marquis entrance or sidewalls to the canopy if you desire? Some companies will quote a separate price for each option, while others will offer rental packages that may include chairs, tables and even table linens. If you will be renting all these items, you may be able to get a better deal by signing up for a wedding package.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If your estimate for the space you'll need for guests falls between two tent sizes, choose the larger tent.
  • Don't forget to ask rental companies about the important extras: heaters or coolers and dance floors.
  • For large tents, compare the cost of buying used to renting. You'll have the additional labor of setting it up yourself, but you may be able to save money.
  • You may need a building permit and a fire permit for your tent. Check your local regulations carefully.

About the Author

Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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Rent equipment

Among the many decisions to be made are some basics: tables and chairs and tents. Keep in mind, rentals should be reserved at least 60 to 90 days in advance. And don't think of this as a boring task -- chairs come in all styles and will go a long way to setting the style of your wedding.

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Wedding Glossary


A large serving dish that sits over a low flame to keep its contents warm. Popular at buffets.

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