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Tent Weddings

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A+C's wedding planned, styled & designed by Toast Events, Ottawa, 2016  |  Florals by: The DesignCo Florals  | Table Top: Plate Occasion's, Toronto

A+C's wedding planned, styled & designed by Toast Events, Ottawa, 2016  |  Florals by: The DesignCo Florals  | Table Top: Plate Occasion's, Toronto

It's gonna get real - real fast! 

I've planned some pretty crazy weddings this year! We've had venues that don't have parking, running water or even electricity. It's a monumental task that not even clients whom we have planned for- know what we as a team had to accomplish to make sure their day was absolutely perfect. I literally blow my own mind every single time with the amount of work it takes.

What I'm about to share is based on my 7 years of experience which also includes the not so awesome garbage picking, errand running, problem solving, dish busing, buffet serving...right down to being a personal therapist. And everyone thinks I have a glamorous job! 

DID YOU KNOW that being a planner is considered by Time Magazine to be the most stressful job on the planet? I was a little taken back when I originally read it...but if you could walk a day in my shoes- you would agree. 

I love my blog because I write it in first person. It's almost like i'm really talking to you right now one on one. Don't forgive me for my bad punctuation or spelling errors because really, quite honestly I don't have time to care. But I will take the time to provide you 100% unadulterated insight on the wedding industry. So listen up, all you newly engaged brides and green wedding planners! You'll benefit from what I'm about to say. And for all us oldies! - high-five for being able to kick it for sooo long, My hat's off to you! 

 The classic things I hear paired with "tent wedding" is:

  • Oh it's cheaper!
  • I'm going to DIY everything! 
  • I'm super organized
  • I just want a simple wedding

Lies! If this sentence was paired with "I want a tent wedding". - you're lying to yourself. Setting yourself up for failure. Even though this is a blog post, I can see you glaring back at your screen rolling your eyes thinking- Why does she have to burst my bubble... she obviously doesn't know what I want...

Oh girl, but do I EVER know what you want! This industry is full of un-attainable ideas. I would know, because I too have fed the creative Pinterest monster with over the top style shoots and glamorous ideas that can quickly eat away an 80k budget..... Circling back, what you want - isn't what your going to get. But I can at least help guide you or even help you understand how to plan your wedding with or without a planner. 



So you think you have the perfect spot in your parent's backyard.! That's great- until you find out you need to re-level your whole backyard so that you have even ground. Sounds trivial right!? Well it's not. Uneven ground is wedding planner code for - we need to build you a sub-floor since you really have a "hill here" and the tent structure requires a flat surface. But hold on again! If you need to create a sub-floor and are essentially elevating the tent on a now need to have railings in any opening of the tent as well as stairs. - Wait did you say? Grandma's in a wheel chair..?!?.. now you have to build a ramp. Now wait a minute - your on a septic field? It ain't pretty but now your going to have to water barrel instead of having a nicely pitched tent.

Price Tag $5k-$8k



That even though you now have your tent you need to furnish it. That literally means every stick of furniture, linen, plate, napkins, glasses, chairs, tables, dance floor....oh and don't forget the salt and pepper shakers! And here's the kicker - that electrical outlet you think you're going to plug into for electricity - that's just a pipe dream darling! I've tried....

Price Tag $4k to 12k



You didn't consider how old your tent was and that it hasn't been washed in a decade, you can see all the whole patches from quick fixes over the years and that the wind is making your tent flap around like it might just fly away at any moment... The chairs you ordered are also wobbly and falling apart...... 

Girl, tell me you thought about bugs. I'm not talking about the wasps, mosquitoes, farm no no my friend! I am talking about the little kamikaze flies that look microscopic then suddenly fly into your know what I'm talking about! Yeah well they love to get lost inside you wine glasses.....or better yet just plain die on your linen.... how they do it, I will never know! 

Have you heard about wicking!? The act: To absorb or draw off (liquid) by capillary action. Just a little heads up... your linen is going to do that.....from the dew in your grass. 



A tent wedding can easily become a house party. There are all sorts of reasons why someone will want to go inside! These are the best ones I've encountered to date.

  1. I don't want to use the outdoor port-a-potty
  2. It's too hot!
  3. It's too cold
  4. The football game is on....

Oh yes my dears... I have heard it all!



So the weather's not looking too good, and it rains. If you haven't done your due diligence in raising your tent on a platform or re-surfacing your lawn you could be looking at a hot and humid tent with pools of rain waterunder your tables and even a soggy dance floor.



Washrooms, Ice and believe it or not, water are hot commodities. All of which will have you running for extra t.p, hand soap, to the corner store to restock ice for the bar and refilling water pitchers. 



As your wedding day approaches your preliminary rental order doesn't quite cut it anymore. Your guest list has grown or maybe shrunken and now that all your RSVP'S are in, you need to re-adjust what you've ordered for tables, chairs, linens, cutlery, plates, bar glassware, the amount of bars you need, dance floor size etc etc.... let the onslaught of emails begin. It literally may feel like a second part time job. I hope your good with MS Word because someone is going to ask you for a floor plan...



So all your rentals arrive and suddenly you realize it's "drop off only" and it's up to you and your friends to set-up all your tables chairs, lighting, table cloths, centerpieces etc etc etc. Seems like its simple until you quickly see that you didn't leave enough space between the tables for chairs chairs and a decent walking path...or even worse!- the tent is too small for what you thought would work. 

But before you put absolutely everything out, you're going to need to count EVERYTHING! Because if they short you on glasses - disaster... or if you notice that you didn't receive- for example: 250 glasses...the rental company will assume you broke them and CHARGE YOU! Yup! You only have a few hours after rentals have been dropped off to count and find out what your missing and if anything came broken and needs to be replaced.



What I'm about to explain is a HUGE thorn in my side! Caterers who are un-experienced, purposely under staffing to cut costs which results in poor food quality and lack of service. It never fails - my girls are always busing tables which is NOT in our job description. Please, what ever you do, don't cheap out on your catering. Because if we weren't there.,.. it would have been an absolute disaster! I don't care if it's just  BBQ or a buffet - you need to order more staff then you think you will need! 



Surprise! That's on you too! The day after should be for relaxing and nursing that epic hangover - after all you just planned the biggest party of your life! But no- you now have to pack everything up and wait for your rental tent company to come three days late to pick up your tent. I swear it's a tent rental company thing....



  1. Hire a planner - seriously!
  2. Mow your lawn at least 4 days prior to your wedding
  3. Put your linens out the afternoon of your wedding after the dew has evaporated
  4. Buy/rent a generator twice as big as you think you'll need
  5. Have a dedicated ice runner
  6. SPEND on a well vetted caterer!!!!! 
  7. Invite or let the neighbors know your having a backyard wedding. (no bylaw). If they do come, keep the volume up but turn your base down- that's primarily what they hear anyways...
  8. Buy at least 24 bags of ice per 50ppl for the entire evening.... that includes cocktails, dinner and dancing
  9. You need one bar with two bartenders and 1 bar back for every 100 guests
  10. Count your rental inventory
  11. Hire an attendant for your portable washroom
  12. Make sure you have lighting not only in the tent but for pathways leading to the tent, for catering and for the bar
  13. Garbage cans and disposal! Make sure catering leaves with all their garbage! 

and lastly....

13. Don't be a hero

Because if something is going wrong on your wedding day- it's already too late.



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Toast Events Bride & Groom Chateau Laurier

The biggest decision and the largest amount of your budget will be spent on your venue choice. There are so many options, but which is best for you and what should you consider in choosing your reception venue? Perhaps I can shed some light in helping you determine your perfect fit.


Let's face it, outdoor weddings are by far the most romantic, with gorgeous landscapes, glowing sunsets, bonfires and fresh air. Outdoor weddings are among my most favourites, however these settings host a set of it's own challenges and budget constraints. Having a big white tent and a blank canvas can easily throw your budget right out the window. 


Unpredictable Weather

I hate to say it, and some brides tend to be in a bit of denial when approaching the subject, but weather can make of break your wedding. I've heard horror stories of guests whom have attended rainy outdoor weddings that were wet, hot and humid. The three worst elements to endure in a silk gown. Always have a backup plan ready. 

Tents are Costly

Sure the price tag might says $1,200 but that rarely includes chairs ($8-$15 per), tables ($12-$15 per), cutlery & stemware ($5-$10 a setting), linens, ($12-$25 per) staging ($100-$250), dance floor ($300- $600), draping and electricity ($800-$1200). Add that all up and your tent doubles, sometimes triples in cost. All of these items are rarely charged in other site fees.

Temperature Control

If your looking for heat you'll be left with unsightly propane heaters which you routinely see on restaurant patios. If you do decide to go this route you will absolutely need to make sure the tent is well ventilated so fumes may escape your "enclosed" area. If it's the heat that's bothering you, the last things you should do is open all the tent walls. This encourages any slight breeze to knock over your gorgeous tall centrepieces into your guests laps. I've personally had one knock a guest on the head. Not a good situation! You can however have the option of installing ceiling fans. I've even had standing fans that spray a very light mist located just outside the tent so that guests may refresh themselves without ruining their dress or makeup application. Having paper fans and lots of water or cozy pashmina's handy is also key in keeping your guests as comfortable as possible.  


Great food and exceptional staff. Everything you need right at your fingertips. Prep suites, ceremony, reception and accommodations all in one place. Bonus, no transportation costs which can save you upwards of $1,500. Because hotels typically host a variety of functions rentals costs are trimmed down to esthetic only. No need to bring in chairs, tables, cutlery etc etc. Hotels are truly an all-in-one experience. You can also arrange a post wedding brunch the next morning with your hotel guests, continuing your celebration. 


Lack of Flexibility

I always find this a challenge to maneuver. But a good wedding planner can encourage options and possibly work those loop holes you might not have thought of. Some hotels also have proffered vendors which you must work with. Your hotel may also be unionized which can slow down vendor set-ups. Tip: Never order any audio visual last minute. It's ghastly. And always check any possible looming strike mandates which could effect your special day.

Hidden Costs

It's not uncommon for hotels to sometimes double their pricing on Food & Beverage from one year to the next. What you choose today in your consultation may either not be available or the market price of your prime rib just might double. Other fees you might not consider, parking ($12-$25 per), vallet ($20-$25 per), cake cutting fees ($1 to $3 p.p), coat check ($2-$3 p.p), overtime ($100-$250 pr/hr).


Sentimental of course. I think we all dream about having our weddings in our own backyard while getting ready in your childhood home and just steps from where your ceremony will take place. Set-up can be done they day before without rushing those last minute DIY details. 


Rental Costs Go Up

Just like a tent wedding your starting from scratch. The terrain in your backyard may also not be conducive to tent requirements, parking can become a nightmare and noise control in the evening can put a damper on your festivities. 

House Rules

Keeping guests outside and not in your home isin't as easy as simply locking the doors. Some aunt will always complain to use the in-house washroom or request to be in air-conditioning. Prepare yourself to be constantly kicking guests out. 


You'll need one person dedicated to just running around grabbing last minute things you forgot such as garbage cans and trips to buy ice to replenish your bar. You'll also be left with the mess at the end of the night. Although you may have the next day to clean up, leaving certain items outside may leave you with damaged linens and mucho wasps.


The price is right, potential one-stop-shop for all your planning needs. In-house decorations and florals are some of the inclusive features in some banquet hall packages. Pretty awesome right?



We know that sometimes getting married in a hall with no windows can sometimes feel like being in a box. This could increase your decor budget to bring in ambient lighting or even hiding out of place wall art or random structural posts. It may also feel like your just another bride in a line up waiting for access to your space and quickly getting out before the next bride starts dropping off her decor items. Not to mention, you'll probably notice the horrible geometric patterned carpet.


Your bound by the rules. No fixing things to walls, no hanging items off chandeliers, enclosed flames or battery operated tea lights only. Storage is limited and power requirements for bands and Dj entertainment units can be tricky. As a planner I always need to know where the breakers are.


There is a real possibility that there will be another wedding beside yours. You may run into "the other bride" and sometimes even share common areas like foyers, washrooms and even bars. I have had instances where the adjacent wedding scheduled their grand entrance right as our wedding speeches were taking place. There is no such thing as a "sound proof room divider". Sorry ladies. All I can say, is be prepared to share and don't get upset if your not the only girl in a puffy white dress. 


Most weddings at banquet halls all tend to look the same unless you bring in big decor elements to wow your guests. This is where a wedding stylist or a planner can help you create a more unique and personalized look.


If your a foodie, a restaurant wedding might just be for you. Some restaurants are perfectly designed and decorated that minimal decor and florals are needed. Most restaurants also focus on ambiance so that expensive romantic lighting we love so much is at no extra cost. Custom menu, no problem! The sky is the limit in what you can achieve food wise. But be prepared to pay! 


Min. Food & Beverage Requirements

Yes, it's a thing. Some restaurants require a minimum amount spent on food and beverage for them to give you exclusive access on a Saturday. This could mean you could be looking at $14,000 to $20,000 in food and bar costs alone. Now, if your main priority is food and your not too fussy about adding decor and flowers aren't your thing, than this budget allotment will work for you.


Layout, Layout. Layout

Although a restaurant can be intimate and inclusive, it can also limit what you can do with your floor plan. You might have to sacrifice dinner tables on our dance floor with a possible flip. You also won't be able to move most tables as some venues boldt them to the ground or have partial "booth or bench" seating.  


Food Delays

Restaurants have a completely different dinning experience. The service is slower. For example, once guests are seated waiters will take guest orders from an A La Cart Menu (15-20mins), orders are then placed with the kitchen. 20 minutes will pass before the first course is served. You would think that salad would be easy and pre-plated. Wrong! Their kitchens are smaller as they normally prepare by staggered orders. This means they plate as they go. This gives you an extended eating experience which allows for speeches in between and lots of time for your guests to chat. Add another 45mins onto your average wedding dinner period. Because guests are sometimes used to quick service they may look at their watch, but I assure you, by the time the second course arrives they'll ease right into the longer dinner service.