More and more couples are choosing to have a backyard wedding. Although outdoor weddings can be wonderful, they can also be disastrous affairs without the proper planning.

For most backyard weddings, tents are a must. No matter what The Weather Channel is saying a week before the wedding day, a tent, or some form of shelter, should be a top priority for couples. Some experts suggest renting an alternate venue, just in case.

One of the most obvious reasons for a tent is that it offers protection in case of rain. Although a tent will offer shelter from rain, wind is another story, says Cheryl Gilbert, who owns a tent rental company in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

“The biggest problem with any backyard wedding is high winds,” she says. “It is only a tent, it isn’t a permanent structure… When you get 60 km an hour winds, the wind gets under that tent and it could lift it up.”

Because of the weather factor, planning for a backyard wedding can be stressful for some couples.

“Some people are all depressed if it rains. If you are going to be disappointed, plan it inside,” she says.

When it comes to renting reception tents, there are three basic tent styles to choose from: push-pole, frame tents and tension tents.

Push-pole tents, which are the most popular of the three, have ceilings that slope from a row of center poles, to a series of poles on the perimeter of the tent. They are anchored in the ground by staking, and generally need seven feet of clearance around the perimeter of the tent.

Because there are interior poles, there is less room inside the tent than the other styles. Most people decorate the poles of push-pole reception tents with drapery to make them more appealing to the eye. Like the other styles of tents, push-pole tents have removable sidewalls, which are either plain white, clear vinyl or cathedral-window style.
Frame tents are generally more expensive than push pole tents. They are ideal for tight spots because they don’t need clearance around the tent’s perimeter. They are also ideal for narrow spots.

Tension tents, which are the most stable and wind-resistant of the three styles, are the least common types of reception tents. The center poles in a tension tent are very high, making the tent have very steep slopes. Because they have fewer interior poles than push-pole tents, there is more room inside the tent.

No matter what style of tent a couple chooses, a tent should be big enough so that guests can move around without bumping into each other.

“I always suggest to my customers to go with a bigger tent. That way they can have more room to move around, and pathways between the tables,” says Gilbert.

She also says couples should make sure everyone will fit beneath the tent – including the entertainment and the caterer.

Most companies that rent reception tents will do an onsite survey of the area to help determine the style and size of the tent appropriate for the event. The survey will also determine the best location for the tent.

“Sometimes the most beautiful spot is not always the best spot. It might not be level, there might be a septic nearby, or overhead wires,” says Suzor.

If you are having a backyard wedding reception, make sure you consult with a company that rents reception tents early on in your planning in order to determine the best place for your event.