The Basics Of Tented Events - Part 2

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August 01, 2013

Planning and Décor

In part 1 of this 2 part feature, we addressed the beginning planning stages of tent rental, including the initial site ordinances, spacing, and structure requirements. Once you have decided on the size and style of tent you will be using, it is time to discuss the details of the design concept, décor and layout of your event.

Organizing the Space

Once you have decided on and ordered your tent, you can begin planning the space. The fire codes we've addressed previously, as well as your rental company will help you understand spacing needs for your specified tent. CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs are recommended for anyone planning your event design as they will allow you to easily calculate how much space you have to designate to each area. You may also be able to work with your rental company to design the space. When planning the space, don't forget to make room for key elements: Dance floor, band/DJ set-up, bar and customer area, tables and chairs, head tables, cake and gift tables, registration tables, walkways, etc. The Queens of Tent Décor suggest the following space guidelines for different elements of your event:

Dance Floor

o Designate a 4'x4' space for every 2 people (an estimated 1/3 of your guests will dance at once) o Placement in the center of the tent along the walls with the best backdrop is preferred so all guests can view what's going on o Too big can be worse than too small - empty space doesn't encourage anyone to dance!

Band and DJ Space

o A band riser is essential for live entertainment as it gives more room on the dance floor and protects the equipment. o Drummer needs an 8'x8' space o 4'x4' area for each additional band member o DJ requires an 8'x8' area, unless otherwise specified

Bar and Food Service

o An 8' table or bar will fit 2 bartenders o Most bartenders will require a front and back table to keep drinks organized o For full bar service, 1 bartender will serve 75 guests o Reserve a 10'x10' space in front of the bar for guests and walkways o Multiple bar set ups at opposite ends of the tent will help with flow and crowding o Food stations use the same suggestions as the bar


o Banquet Tables - an 8' table seats 8 people and requires 2' space per person o 60" Rounds seat 8-10 people and require 10 sq. ft. o 72" Rounds seat 10-12 people and require 12 sq. ft. o Make sure walkways for service are clearly defined Other elements to consider: o Heating and cooling devices o Designated smoking areas

Designing the Space

Event decorations that affect the tent itself should be discussed with your rental company before booking to ensure the safety of your guests. Hanging décor may weigh down the canopy or compromise the structure and open flame or heating devices may cause fire hazards. Your rental guide should give you suggestions and restrictions to help you organize your plans.


A tented event gives you many opportunities for creative design. Draping is often used to lower the ceiling of a tent and can hide unfavorable structural elements. There are many different ways to drape your tent ceiling; from loose hanging fabric to gathered or tucked arrangements. You can use fabric, garland, floral, or alternative materials that suit the theme or aesthetic for the event. You will need to measure the square footage of your tent's ceiling during the planning process and refer to your rental guide for tips on gathering accurate measurements. These will be used to ensure you purchase the appropriate length of fabric for your needs. You will also need to decide on a hanging method (fishing line or wire is common) and holders (embroidery hoops, ribbon, pins) that will be strong enough to support your chosen fabric throughout the event.


If your event will go into the evening, then lighting will be required. Open flames may be restricted in some areas, but a tent canopy gives plenty of options for romantic lighting. In addition to candles, string lights, hanging lanterns and chandeliers, and Wash/PAR fixtures (which project designs and colors) are creative alternatives for indoor lighting. Uplights and spotlights can be used to light the perimeter of the tent and act as guides for guests to safely make their way through the space. You should consider using dimmers on all lights used to alter the mood of the event throughout the evening. Heavier objects should be attached to support beams using sturdy systems and then lowered to your desired height. You may also attach spotlights or projectors to center posts for directional use. Note that any hanging cords will need to be secured and covered by additional décor to hide from guests view.


The opportunities are endless when developing tent décor and you should use your judgment as you would for any other event. All products and materials should be made flame retardant and safety precautions should be addressed throughout the planning and set-up stages to prepare for any unexpected outcomes. In addition to the main event area, you also have the opportunity to add decorative elements to the standing poles, support beams, and seams of the tent. Always remember to design each area guests will see, including the entryways, outer and inner perimeters of the event space. These areas will give the first impression of your event and shouldn't disappoint. When in doubt, refer to your rental company for tips, tricks and guidelines to help you make appropriate decisions for your tented event.

eNews May 2013

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