Tents, and Lanterns, and Layouts, Oh My

I have gotten a lot of questions about our tent logistics. Hopefully these answers will be helpful to some of you! Having a “tent wedding” is a huge pain in the arse and I’d like to help anyone else trying to do it in any way I can!


Q: How many guests did you have under your tent? How was space under the tent?

A: We decided on a 40′x120′ “century” style tent (the kind with the peaks), and we had 187 guests. We also had room under there for a stage for the band, dance floor, buffet table, bar, and a couple of tables for gifts, escort cards, and our wish bowl. We were going to go with a 40′x100′ tent and upgraded at the last minute—we’re really glad we did, especially given the torrential downpours we endured during the reception. You’ll get all sorts of different advice on this, but mine is to go with the biggest tent you can. I feel like we had the right size tent for the amount of guests we had.

Here it is pretty empty:

picture052

Picture 48

Q: Could you elaborate a little more on setup and layout underneath your tent?
A: Here’s what we went with (made on Perfect Table Plan software):

tent layout emliam

The squares are 5′ and seat 8 guests, the long tables are two 8′ by 3′ rectangles together, and seat 16. When figuring out the set-up, don’t forget to take the location of the tent poles into account!

I really loved the square and rectangle tables- an idea I got from Knottie ThirdHoya, and I think it was just less expected than the typical round tables, and made for easier conversation. We decorated the rectangles and squares differently, which added a little interest too.

Square:

photo credit: Samantha Warren Weddings

Rectangle:


photo credit: Samantha Warren Weddings

Q: Did you buy all the lanterns? If so, where?
A: We bought 100 lanterns from the Paper Lantern Store for $1.35 each. They were all the 14″ size. We then rented an additional 30 from our DOC. The Paper Lantern Store was nice enough to give me free shipping after emailing them to ask (use coupon code fship for non-oversized item orders over $100).

photo credit: Samantha Warren Weddings

Q: What size are the lanterns? How did you figure out how many to use?
A: Most of our lanterns (100) were the 14″ size. The ones we rented (30) ranged from 8″ to 16″. We just guessed on the quantity, but I’ll say that when you are hanging the lanterns in such an expansive space, you need a lot to make an impact. We could have probably had even more (although my family might have killed me for having to hang them up!), so depending on the look you are going for, you’re going to need a lot.

Q: How did you hang the lanterns?
A: Short answer: heavy duty fishing line. Long answer: We figured the distance between the poles was 20 feet. We cut lengths of fishing line that were approximately twice that length, just to make sure there would be enough on each side to tie (this process goes fast if the groom holds the spool and the bride runs with the end of the line from one pole to the next and back… snip snip—voila, 40 feet!). We tied 5 loops (a few had 6- we used smaller lanterns near the stage) in the center 20 feet of each of those lines, and hooked the lanterns (with the lights already in them and turned on) into those loops. We sent my dad up the scary 12-foot ladder with one end of the line to tie to one of the large center poles, and another unsuspecting relative climbed up a smaller ladder and attached the other end to one of the smaller side poles. Hanging between the two center poles was a little trickier. Repeat x 24. Tell your family you love them a lot.

Here’s a little diagram I whipped up for you…(it’s also an example of why we leave the graphic design around here to Mrs. Cupcake) the black dots are the big center poles, and the blue lines are where we hung the fishing line. I put little yellow lantern circles on one of the lines so you could get the idea.

Q: How and When did you turn all the LED lights on?
A: We added an on/off switch (just a tiny piece of cardstock) to our throwies when we assembled them (details here). You just pull the piece of cardstock off in order to let the battery touch the LED and turn it on. We turned them all on on Friday morning, and they were still going strong when we took them down on Sunday morning. If you want to read about our decision to use LED throwies to light the lanterns, that post is here.

Q: Did you have enough light?
A: Yes! Despite all my freaking out, the perimeter lighting and the lanterns provided plenty of light for our reception Actually, I wish there had been a little bit less light so that the glowing lanterns would have shown up a little better in the pictures—they were so pretty in person but you can’t really see the soft glow in the pictures. Using LEDs gives a glow, but they don’t give off a lot of light.

Here’s an example… it’s more like this:

www.ourweddingplus.com

And less like this (which I think you would need strands of electric lights to achieve):

www.tentwares.com

Q: Did your rental company actually try to charge you over $5000 for paper lantern lighting?
A: Yes. That was not a joke. The actual hanging of the lanterns only took me and my family about three hours, so I don’t know what kind of crazy scheme they think they have going, but I’m trying my best to bust it.

Anyone else want to share their tent wedding tips?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Tiramisu

Location:
Annapolis, MD/Maine
Wedding Date:
July 2014
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comments

  1. Member
    River_Kait 22 posts, Newbee @ 12:07 pm

    Bump

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 9:29 am

    I am having the hardest time trying to find the LED throwies and batteries. There are so many different kinds and prices, I dont know which one is right. Do I need the “resistor” with the LED? My wedding is in 2 1/2 weeks!! Please HELP!

  3. Member
    Nina Jensen 1 posts, Wannabee @ 3:36 pm

    Hi Mrs Tiramisu,
    I been reading your post. Great information. We will be using while lantern also at our wedding reception. Do you have any of your lanterns left? If so would you be interested in selling any of them

  4. Member
    LaughLines 346 posts, Helper bee @ 11:10 am

    I think this post needs to end up in the “Helpful Series” too! :)

    Super as I’m looking at seating right now and trying desperately to not be too cheap and get a big enough tent. Thank you so much for including your actual layout!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Kelly, Guest @ 11:15 am

    This is so helpful!!! I am going to use it for my tent wedding this summer. I was worried that we couldn’t pull off our own lanterns but I’m not worried anymore!!

  6. Member
    daisychopra 3 posts, Wannabee @ 1:48 pm

    Thank you sooo much for this post!! Lifesaver!

  7. Member
    missesawesome 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:17 pm

    Thank you for all of this great information!

    My fiancé and I are hoping to do various shades of purple paper lanterns along with some blue paper lanterns, as well. When we saw the cost of lighting them, I about died … but almost agreed to it for the sake of having one more thing off my list. But now? Now I’m planning on adding about 100 more things – literally.

    We’re thinking of doing about 100 paper lanterns with the Throwies inside of them. My main question now, after doing lots of researching and reading all of your’s is …

    How long (straight – with no turning off at all) did the Throwies last?

    The fiancé and I are thinking, that due to how long it will probably take to actually hang the lanterns, that we should do that part the Thursday before our Saturday evening wedding (so, 2 days in advance). We don’t think we can hassle with the on/off switch and actually going up and down a ladder to turn them on, so knowing how long they last is a big need of ours.

    If anyone has any great input/personal experience with the Throwies and how long they last, please let me know.

    Thanks! :D

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