When couples dream of holding an outdoor tented wedding, they dream of outdoorsy photos, an intimate dinner and dancing under the moonlight. What they don’t always dream about are the bugs, the amenities you must bring in yourself and the extra logistics involved. Hosting an outdoor tented wedding is a lot more work than most couples expect, so plan carefully if you want to make this dream a reality. Keep reading for our tips on how to hold an outdoor tented wedding reception.

Find the right venue

This is the first step and it is an important one. It will be a step that determines how much you will be spending on your wedding, how versatile your space will be, and what the flow of the night will look like and more.

If your parents or relative own a beautiful plot of land you can borrow for the wedding, you are in luck. Most tented weddings are able to happen because someone has a private property they are able to use. You will save on venue fees, however keep in mind you may have to put in extra work and money to make sure the property looks presentable, pay for staff and bring in a lot of rentals.

Once you have your venue, you will have to consider what you will have to bring in and the guest experience. What are the parking options? Is it easy to find? What if it rains? How much do you need to bring in for rentals (plates, cutlery, bar staffing, alcohol, tables, chairs, dance floor, AV, etc).

Tip: Do not skimp on hiring help. From the caterer, ensure you hire enough staff to assist with set up and clean up (you do not want to be left with this task!). For coordination, hire a wedding coordinator to ensure that all the details are taken care of so you can relax and enjoy the day.

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Most outdoor weddings take place on private properties owned by the family. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Help your guests feel comfortable

If you are sending your guests out to the wilderness to join you on your wedding adventure, you should probably understand that some of the elderly folks and urban city dwelling friends may not be overly keen on the idea. That’s ok. It is your wedding day after all, so it’s important you love it.

But to help them feel more comfortable, ensure there are necessities like nice washroom facilities, comfortable chairs, fans for cooling or heating for cooler months, and amenities in the washroom. Consider providing scarves to guests in case it gets cold, bug spray, sunscreen, flashlights and umbrellas.

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Some bugspray and flashlights for the guests. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Create custom signage to let guests know where to go. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Water station to keep guests comfortable - Outdoor tented wedding tips by Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events www.rebeccachan.ca
If you anticipate hot weather, have a water station set out for guests upon arrival. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Take decor cues from the property

Since the property is not regular dressed up for weddings, you may need to put in some extra effort to make it feel like a wedding. This might mean adding signage, creating your own stationary and decorating the tent.

Also know that you will likely have to put in extra time just prior to the wedding day to do some of the decorating yourself or with the help of your friends/family. Make sure to allot extra time for this! Since you are building the property from scratch, you will have to put in some extra leg work.

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
A beautiful backdrop of trees. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photo by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Custom-made signage. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Custom hand-lettered menus that complimented the green blooms. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Rain back up plan

If you are planning an outdoor wedding reception, you will need to plan for your outdoor wedding ceremony. Naturally, you must ask yourself – what if it rains? At this beautiful wedding, their rain backup plan was to go under the tent. Once the tent arrived, they realized it would have been really tight to fit everyone in there and it would have made for dark photos.

It drizzled that day, but the couple was determined to get married outdoors. So they went out to the local store to purchase umbrellas for guests and towels to wipe the chairs off. If your wedding day comes with inclement weather, what is your plan? What is your tolerance level for the rain? You must have a plan or you will be left scrambling on the day of.

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
It rained, but they went on anyway, with umbrellas and towels in hand. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Bring in some fun elements

An outdoor wedding reception calls for outdoor-oriented elements, don’t you think? Since you are going non-traditional, you might as well consider some non-traditional elements to add into the mix. Get inspired by what you love to do outdoors as a couple or what might lend itself well at the property that you can’t do in an indoor venue.

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
Include some lawn games for your guests. Photo by Aron Goss Photography

Backyard tented Ontario wedding. Photos by Aron Goss and coordination by www.rebeccachan.ca
How about a giant jenga game? Photo by Aron Goss Photography

DIY s'mores bar at the wedding reception
How about a custom smores bar? Easy to do-it-yourself with a little hard work ahead of time.

DIY s'mores bar at the wedding reception
Guests loved the custom smores bar at this wedding!

No matter the venue, ensure you have your guest experience in mind when holding an outdoor tented wedding reception. Happy guests = happy wedding = happy couple! See more of this outdoor tented wedding here.


Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.

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