The first thing you need to know is that tent weddings are never inexpensive. And if it is, it's because you're doing ALL the work right up to the very last-minute.
Planning your tent wedding can and will be stressful if you don't have a planner. Your hopes and dreams for DIY wedding seem attainable, especially if you start planning and making things a year in advance. Wrong. Time will escape you, because planning a wedding can easily become a second job on top of your everyday life. Before you know it priorities kick in and what was important on your wedding to do list is pushed back.
I know this all sounds so pessimistic, but it's the reality. Even my most organized brides whom we've planned with for their tent weddings - end up feeling that DIY crunch and often email us unattainable to-do-list at 1:45 am just hours before the wedding day. Which is also why we always have 4 Toast staff onsite on the wedding day.
So here are 10 steps on how to plan your tent wedding- because I know you're brave!
HAVE A SYSTEM IN PLACE
Go to Chapters and buy yourself a cute agenda JUST for wedding planning. Live by it. When you add a due date for a DIY- stick to it. Don't ever delay or postpone. You owe it to yourself to me timely. If you want to sew 150 napkins, schedule it so you sew 20 every Wednesday....so you're breaking up the work and don't become overworked and discouraged. You should also have a binder that has every contract and invoice. Even if an invoice has been altered 4 - 5 times, have that copy infile to make sure there are no miscommunications in the days leading up to your big day.
It's important that your vendors have a good grasp of the timeline of your day so that they can judge what is feasible within your itinerary.
HAVE A RAIN PLAN
Now that you have a timeline you'll need to think of a rain plan. What happens if your ceremony is outside? What do you want to do if your cocktails are outside? Where will you take your pictures if it's raining? How will you address lightning and thunderstorms? What provisions will be made for catering?
BOOK THE BEST OF THE BEST
You're building your venue from scratch. Think about that for a minute. Just let that thought really resonate. You're temporarily transforming a space where there once was zippo. The smartest thing you can do is hire an extremely reputable tent company and the best caterer in your area. You'll regret any penny-pinching. It means you'll be paying minimum 7k for your tent and around 28k for your catering for 140ppl. If you just did some major eye rolling thinking that "this girl doesn't know what she's talking about". Let me tell you that your 2k tent quote doesn't include a liner, any lighting, flooring, tables, chairs, bug screens, catering tents, added fees incase you need a water truck to fill up your tent weights, drilling if they'res rock bed underneath your grass etc etc.
MINIMIZE YOUR VENDOR LIST
If you don't have a planner to coordinate all your vendors and provide you with floor plans, timelines etc in the months leading up to your wedding, have all your decor and florals come from one company. Make sure they have a standing relationship with your caterer and tent company. It's important because they most likely have the logistics of set-up down to a science. If they work well together - they can communicate amongst themselves for set-up with you having to provide them a 7-page timeline on logistics. That saves you the hassle of min 50 emails, 1 panic attack and 2 sleepless nights.
HIRE A LANDSCAPER
Take the pressure of your parents and hire a lanscaper to grade the area you'll be having the tent at least a year prior to your wedding date. This gives the lawn time to set and seed well in advance. Unless of course, you're paying for a leveled floor. Don't assume, getting flooring means it'll be leveled. Some are just plywood they lay down and paint on the spot or come as lego pieces. There is a big difference between a 2k floor and 6k floor. Take a look at the video series bellow as I chat about the effects of flooring and table sizes from a wedding we just did.
PAY THE EXTRA
Pay the extra fee to have your tent installed a few days in advance. And I'll tell you why it's soooooo important. Because that hand-drawn floor plan isn't actually to scale. So you actually have less room than you anticipated, and woups!, the tent that was installed is actually smaller than you expected... So you're going to have to play around with all the tables. Then move them again because you realized that tables are one thing, but when you place chairs around them.... the tables had to be moved because they were close together too tight. Remeber that cute Chapters daytimer you were supposed to get. Markdown an afternoon to tackle this task ;)
CONSULT A PLANNER
Schedule an appointment to consult with a planner once you have all your RSVP's and final estimates. Paying $200 - $300 for a few hours of her time to look over all your details will save you three times as much in mistakes you might have made. She'll let you know if there are any red flags or things you might have altogether forgotten. And bring her EVERYTHING! even your floor plans. I'de even go as far in having her check your inventory lists
When all you rentals arrive to make sure you count and cross-reference your invoices. You only have a limited time to report missing items that can be charged to you as lost or stolen when they come to pick up again.
HIRE A DAY OF COORDINATOR
Treat yourself. Like I always tell my clients, you deserve to feel like a guest at your own wedding. The time passes so quickly it's sometimes hard to live in the moment. Just remember wherever you are - be all there ;)
So there you have it. The best shortcut advise I can give you to help you on your way. We're always here for you - if you need us ;)