The Advantages of a Tented Wedding

When it comes to the appeal of a tented wedding, there’s no clowning around. Michelle Kuenz-Malec explains the options.

When it came to her own big day, Great Events Group wedding coordinator Michelle Kuenz-Malec felt a certain amount of pressure for everything to go off without a hitch. To avoid the stress related to any drastic Calgary weather surprises during the August long-weekend affair, she chose to hold the ceremony in a clear-span tent that she set up by the pond at Spruce Meadows. Clear-span tents don’t require centre support poles, so they’re perfect for the ceremony portion of the wedding.

This impressive structure shone through on two levels: beauty and peace of mind. Not only were guests treated to a unique venue that allowed them to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty, they were also ensured protection from whatever nature threw their way.

“Usually, when people rent tents, they know they have to deal with the elements a little bit, and that’s kind of why they rent a tent,” says Kuenz-Malec. “If it rains, you’re protected.”

Find the Perfect Venue

If the cost associated with hosting a tented wedding on the family farm is spiralling out of your budget, consider a venue that is set up and ready to go for the entire season. Great Events Group will place this classic pole tent at Lloyd Park from June to late September 2015, enabling several parties to share the expenses.

“Most people don’t have the land to put up a tent, and there are not many tent venues in Calgary. So, for most people, this setup is a great option,” says Kuenz-Malec. “And, if you’re putting a tent in the city, you need to get permits from the City of Calgary, which is a major ordeal.”

The pole tent is a classic style that fits a country setting. The peaked roof is reminiscent of the Gatsby era, which is a wedding-decor style that’s popular right now. Kuenz-Malec points out that the towering flags can be customized for added flair. “I did a pirate wedding once, and did pirate flags on the masts,” she says. Of course, having no flags is an option, too.

Transform the Space

The interior of a classic pole tent lends to a great atmospheric shift from day to night. The poles holding up the 28-foot-high ceiling can be utilized in the decor scheme – in this case, draping crepe paper for a festive look. Other options include covering the poles in organza, or stringing white lights from pole to pole.

The most cost-effective and dramatic way to transform the look of the space at night is through lighting. Kuenz-Malec recommends getting creative to create a customized festive glow. “If somebody gets funky lighting for their wedding, it’s really cool because you can see it on the outside,” she says. The beacon effect is useful to guide guests to the venue in dark, country settings.

Decorate the Interior

One of the biggest advantages of a tent venue is the transformable decor. Unlike the barren walls of a community hall or a hotel banquet room, tents offer a built-in wow factor and visual interest. While the structure is beautiful on its own, it’s minimal enough to complement several different styles of decoration.

“A tent is great because it’s really just an empty space. You can do whatever you want with it,” says Kuenz-Malec. “Whenever anybody rents a tent from us, we do a full layout for them. You can put your head table wherever you want; you can put your dance floor wherever you want.”

If you’re lucky enough to secure a tent like the Gallery on the Green at Spruce Meadows, the lion’s share of decorating is already done. “The ceilings are permanently draped, which is a huge bonus because that costs thousands of dollars to do in a venue,” Kuenz-Malec says, noting she held her own dessert and dance at the elegant venue. “So having that already built in a venue is worth the entire rental.”

Often, the only decorations required to personalize the space are dramatic centrepieces and upgraded chairs. Fewer decoration considerations equal less stress and expense.

A Variety of Tent Sizes

If you’re hosting the reception in the same tent as the ceremony, the wedding team will usually require about two hours to “flip” the space; so, in the meantime, and if the weather permits, a small tent can be set up nearby to house a bar and canaps station to occupy guests. In this case (pictured), a 10-by-10 pop-up tent was set up for the cocktail hour. The otherwise-plain ceiling was jazzed up with hanging umbrellas, giving the small space a decidedly festive appeal.

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