Gimme shelter: How to tent your event (just in case)

Photo: Michael & Carina Photo: Michael & Carina

The dreamy vision of a beautiful outdoor wedding goes hand in hand with the reality of weather risk, but both soaking rain and punishing sun can be managed with a little insurance by renting tents in advance of the big day.

“Rain is a factor that can’t be ignored,” says Lee French, project manager for Skyline Tent Company. “The function of a rain plan is both to provide you with what you need and to give you budgetary forecasting, so there will be no surprises.”

Tent companies like Skyline offer options for any size wedding, from a small backyard ceremony to an event hosting hundreds at Montalto, and plans can include not only the overhead covering but also walls, draping, flooring and raised platforms, and even climate control. Drone photography of the location paired with software templates of the various tent pieces can give clients a good idea of how the installed layout will look on the ground.

As with all insurance, there is a premium for tranquility. Clients put down a deposit of between 25 and 50 percent of the tent plan’s cost (which can start at around $1,500 for a simple framed tent) to reserve the equipment, and then keep an eye on the forecast ahead of their event.

“We like to take the entire rain plan and turn it into a switch,” French says. “The client has until about three days before the event to either flip the switch or leave it down.”

While the bride and groom can avoid the upfront expense and roll the dice on the weather, a last-minute scramble can be costly, especially during the May/June and September/October peak wedding seasons when much of the equipment is spoken for. “I wouldn’t advise [waiting],” says French. “There’s a lot of value to a confirmed rain plan, and no substitute for peace of mind.”