Party Rentals, The Affordable Way – Tents

Part 4 of 4 – Saving You Money on Tent Rentals

When you’re planning your wedding, DIY or otherwise, you want to save money everywhere you can, and my goal as a wedding planner is to help you to avoid unforeseen expenses and to help you have the wedding you have always dreamed of, on your budget. Every dollar and cent I can help you save means that you have room in your budget for something else, or you can put aside those savings for your honeymoon or to buy your first house!

For those of you unfamiliar, I spent 18 months in the rental industry and, as an observant person, I learned a few tips and tricks to keep your rentals affordable. When you put your rental order together you may think the total amount at the bottom of the invoice is all you need to budget for rentals, but there are incidentals: missing, broken, or damaged items are accounted for after your wedding is over! When you’re least expecting it, your credit card, already so close to its breaking point, can be charged above and beyond your budgeted amount.

Ensure you read through each segment carefully; there are multiple tips in each category!


Tents likely are going to be one of the biggest ticket items when you’re doing up your budget. You might be getting a tent because you want to save money on a venue, you’re planning on an outdoor ceremony or reception, or you just like the idea of getting married in a beautiful tent! Whatever your reason, they are great to have for so many reasons. For those of us who live in the Lower Mainland of BC, Canada, you know what the typical weather report will say: grey clouds and a chance of rain – why take the chance? If you don’t want to have to deal with the elements on your big day, a tent is your best bet.

Small pup tents set up in a field
And unfortunately a cheap camping tent just won’t house your 80 guests!

If you really want to save money on tents, think about your plan – is everything from the ceremony to the reception outdoors, or just the ceremony? Is the tent just a rain plan or is it something you really really want? If you are just having your ceremony outdoors and you want it as solely a rain plan, consider your options – would you be happy with just umbrellas for you and your guests? If you can conceive a rain plan without a tent you can save thousands of dollars! If you don’t know if a tent is a right choice for you or not, please feel free to e-mail (breanne@thistlebea.com) me personally; I would love to help you out!

                BEFORE: More often than not, when looking at booking a tent, the consultant who you talk with will be able to suggest the right tent size for your event based on the available space, what kind of weights you can use, access to the grounds, number of guests, and so on. Before you contact your tent consultant, know how large the space is where you’re setting up the tent – is there an incline? Is the ground even? Are there low-hanging branches on a tree near by? Do you have a sprinkler system underground, or a septic tank? How will the people setting up the tent get access? These questions need to be asked more for backyard weddings than outdoor weddings on public property, but when you’re scouting out that perfect venue, keep them in mind.

           Next, you’re going to want to know how many people you’re expecting; ask yourself, are you having a buffet, are the guests sitting at round or rectangular tables, are you dancing, band or DJ? All these things are important when figuring out your tent size. You can use a tent calculator to figure out a base square footage you will need and run from there! This step isn’t one that you need to take, but one I always suggest, just to make sure you’re not being sold a much larger tent than you’re actually going to need. Tents can run about $2/square foot on average, and when you figure out that you need at least 1500 square feet that’s already $3000! If they suggest something that’s going to be far too big, it’s going to cost you.

confetti being thrown at couple as they depart a scalloped edged gable tent with cafe walls.
To wall or not to wall, that is the question.
But seriously, having walls on the tent can add a bit to your tent bill

Keep in mind the tent company you choose may suggest something bigger, depending on your needs – don’t be afraid to ask why it needs to be so large! If you’ve done the tent calculator and it says 1500 square feet, but the tenting company says 2000 square feet, ask about it; maybe they have a great reason!

               DURING: Your tent doesn’t just go up in the blink of an eye; make sure your on-site contact is available should the tenters have any questions about set-up, like which sides do you want the clear walls, can we put it on the diagonal, is there a water source nearby, etc. The tent can take anywhere from one hour to six hours or more to set up – make sure you let your tenting consultant know what time you need to have the tent up and ready so your team can have the table set-up and decor done on time. More often than not the tenting team will ask if they can set up the tent the day before your event and tear down the day after, just to make sure that it is up and perfect for you. If you can accommodate this, do it! Sometimes it’ll even save you a little on the cost of the tent delivery.

If you notice that there is anything missing or damaged with your tent, as with any other rental, ensure that you call the company who provided the tent right away. If they’re closed, leave a message or send an e-mail letting them know of the issue. If you don’t try to contact them before your party, they don’t know for sure that it wasn’t ruined during your rental and they have the right to charge you for the damage. In the case of something missing, they would much rather do everything in their power to fix the problem for you than to have to refund or to have an unhappy customer. Word of mouth is everything in the event industry!

Inside of tent with roof liner and drapes, all in white
More often than not though, the set up is perfection

                AFTER: To make sure that you’re not charged for any time the crew may spend waiting around, ensure that your tent is clear of all tables, chairs, or basically anything that the tenting company didn’t provide for you. If your tent is coming from a different place than the rest of your rentals, arrange for the tent pick-up after the rental pick-up because the tenters will not hesitate to wait around and charge you for that time, or even worse, leave and charge you for a re-scheduled delivery. You can see a waiting charge of up to $80/hour per guy, or $200 for arranging the delivery! Save yourself the possibility of paying extra by scheduling your pick-ups well!

If there are any problems with the order and you get a notification afterwards that there were extra charges, call them and remember: BE KIND

If you’re in the Lower Mainland I highly recommend hiring Salmon’s Rentals and Apex Tents or Phoenix Tents. I’ve worked with both of these providers personally and they all offer quality tents!


If you have any questions about these tips or you have other ways to save money on rentals, let me know in the comments below!

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