Today we are talking wedding tent budgets with the pro of at home weddings, Janice of Bellwether Events. She has written and published the fabulous e-book  The Elegant at Home Wedding and today she is sharing her knowledge to breakdown why tents cost so much!! Take it away Janice….

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from engaged couples: “The tent for our wedding is going to cost how much?!”

Yes, tents for weddings and special events are expensive. Whether you are putting a tent up in your backyard, or over a hardscaped surface at your wedding venue, the associated costs for a wedding tent are going to begin at several thousand dollars. Note that I said “begin,” as in that is where the price for a wedding tent starts. I am going to lay it out for you, and show you, just exactly why wedding tents cost what they do.

To help you understand why wedding tents are so expensive, it might help to visualize a tent set up at a real wedding. At the most recent at-home wedding that I worked on in Great Falls, Virginia, I set up my Go Pro camera to film the tent set up by both the Sperry DC crew, and the wedding day set up by the staff from Ridgewells Catering who handled the tables, chairs, and other final touches. I hope that seeing this will begin to explain why tents cost so much money.


With most service-based business, the bulk of the cost of a wedding tent is in the labor. For the wedding in Great Falls, Virginia as seen in the timelapse video, we had a crew of about six people working for three days in a row, for an average of six hours per day. That’s about 100 hours of labor just for the set up. The breakdown, or taking apart, of the tent after the wedding was over took another small crew about eight hours. The labor and hours it takes is the most crucial part of understanding why a tent for your wedding costs so much money.


The single most important factor to consider when it comes to a tent is ensuring that it is installed properly and safely by a crew of experts. A tent for your wedding is no place to skimp. You are better off skipping the tent all together than going with a disreputable company who appears to save you money. You don’t want the tent to come down in the middle of the wedding or your wedding guests to be in any type of danger! It is critical that professional experts to install your wedding tent.


Another factor that impacts the cost of a wedding tent are the disposable materials. Even if these items aren’t as visible as the tent itself, they are critical to the tent’s set up and they impact the price. I’m talking about items that will end up in the trash after the wedding is over and the tent is taken down. For this tent set up in the video, the disposable materials includes the carpet on the floor, some of the floor pieces themselves, and the wrap used on the side of the tent floor to hide the internal flooring installation. It costs the tent company money to purchase these items and have them available for your wedding to make your tent look beautiful and gorgeous.

In addition to the disposable materials, there is a certain amount of the tent set up that is reused so you are essentially renting it for your wedding. For the tent wedding rentals, I’m talking about a gorgeous sailcloth tent, those beautiful wood stained poles, the hardwood dance floor, the string lights, the generator and more. These rented items for a tent wedding will see a certain amount of wear at your event. After each event, they need to be repaired and possibly replaced. It costs the tent rental company quite a bit to ensure that these rented items are in perfect condition and ready to be reused at the next wedding.



The final big factor in the cost of a tent for a wedding is the overhead incurred by the rental company. For the small Virginia wedding in the video, the tent company sent a sales representative to the home to walk us through the proposal and survey the yard, she also worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that the generator could accommodate the lighting and the band, and she created a custom floor plan for the wedding. Tent companies have offices (rent, furniture and supplies, utilities), trucks (payments, maintenance, fuel, insurance) and the inventory itself. I could go on and on!


There you have it – why your wedding tent is going to cost that much. Hopefully I was able to take you behind the scenes with this post and with the video to show the intensive process setting up even the smallest of tents can be. Tents for weddings aren’t cheap. And, they shouldn’t be, yet done right they can be show stopping venue alternatives for the perfect at home or outdoor wedding.

Photo Credit: Michelle Lindsay Photography

Thank you Janice of Bellwether Events for sharing your expertise and insight! Make sure to check out more DC tented wedding ceremonies and receptions including this Strong Mansion Wedding and this adorable Leesburg outdoor reception at the Birkby House. Also visit one of our favorite tent companies like Sugarplum Tent Company when planning your DC area wedding!

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